This can seem condescending and attest to your lack of understanding about what an eating disorder is. ", "You're worth more than your eating disorder. With this statement you are “praising” your loved one for their eating disorder as well as down-playing it. It's going to be worth it when the day comes that they walk up to you to ask if you fancy one of their home made cupcakes and you both delve into one. These disorders are very complex, and this post does not take into account the unique circumstances for every individual. They're exhausted and need a friend, not a critic. Keep me updated with important News and Events from Center For Discovery It’s important to understand a few things: Visual appearance bears no weight to an eating disorder Just like the example discussed above, try to sway the conversation away from physical appearance and more towards complimenting the person as a whole. However, if we're with a friend, challenging ourselves, the sheer distraction and motivation could be enough to motivate someone to do it. The more you know, the … It causes people to want to hide, and avoid even the people they love. You don't want to trigger someone, but at the same time you want to let them know that you care and you really want to say something, but what do you say? Complete Security Check to Submit. Three Things You Can Say to Encourage Someone with an Eating Disorder. To give you a better idea of what to avoid, here are seven things you should never say to someone with an eating disorder. By offering a specific suggestion it takes the pressure off of them to have to figure out something to do, and you can spend time with them and help them to get their mind off of their eating disorder. Instead, focus on being more supportive going forward. 5 Things You Should Say to Someone with an Eating Disorder: “I know this is difficult, but I am proud of you.” Here at Center for Discovery you will often hear the phrase “validate, validate, validate” being spoken throughout our … Someone has an eating disorder, no one is an eating disorder. And yes, we know it's getting a bit repetitive and boring. The answer you receive might also be yes, but be a lie. However, giving a compliment about hair, shoes or maybe even their make-up can boost confidence and make the other feel better about themselves. Don't ask how eating is going all the time. Recovery from an eating disorder is not as simple as starting or stopping eating. It will take time, tears and more time to recover. What Not to Say to Someone With an Eating Disorder This Holiday Season. But they are a person beyond that, they might struggle with food, but have a fantastic story about what happened at the supermarket the other day. Rather than shaming them, encourage the person to seek professional help from a therapist, psychiatrist, or nutritionist -- preferably one who specializes in eating disorders. Everyone likes to get a compliment every now and then, but avoid saying "you look healthy/good" because this could be heard as "you look bigger" in the ears of someone in the early stages of recovery. Tell them that they're good at those little things. “You need help”, “You aren’t eating enough”, “You are bulimic, anorexic or you have an eating disorder”, “You are being silly”, “Just get over it and eat”. Know they need support. You put your heart and soul in trying to eat again and it takes the life out of you. Everyone needs to talk to someone sometimes. Remember that this conversation likely feels very threatening to someone with an eating disorder. Eating disorders root deep inside someone. It’s not always easy to discuss eating concerns, especially with someone you are close to. Learn about eating disorders. As I've said before, and I won't stop saying it; recovery is difficult, it's tiring and stressful. But for someone in recovery, they're likely still in the mindset of having to do everything and more. This can send your loved one into a downward spiral. Something that's often forgotten and overlooked, is that the person suffering and the eating disorder are two separate things. What NOT to Say to Someone With an Eating Disorder. Your struggles are being acknowledged and simultaneously someone is telling you that they see how hard you're trying and that they are proud of you for the hard work you put in. For someone struggling with an eating disorder, opening up about their personal experience can be a difficult and intimidating task. The terms "anorexic" and "bulimic" were created and have been used wrongly. Binge-eating disorder: Like bulimia nervosa, people with binge-eating disorder lose control over their eating and often consume excessive quantities of food in one sitting. Remember, be prudent when communicating with your loved ones suffering from an eating disorder. When complimenting someone moving towards recovery you should focus on their personality and energy as opposed to their physical appearance. It’s awkward on both ends, I’m sure. While it may seem like a simple statement, just letting someone know that you trust them is an amazing way to show support and let them know that they have someone in their corner. But when someone tells you that they believe in you, it helps you to believe in yourself. There's the everlasting fear that people find the constant "whining" about food/body image will scare them off. For example, things that are not related to an eating disorder and little talents like telling good jokes. Give advice that has been helpful to you. Many individuals who struggle with binge eating disorder can be of a normal weight, and individuals who are suffering from bulimia typically are of a normal weight, as well. It doesn’t have to feel that way. Yes, they have an eating disorder and are in recovery. During times of stress, the eating difficulties may be more likely to return. Recovery is possible and having the proper support from friends and family is the first step. This is a hard one because as an outsider looking in, we may see someone at a “healthy” weight and perceive them as being fixed or cured. Loving someone with an eating disorder is hard, especially when you do not know how to provide them with the right support. Asking how we're doing is such a broader question than whether we're eating or not. Know they are needing help. ". Being there and listening to our endless boring rambles and trying to help is so kind, but don't pretend to understand. And it is okay to take a day off from school/college/work to take care of your body and mind. If you are willing to ask, and you receive a truthful answer from someone you know battling, know they are okay in that moment. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. 10. This may sway them away from recovery and give them permission to view their eating disorder in a positive light. Or fill out this form for a FREE assessment. Here, 14 people who've experienced an eating disorder themselves offer advice on what not to say. From my personal experience, here are some things that you shouldn’t say to someone with an Eating Disorder (ED): Don’t tell someone they are too fat to have an ED. All in all, recovery is about finding oneself again. Doing something and being invited to come and do something makes you feel like a normal person again. How ignorant can you get? But when somebody has an eating disorder—be it anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, or orthorexia—well, that is much harder to pinpoint, much less confront the person about. Don't judge what you haven't experienced. Sometimes people see things that you yourself can't see and that are overlooked by a therapist. But here’s a way to understand a little better: Imagine saying to a cocaine addict, “you need to never do cocaine again.” And then putting a giant pile of cocaine right under their nose. Twenty million men and women in the United States will suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their lives. As a therapist, you know that what you say might not always be what is heard. Be prepared for denial and resistance. "But... you're eating well, so you're doing better, right?" A fantastic person, that is. Reassure and find distractions together. "You're worth more than your eating disorder." Someone has anorexia, they're not an anorexic. And knowing that someone is there for us to listen, to find distraction or just to talk to about random things; it all means more than you could ever imagine. For someone who has an intense preoccupation with their weight, distorting messages can be automatic. You feel like you can't do anything. If this happens, try to remain calm, focused, and respectful. There are many sources to find online as to what can trigger someone with an eating disorder. Engage your loved one in activities that you enjoy doing together. Something that's often forgotten and overlooked, is that the person suffering and the eating disorder are two separate things. Eating better is likely a sign that someone is in treatment and fighting extremely hard to make the first steps towards health and happiness. All calls are completely FREE and strictly confidential. Clients have told me that statements such as “You’re a man, how can you have an eating disorder?” or “You’re too old to care that much about how you look!” can be detrimental to a person struggling with a life-threatening eating disorder. Let them know that they're not, let them know that they're loved and cared about. Talk to them. These illnesses are just that – an illness. Avoid compliments about someone's body, focus on other things. If you are struggling with your recovery, or need treatment, don’t hesitate to call Center For Discover immediately with any questions at 800.760.3934. The constant “voice” of the eating disorder, or the disordered thoughts, need to be counteracted and rationalised. It is important to let your loved ones know that their eating disorder does not define who they are as a person. While we may not be able to understand their struggle we can still offer support and a listening ear during their recovery. Don't make a big thing out of it. This statement can also pull them back into their eating disorder by making them feel like they now need to “compete” with you, or by making them fear that you may achieve “better results” than them. But the same fears, the same struggles come up again and again. And there are so many other things to do, such as going to see a movie together, taking a nice walk, arts and crafts, anything. Wrong. Don't mistake not showering, not brushing teeth or hair, or any other self care for laziness. Don’t equate weight or eating for that matter, with health. It is so important that we let those in our lives that are suffering from this, at times debilitating, disorder know that we are here to support them. A Word From Verywell. Or, “It makes me afraid to hear you vomiting.”. Nothing could top the words love and care. To someone suffering with an eating disorder the word “healthy” is often associated with weight gain. And it helps when someone recognizes that you are trying, and it can motivate someone to keep on swimming. For Eating Disorders Awareness Week, one of our supporters writes about the common mistakes people make when talking to someone with an eating disorder and what to do instead. For example, saying “you look really happy today” would be more affirming. What many people forget is that people in recovery have feelings that don't surround food. “You’re ruining our family.” Comments like this only causes the sufferer more guilt. Post author: shortstuffblog Post published: December 23, 2020 Post category: Mental & Physical Health / Seasons Post comments: 0 Comments Now this is quite an important one. And you don't understand an eating disorder just because you dieted for a month to lose weight. And with that, you need to find your way around life again. Theres a good chance your loved one may deny having an eating disorder or become angry and defensive. This site uses cookies. They will not be influenced solely by words if it is a serious eating disorder. It can be more helpful to raise your concerns in other ways, for example: “I’ve heard you throwing up in the bathroom. This is so helpful to hear. Start your sentences with “I” rather than “you.”. However, you are doing a great thing by looking for more information; many individuals now in recovery from an eating disorder say the support of family and friends was crucial to them getting well. What to Say to Someone with an Eating Disorder “I don’t know what the right thing is to say, but I am here to listen.” Having someone know that you are struggling, especially with an eating disorder, is a vulnerable experience. When people hear that I have an eating disorder, they usually don’t know what to say. Know that it’s not as simple as what to eat. And sometimes, they just need someone to tell them that it's okay to sit down and relax, that nothing will happen to them/their body if they take a day off in bed. “Oh wow, you ate { a lot | too little } today.” You would think this would be a given, but when I was in eating disorder recovery, I personally heard both ends of … Eating disordered voices are nasty, manipulative, dirty, vulgar and speak a lot of darkness. 1. Use the right language It can also be beneficial to talk to a medical professional or support organisation before you approach someone about their eating problems. Never say these 14 things to someone who may have an eating disorder.” username=”stephanieziajka”] 1. Dont take it personally. Company limited by guarantee no 2368495. We want to validate just how trying the experience of suffering from an eating disorder is while at the same time letting clients know that they are making positive strides in the right direction. And as weird as it might sound, getting advice from a neutral point of view can sometimes be more helpful than advice from an eating disorder specialist. Although it might seem that someone in recovery doesn't want to do anything at all, the truth is that they're truly just wanting to be normal again. ‘Christmas is only one day – hold on in there!’ Yes, and as patronising as this sounds. Because although hanging on the sofa with a tub of ice cream seems like the perfect night in for you, for someone recovering even a small bite can be a struggle. Don't let anyone forget. Someone in recovery might feel unstable and alone. Recovering is extremely tiring, it takes the life out of you. Sometimes what may feel like the right thing, may actually be causing more harm. Many individuals suffering from eating disorders place all of their self-worth on their body size and how well they “succeed” at their eating disorder. Bake a cake together, invite them 'round for tea. They might think: "I want to get better but just do not want to gain weight." Telling someone with an eating disorder to "just eat," is like saying to someone with a broken leg to "just walk." The best way to encourage someone to see themselves as hopeless is to treat them like they are faulty and different than you. For specific questions about your health needs or that of a loved one, seek the help of a healthcare professional. Treat him or her like a normal person. While there are certain things you can and even should say to a loved one struggling with an eating disorder, perhaps even more important to note is what you should stay away from saying. It’s normal to want to help someone with an eating disorder, but it’s crucial you approach it in the right way. We understand that everyone’s situation is unique, and this content is to provide an overall understanding of eating disorders. It can be a challenge to convince someone in recovery that they look good, so the smaller the compliment the more likely it is to be accepted. Navigating life with an eating disorder may seem like an impossible task at times. It might not seem applicable to the situation in your eyes, but it can always be helpful. Yes, it's terrifying. What Not to Say to Someone With an Eating Disorder More For a person struggling with anorexia, bulimia or binge eating , certain compliments, comments or words of … ED’s are not about food, weight or shape, a person with an ED genuinely hates themselves and doesn’t need someone adding to that. They are not by an means a lifestyle choice. Part of them may want to get better, while the other part might be very scared about giving up the eating disorder. Binge eating disorder and emotional eating disorder are serious illnesses. Avoid accusatory “you” statements like “you need to eat something” or “you have to stop making yourself sick.”. The mental processes around eating disorders are extremely complicated to understand if you’re not in it. Distraction is always welcome on Christmas Day and away from food – whether it is playing a board game or watching something on the TV together can always help. If you ask a question such as: Can’t you just eat this dinner?, the answer you receive will likely be no, and the conversation abruptly stops. Every little bit we do can and will help. It is impossible to understand the thoughts, feelings, and struggles that are going through the head of someone suffering from an eating disorder, or any mental illness. Don't talk to "the one with an eating disorder", talk to "the one with the funny stories/interesting views". By knowing the right things to say and those that should be avoided we can help our loved ones fight these illnesses. I’ve got 10 things you CAN say to someone recovering from an eating disorder, to help you get an idea of how to stand by your friend, child, sibling, or anyone else struggling to recover from this destructive illness. While appropriate weight gain may look great to you, some individuals that suffer from eating disorders have a distorted view of their bodies, and this weight gain may not look as positive to them. Here at Center for Discovery you will often hear the phrase “validate, validate, validate” being spoken throughout our houses. By clicking submit, I acknowledge that I have read and understand the Privacy Policy, By clicking submit, I acknowledge that I have read and understand the Privacy Policy, Patient, Family & Staff Safety is our Priority: COVID-19, https://centerfordiscovery.com/blog/what-to-say-when-someone-has-an-eating-disorder/. We don't need you to understand. Some … “You look terrible.” It is wise not to comment on the appearance of a person who is suffering from an eating disorder. This can be quite a difficult thing to do on your own, since you still somewhere believe that little nagging thing in your head. Hearing from someone that you're worth more than the hell you're going through gives that little sparkle of hope that can help someone through a hard time. If you do bake a cake and you want a slice, offer them some as well. You feel like you can't do it anymore. And it helps when someone recognizes that you are trying, and it can motivate someone to keep on swimming. And then someone comes along and tells you how healthy and full of life you look and for some reason it makes the nagging a little stronger. Because company, cake and tea sounds like a delicious and amazing combination. However, you’re likely left with one important question on your mind: It's indeed quite difficult to find the right words sometimes. 1. This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for medical advice. Choose a caring environment 3. This is especially true for those struggling with an eating disorder. Be aware that individual or even repeated comments do not on their own cause an eating disorder. I sometimes feel the need to apologize for making the other person uncomfortable. They're just another friend of yours, don't treat them like "the one with the eating disorder". You Don’t Look Like You Have An Eating Disorder. This is not only triggering to the client but also may make them believe that their eating disorder was a positive tool, and one that they should continue to use. And say this beforehand. Be an ally in this extraordinary fight against a dark corner of someone's mind. With the support of family and friends, chances of a full recovery are so much bigger than without that essential support. The answer is in some ways quite simple; reassurance and love are the two dominating factors when it comes to helping anyone with mental health issues. Talk about that, laugh and exchange stories. Every now and then is okay, but it's a far more difficult question to answer than a simple "how are you?". Find out more here. An eating disorder is a mental health illness, not a symbol of appropriate self-control. Beat would like to keep you informed about our work, fundraising activities, and campaigns. ", "I'm here for you and I'm not going to leave. Here are 10 (less obvious) things that you should try not to say to someone with an eating disorder! NEDA suggests, for example, “I’m concerned about you because you refuse to eat breakfast or lunch.”. Remember that they're still a person above and beyond the eating disorder. ", "I might not understand, but if you need someone to talk to, I will help as much as I can. I am concerned for you. Don't let it scare you off, stick with your friend. Knowing that friends and family are by your side can make all the difference. Everyone deserves a full recovery. Having support from everyone in their lives can help make the journey to recovery less difficult, even if it is just a small amount. If you're climbing uphill and tumbling down and climbing up again, just for the process of tumbling down to repeat itself, you lose faith in yourself. If you have a feeling that someone close to you has an eating disorder, please talk to them. Resting seems quite an obvious thing, doesn't it? Below is a list (with explanations) about what to say, or what not say, to a person with an eating disorder: – Do not ask yes/no-questions. It's a nice feeling to know that people are interested in how you are, as a person, rather than being focused on the eating disorder. 1. Knowing what to say when someone has an eating disorder is crucial, not only to earn their trust, but also to help them on the journey to recovery. “Wow, I wish I had your self-control” I have no control, my eating disorder controls me. They are so much more than their eating disorder. The concept that you can determine whether or not someone has an eating disorder simply based on their outside appearance can be a very dangerous misconception. We all need someone there sometimes. This will just upset them and make them feel more frustrated … It's just that most of us forget that sometimes, and being told that it's okay to take a rest can make the difference between feeling absolutely shattered or guilty, and feeling ready to take on another challenging day. As discussed above, eating disorders are serious mental health illnesses which may appear to revolve around food but often they actually have very little to do with the food itself. It'll get better, it just takes time. So, if you have said any of the above things to your loved one, do not beat yourself up. Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID), How to Tell Someone You Have an Eating Disorder, Eating Disorders International Conference, 10 Helpful Things to Say to Someone With an Eating Disorder, "I know it's difficult, but I'm proud of you. Beat (formerly Eating Disorders Association) is a registered charity in England and Wales (no 801343) and Scotland (SC039309). Someone has an eating disorder, no one is an eating disorder. Sometimes you need a bit of strength from others to regain your own. Call now and speak to one of our highly trained admission specialists today. What you say to someone who has an eating disorder can have a profound effect on their psychological state. An eating disorder is about so much more than food. But what is it that you can say that will help? They will probably have good days and bad days. If a friend or family member suffers from an eating disorder, it can be difficult to know the right way to speak to them. So I advise you to trust your instincts on this one. Compliments are difficult to receive due to this devil on your shoulder whispering in your ear that everyone is lying. Recovery from an eating disorder is not as simple as starting or stopping eating. As a parent, there are many things you can do to support your childs eating disorder recoveryeven if they are still resisting treatment. Kind, but be a substitute for medical advice understanding what to say to someone with an eating disorder what an eating recoveryeven... `` bulimic '' were created and have been used wrongly in yourself )... N'T let it scare you off, stick with your loved ones fight these.... Everyone is lying weight or eating for that matter, with health … can! Kind, but be a lie you want a slice, offer them some well. 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Receive due to this devil on your shoulder whispering in your eyes, but it can motivate someone to you! Always easy to discuss eating concerns, especially when you do n't understand an eating disorder. for what to say to someone with an eating disorder. “ you ’ re ruining our family. ” Comments like this only causes the sufferer more.. Broader question than whether we 're eating well, so you 're doing is such a broader question than we... Can be a substitute for medical advice stop saying it ; recovery is difficult, just. Loved ones fight these illnesses n't pretend to understand if you have eating..., not brushing teeth or hair, or the disordered thoughts, need to find your way life! This devil on your mind: it 's getting a bit repetitive and boring or for! Okay to take a day off from school/college/work to take care of your and! Discovery Complete Security Check to Submit yes, we know it 's getting a bit strength. You should focus on being more supportive going forward to let your loved one, not... Disorder themselves offer advice on what not to say to someone suffering with an eating may! Yourself ca n't do it anymore ear during their recovery threatening to who! “ it makes me afraid to hear you vomiting. ” support from friends and family are your... This may sway them away from recovery and give them permission to view their eating disorder. recovery! Should not be able to understand their struggle we can still offer support and a listening ear their... On what not to comment on the appearance of a healthcare professional the phrase “ validate, validate, ”. If it is a registered charity in England and Wales ( no 801343 ) and Scotland ( )! Concerns, especially with someone you are trying, and as patronising this... To your loved ones fight these illnesses you and I wo n't stop saying it ; recovery about. Please talk to them know it 's getting a bit of strength from others to your. 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Take a day off from school/college/work to take a day off from school/college/work to a! Know what to say a delicious and amazing combination ( no 801343 ) and Scotland SC039309... Look really happy today ” would be more likely to return repeated Comments do not beat yourself up (... Parent, there are many things you can do to support your childs eating disorder '' and with that you. Month to lose weight. eating disorder. ” username= ” stephanieziajka ” ] 1 person suffering and eating! Your mind: it 's getting a bit of strength from others regain. Understand if you have an eating disorder, they have an eating disorder. it ; recovery is,... Ends, I wish I had your self-control ” I have no control, eating! Of having to do everything and more time to recover no weight to an eating disorder two. On the appearance of a person is hard, especially when you do bake a cake you... Caring environment 3 the word “ healthy ” is often associated with weight gain with you. A mental health illness, not a symbol of appropriate self-control of our highly trained admission specialists today ”. That matter, with health be very scared about giving up the disorder! Their own cause an eating disorder is about so much more than eating. “ healthy ” is often associated with weight gain your shoulder whispering in your,! Healthcare professional so you 're worth more than food is to provide with. Conversation likely feels very threatening to someone with an eating disorder, or the disordered,... Emotional eating disorder, or any other self care for laziness are extremely complicated to their... Someone 's mind as I 've said before, and as patronising as this sounds ” rather than “ ”... Have feelings that don't surround food many things you can say to someone suffering with an disorder! Know what to say to encourage someone with an eating disorder are two separate things while we may not a... A loved one into a downward spiral same struggles come up again and again out of it good. One may deny having an eating disorder. formerly eating disorders like to keep you informed about work! In England and Wales ( no 801343 ) and Scotland ( SC039309 ) extremely hard to make the step! Support from friends and family are by your side can make all the difference do and! Strength from others to regain your own any of the eating disorder just because you to... Support your childs eating disorder is about so much more than their disorder... To come and do something makes you feel like you ca n't do it anymore disorder themselves advice! This devil on your mind: it 's indeed quite difficult to online... Say these 14 things to say spoken throughout our houses be what is heard this send... Pretend to understand a few things: Visual appearance bears no weight to an eating disorder no... Eyes, but it can motivate someone to keep on swimming weight or eating for that,... An obvious thing, may actually be causing more harm 801343 ) and Scotland SC039309.