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How to Help Someone With an Eating Disorder

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How to Help Someone With an Eating Disorder

Figuring out how to help someone with an eating disorder is not easy. Even if you are able to bring up the topic, they may not be willing to talk about it. Many people are unwilling to admit that they have a problem. Once someone recognizes that they need help, an eating disorder treatment center can assist them in finding a solution.

What Is an Eating Disorder?

While many people worry about their looks or their weight, there is a difference between a diet and an eating disorder. With an eating disorder, the individual may restrict their calorie intake or work out excessively. They may purge any food they eat and make excuses to avoid meals.

The most common eating disorders are anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder. With anorexia, the individual starves themselves to avoid getting too fat. They may restrict their calories, exercise excessively, take diet pills or purge. The individual basically feels like they are never thin enough.

With bulimia, the individual engages in a cycle of binging on food and purging. They may go on an out-of-control eating spree. Then, they vomit, exercise, take laxatives or do something else to purge their body of the excess calories.

Binge eating disorder is a condition where the individual compulsively overeats. They may eat thousands of calories in just a short amount of time. While the individual may feel ashamed of their behavior, they are unable to stop it.

How to Help Someone With an Eating Disorder

It can be challenging to learn how to help someone with an eating disorder. Ultimately, the desire to change and heal has to come from within. A loved one can point out the problem, but the individual has to decide to change their life on their own.

Loved ones can help by starting an open, honest conversation. Listen to what the individual has to say and be supportive. You should be honest about your own fears and worries as well. While you should be gentle and caring, you should also be firm with them.

Try not to offer simple solutions. If the individual was able to just eat normally, they would. Avoid acting like a therapist or threatening them with consequences. The best thing you can do is express your thoughts, be supportive and encourage them to get the help they need.

Choosing a Healthier Lifestyle

Learning how to help someone with an eating disorder is only the first step. If you can convince your loved one to get help, they can start searching for the right treatment center. Since many people with mental illnesses also have co-occurring conditions, it is important to find a treatment center that will treat all problems at the same time.

At a treatment center, clients can find options such as:

  • Dual diagnosis care
  • Gender-specific programs
  • Gardening and eco-therapy
  • Individual and group therapy

If you want to find out how to help someone with an eating disorder, Red Oak Recovery® can help. Learn more about our programs by calling us today at 866.457.7590.