If you’re worried about someone then it’s important to encourage them to seek treatment as quickly as possible to ensure the best chance of recovery. But beyond that, there’s a lot you can do to support someone with an eating disorder, no matter what your relationship with them. Remember that each person is different and will need different things, but this will give you some ideas about what you can do to help.
Mealtimes are likely to be very hard for the person you’re supporting. Below are some ways you can help them out:
Outside of mealtimes, there are lots of ways to support someone and show them you value them. You may find that their eating disorder causes them to withdraw, but keep inviting them to join in with group and family activities. Offer compliments that don’t relate to their physical appearance, and try to find things to do with them that don’t involve food. Don’t be too critical of yourself if you do make a mistake – you can’t always account for things the person you’re supporting might feel sensitive about, and you’ll be aware for the future.
Whether you live with the person you’re supporting or not, just being there for them and showing them you understand this is not their fault and believe they are worthy of support will make a big difference. And once they’re in recovery, make sure that they feel able to approach you again if they need to in the future – full recovery is completely possible, but relapses are not uncommon.
You can also download our booklet “Eating disorders: a guide for friends and family” from our Information Library.
It’s important to know the key phrases and sentiments to avoid because, sadly, it’s very easy for even the most well meaning friend to send us into a spiral of self-destruction with a few choice words.What not to say