Encourage them to seek professional help
Overcoming an eating disorder can be very difficult without assistance, so accessing professional help is important. You can contact the EDV hub for advice and assistance in finding suitable professionals in your area.
Seek out information about eating disorders in general and learn about your friend’s eating disorder. The EDV website is a great place to start. The more educated you are, the more you’ll be able to empathise and understand what they are going through, which may help you to better support them and yourself.
Separate the person from the eating disorder
Remind yourself that your friend’s behaviour is a symptom of the eating disorder, rather than a reflection of their character. Accept that your friend’s eating disorder is not their fault. By separating the person from the disorder, we are reminded of the person we knew before and the person they can become again.
Do things as you usually would and enjoy things together
It is important not to let the eating disorder become the focus of your friendship. Continue to enjoy things together that you have always done. Try not to make any changes to the activities you would normally do with them this includes outings, topics of conversation, meals out or other interests. Tell them about your own life and what is exciting or interesting to you. This may give them more hope towards recovery, when their mind won’t be preoccupied with their body or food.
Take the focus off food and weight
The person with the eating disorder is already overly focused on food and weight issues. Don’t talk negatively about your own body or appearance around someone with an eating disorder. Try not to put emphasis on the things you ate (for example, don’t ‘pat yourself on the back’ for eating a salad or berate yourself for eating chocolate). Don’t change your own eating habits around the person with an eating disorder but try not to make a big deal of it either.
Show compassion and care and listen without judgement
Understand that a person with an eating disorder is likely feeling distressed and confused. One of the most effective ways you can support them is by telling them that you care and that you will always be there to support them.
Discuss your concerns with others
Speak with a parent, teacher or find professional help for yourself. The EDV hub can provide support for people concerned about a loved one with an eating disorder.
Eating disorders are complicated and recovery can take some time. It is important to remind yourself that the person does not want to be unwell, but they lack the ability to overcome the disorder quickly. There is no specific timeframe for recovery.