It can be scary seeing your friend struggle with an eating disorder. From physical changes to mental and emotional changes, eating disorders can have wide-ranging, negative effects. As such, it’s important to recognize when your friend has a problem and be ready to intervene. Here are some steps you can take to support your friend.
People with eating disorders aren’t likely to come out and admit they have an issue. If you think or know your friend has an eating disorder, discuss it with them, but don’t go in blindly. If you think it will help, you can ask a few others to join you, but keep it small and make sure they are people your friend trusts. Be prepared to have a tough conversation; bring questions with you and know what you’re going to say.
Offering to help your friend overcome an eating disorder is a lot of effort, but they need your support. In this tough time, don’t forget about yourself—you need support, too. Whether it’s from your parents, teachers or other friends, find people who will be there for you during this time. Having this support will ultimately make you stronger for your friend.
Image Rebecca Schley
Know Your Limits
There is only so much you can do to help a person, especially if they don’t want help just yet. You must accept the limits and boundaries and do not cross them. It is up to your friend to get the help she or he needs, and maybe all you can do right now is confront your friend about it and let them know you’re there if they change their mind.
Avoid Placing Blame
When talking to your friend about their disorder, it is best to not to point fingers. Try not to be accusatory and avoid using “you” statements that place blame and guilt on your friend. Using “I” statements that express your concern are more helpful.
Talk to an Adult
If you don’t feel comfortable confronting your friend alone or bringing the issue up with your other pals, you can always turn to your parents or another trusted adult for help. Avoid talking to your friend’s parents directly about her disorder, and instead let your parents discuss the issue between adults.
Eating disorders are manageable and treatable, but they won’t go away overnight. You and your friend are in for a long recovery path, but your continued support will help them get through it more easily.
Featured image Kristina Servant