This week is eating disorder week. Eating disorders not just painful for those suffering from the disease but also their friends and family. You can end up not knowing what to say or how to be supportive. If you know someone who is in the midsts of an eating disorder or have suffered from an eating disorder in the past here are some sayings you may want to stay away from.
As tempting as it is to tell the person with the eating disorder to eat, ultimately, this can do more harm than good. Eating disorders are mental disorders and of course, eating helps, but it is important to remember that person will probably want to eat (it is misconception they do not like food or want to eat) but there is a mental block preventing them from taking the plunge. Instead of forcefully saying just eat. Invite them to join you for a meal, it is less daunting, more inviting, less pressuring and allows them the control to accept or decline.
You look well
As someone with eating disorders recovers, their body will change naturally. This is something, they will be very conscious off and they may not know how to react to these well-meaning comments. While they may take these comments in their strides, it some cases, it could have an adverse effect. Try instead to say your skin is glowing or that outfit looks incredible on you.
You’re so tiny
They know how tiny and healthy they look. As I mentioned eating disorders are mental illnesses. A lot of them will want a healthier looking body. A lot of the time this is said in a wistful manner ie the person making the comment wanting to be this skinny. IF you notice their weight is decreasing and they are potentially relapsing (very common and likely with any form of recovery) yes do something about it
Say well done when they are eating
Seeing someone recovering from an eating disorder eating something new or overcoming a challenge is great and your instinct will probably be to say well done and encourage them. While this has good intentions, saying this in that exact moment will have an adverse effect. Instead, save the acknowledgement for later on in the day. This will enable them to accept the support and feel proud of how far they have come.
If you know someone who is suffering from an eating disorder, there are services out there such as BEAT to help them and also you support them during their recovery.