Helping a Friend
If you think a friend may have a problem, there are things you can do to help.
Focus On The Positive:
- Learn--read and check out the National Eating Disorder website.
- Express concern--talk about health and happiness rather than eating behaviors.
- Be patient and be there--listen and care.
- Encourage your friend to seek professional help--offer to go along.
Avoid The Negative:
- Don't give advice--or nag, criticize, or treat them like a child.
- Don't talk about FOOD, BODY SIZE or WEIGHT--avoid commenting on how they look.
- Don't expect change overnight--it takes time and a commitment to change.
- Increase your knowledge about eating disorders (request information packets, read books, attend seminars).
- Talk with the person about your concerns in a loving and supportive way. It is important to discuss these issues with honesty and respect.
- Talk with the person at an appropriate time and place- in private, free from distractions.
- Encourage the person to seek professional help as soon as possible. Suggest that she/he see someone who specializes in eating disorders (a physician, therapist or dietician).
- Be prepared that the person may deny that she/he has a problem. If so, and if she/he refuses to get help, it will be important to tell someone else about your concerns. If your friend is under 18, her/his parents need to know immediately.
- Listen with a nonjudgmental ear.
- Talk about things other than food, weight, and exercise.
- Be available when your friend needs someone, but remember, it is okay to set limits on what you can and cannot do.
- Hang in there! It won't be easy.
- Don't try to solve her/his problems or help with the eating disorder on your own. Get help from others.
- Don't confront your friend with a group of people, in front of a group of people.
- Don't talk about weight, food, calories, or appearance. Do not make any comments on what she/he looks like.
- Don't try to force or encourage your friend to eat. Do not get into power struggles.
- Don't gossip about her/him to others.
- Don't be scared to talk with her/him.
- Don't expect to be the perfect friend - Reach out for support when you need it.
- Don't expect your friend to be "cured" after treatment. Recovery can be a long process.
- Don't keep this a secret for your friend. Remember, her/his life may be danger.
- Don't panic: Look for the help you need.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness
P.O. Box 13155
North Palm Beach, FL 33408-3155
(866) 662-1235 * (561) 841-0900 * FAX (561) 653-0043