Tips on Talking to Someone With an Eating Disorder
Please Note: The below information is intended for informational and educational purposes and is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice.
- Set a time to talk: Set time aside for a private, respectful meeting with the individual you are concerned about.
- Communicate your concerns: In a loving manner, share specific concerns you may have that may indicate there could be a problem.
- Avoid conflicts or a battle of the wills: If the individual refuses to acknowledge there is a problem, restate that you are there for them and leave yourself open and available as a supportive listener.
- Avoid placing shame, blame or guilt: Do not use accusatory “you” statements such as, “You just need to eat.” Instead, use “I” statements such as, “I’m concerned about you because…”
- Avoid commenting on appearance or weight: Instead, ask the individual how they are feeling inside.
- Express your continued support: Remind the individual you are concerned about that you care and want them to be healthy and happy.
- Avoid giving simple solutions: Avoid saying things such as, “If you’d just eat, everything would be fine.”
- Do not mention specific behaviors: Mentioning behaviors such as weight loss techniques, purging methods, etc. can “teach” an individual how to fuel their eating disorder.
- Do not mention specific numbers: Mentioning numbers such as grams or calories, lowest weight, current weight, etc. can cause an individual to compare or dismiss their own issues.
- Avoid giving your own personal advice: Always recommend the individual you are concerned about seek professional advice.