Read the disclaimer at the bottom.
About 30 million people suffer from eating disorders in the United States alone. Of course, with that statistic, you never imagine that it could be happening to your best friend. 1 in 4 cases of anorexia end in death, and you don’t want your best friend to be the 1 of 4 that does. Here are just a few ways to help your friend.
1. Try to get them to open up to you, before telling them to get help.
Before you jump to the conclusion that your friend has an eating disorder, make sure you look at the signs. While not eating is a tell-tale sign, if they don’t eat lunch one day at the office, it’s probably not a big deal. They could be sick or just not hungry. However, if they don’t eat lunch for one month straight at the office, something’s up. Go up to them, and ask them if something’s wrong. Don’t bring up the eating disorder yet. If they tell you something or hint at it, ask “Hey, do you think you might have an eating disorder?”
2. Don’t force food down their throats.
People with anorexia can’t get over their illness with just one meal. If someone hasn’t eaten in a while, the chances are that they can’t stomach a whole meal at one time. They know their body best. That being said, don’t let them get away with not eating a single thing at mealtime. Even one bite is an improvement, which leads us to our next tip.
3. Anything they eat is a step in the right direction
Even though a single grape for lunch isn’t healthy for anyone, if they go multiple days without eating, then a grape is a huge step. By eating something, no matter what it is, they are willing to make a change in their disorder and take control.
4. Don’t compare bodies.
For someone with anorexia, any mention of weight or bodies, theirs or otherwise, can be a trigger. For me, when someone would mention anything about weight, I would start to shake. While that is a rare and extreme reaction, it usually does affect someone with an eating disorder. Don’t say, “Oh my god, I’m SO fat.” because someone with an eating disorder can over analyze, and think that they are fatter than you, and if you’re too fat, that means they are also. Just stay away from the weight topic in general.
5. When all else fails, try to find them help
If you do all these things, and your friend doesn’t seem to improve, remember that having them going to a clinic or seeing a therapist is a good idea. You’re not a therapist (unless you are, in which case I apologize, also why are you reading my article??!) which means you should not be helping your friend alone. While your friend will appreciate your help, the best thing you can do for them is finding a professional to help them.
Although having anorexia is hard, having a friend who has it is hard as well. Remember, eating disorders are serious mental disorders as well. They won’t be “fixed” immediately, and that’s okay. If you are not helping, it’s not your fault. People with eating disorders have what I call a warped vision, and it’s hard to control. As I said, you’re probably not a licensed therapist, and it’s not your responsibility to change them. Although it may or may not help, your friend knowing that you have their back is a fantastic feeling for them. Just tell them that you are there for them no matter what, and that will make them feel better than you would think.
Disclaimer: The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.