Eating disorders are incredibly distressing to the sufferer. You may be witness to your loved one following rigid diets, bingeing on food in secret, throwing up after meals, obsessively counting calories, and or losing an unhealthy amount of weight. It can be a confusing period, wherein you feel lost for things that you can do to help your loved one out. This article may simplify things for you. If you are completely clueless about eating disorders, start here – What are eating disorders?
It isn’t their fault, and it isn’t your fault.
Eating disorders develop secondary to a number of biological and psychological adversities. A person suffering from an eating disorder does not choose to think the way they do. They are likely to be experiencing severe mental pain and self-hate. Their problems aren’t imagined, they aren’t unmotivated and it is incredibly difficult for them to fix their relationship with food. One should accept that the eating disorder is not anyone’s fault, but an illness that requires treatment.
Show them that you are on their side
Eating disorders are the enemy here. It is a challenge for those suffering from eating disorders to identify their issues and ask for help. Make sure you let your loved one knows that you are there for them. If you notice them stressed out, talk to them without being too intrusive or pushy.
Do not try to manipulate them
Family members often fall into the trap of threatening and guilt-tripping they’re loved in a desperate attempt to get them to eat. This often alienates relationships and makes it difficult for the sufferer to open up. It also makes them feel guilty and most likely feel worse. Avoid insulting people about how they look, or how sick they are. Tough love isn’t very successful when it comes to eating disorders. Please express your feelings in a kind, considerate and empathetic manner.
Make meal times less stressful
Do not count their calories. Do not force them to eat more and definitely do not ridicule them for how little they eat. The less you focus on their eating the less stressed they are. Unless you are in a treatment program wherein you have been asked to supervise meals, try not to micromanage their eating. If you try to force them to eat, they are going to push you away.
Help them improve self esteem
A well-rounded sense of self is protective against eating disorders to some extent. Help your loved one gain confidence in themselves. Applaud their achievements, tell them how important they are and acknowledge their feelings. Do not make every conversation about eating and weight.
Encourage them to get professional help
Though your loved one may not identify or acknowledge their eating or weight-related problems, they may be willing to take help for the distress that they are going through. The longer an eating disorder remains undiagnosed and untreated, the harder it is on the body and the more difficult it is to overcome, so urge your loved one to see a doctor as soon as possible.
Take care of yourself
You might feel angry, resentful and burnt out. There is often a sense of helplessness that descends upon people who love and care for those with mental illness. Sometimes we end up directing our anger toward those who are stuck with the illness. You have to remember that you need to take a step back, make sure that at least some of your needs are met before you try to help someone. Make sure you are eating right, make sure you have enough sleep and try to get in touch with supportive friends and family. If you are unable to manage the distress, take help from a professional. Dealing with caregiver burden.