Things to avoid when confronting someone with an eating disorder

Things to avoid when confronting someone with an eating disorder

Improper eating habits can often give rise to eating disorders. According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), nearly 20 million women and 10 million men in the U.S. are expected to struggle with an eating disorder in their lifetime. Many eating disorders surface during childhood but an increasing number of teens and young adults are being diagnosed with the illness. Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses that are treatable. However, an absence of treatment can cause a number of health complications and even suicide.

Approaching someone who is suspected to be struggling with an eating disorder can be challenging. A person might get outraged and defensive upon confrontation. This situation can best be avoided by being sensitive and mindful of things one says to them.

Given below are few questions one should avoid asking someone who is suffering from an eating disorder:

1. Why don’t you sit and eat like all of us?

If it were so simple, a person would have never got affected. Pointing at the core problem straightaway will hurt their sentiments. One must not try to trivialize the situation.

2. Have you lost/gained any weight?

Living with an eating disorder is a real struggle. A person may sometimes be eating too much or suffer from low body weight due to anorexia nervosa. Making a comment about their weight is akin to making them feel miserable about their condition. Regardless of whether they have gained or lost weight, such statements can be perceived as demeaning.

3. Are you trying to seek attention?

This is an extremely damaging statement. Eating disorder is a debilitating illness with long-term negative mental and physical outcomes. It is important to be nonjudgmental with the sufferers. Nobody chooses to suffer; it happens for some reason.

4. How can you not have this pudding?

Talking about food with the one suffering from an eating disorder can be immensely stressful. A person might have his or fix fixed notions about what to eat, how much to eat and when to eat. The disorder takes time to develop and in the same way, it takes time to heal.

5. Do you have any idea how hard this is for me?

Family members or friends talking in such a way can cause a downward spiral for the one already struggling with an eating disorder. He or she doesn’t intentionally hurt the family by choosing to be affected by this mental illness. All they really need is someone’s understanding and acceptance. By telling those suffering that they are the cause of someone else’s grief and stress can deteriorate their mental health.

What to say instead?

Instead of making insensitive remarks, one should empathize and try to help. One can ask questions like the ones given below to show that they sincerely care.

“Are you OK?”

“Is there anything I can do for you?”

“Rest assured, I’m not going to judge you based on your food choices.”

“Do you need professional help? I can arrange that for you,” Etc.

Road to recovery

Dealing with a loved one grappling with an eating disorder necessitates patience and perseverance. The loved one shares a unique equation with food and it is unlike other addictions where people quit taking that substance. One must first understand the causes behind the problem and encourage the sufferer to develop healthy eating habits; but, acting pushy may backfire. It is important to persuade him or her to seek professional help and start on the path of recovery.

To know about the best recovery options for an eating disorder and/or any other mental disorder treatment in Florida, contact the Florida Mental Health Helpline. You can chat online with a mental health counselor in Florida or call our 24/7 helpline (866) 846-5588 for detailed information.

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1 reply
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