It doesn’t matter whether your friend is suffering from anorexia, bulimia or binge eating, the fact that your friend has confided in you means that they trust you and need your support.
Eating disorders are very secretive and can be hidden exceptionally well by the person suffering.
If you know about it, make sure that you are that listening ear, that lending hand and the much needed person on the end of the phone.
Although you may fear saying or doing the wrong thing, simply by maintaining a relationship with your friend, you are showing them how much you care.
Take a look at these three simple ways you can help a friend with an eating disorder.
The most obvious difficult situation to navigate with a friend who finds eating a traumatic experience is mealtimes.
Try to cook small meals that are nutritionally balanced and ensure that you stick to any eating plans that have become routine. Any change may cause your loved one to panic or become disoriented.
Instead, stick to the regime. Don’t sit around the dinner table and instead move to the couch and watch a bit of TV.
This informal setting takes the focus away from the food and allows you to talk about something more neutral like the weather, the latest movie that’s just come out at the cinema or the day you’ve had at work.
Steer clear of eating out for a little while as this can lead to your friend feeling self-conscious and hyper-aware of the food and surroundings. Instead go food shopping together and try new foods like the ones listed at https://www.listchallenges.com/ in the comfort of your own home. Although taking the first mouthful is the hardest, don’t get frustrated and acknowledge the effort that your pal is making.
Sometimes a person suffering with a mental illness can become all consumed by negative thoughts and other day to day activities fall by the wayside.
Help your friend by checking their mail (with their permission), helping with direct debits and finances and ensuring all appointments are kept.
Sites like https://www.rehabclinic.org.uk/ detail the in-home support on offer for people with eating disorders, so there is no need to always be an in-patient to receive expert care.
While it may be difficult for you to see your friend suffering, it’s important that you try to stay positive and cheerful.
Encourage your friend to go out with you, perhaps to the cinema or for a mooch around the shops.
It’s still important to compliment your friend steering clear of physical appearance and weight. Heading out and focusing on something new can take your friend’s mind away from food even if it is just for a short time.
Ensuring that your friend has a support network and people to turn to should they need to cry, rant, shout or simply talk is vital to their well being and self-esteem.
Knowing that there are people who care about them will aid them in their recovery and help them to foster a more positive relationship with food again.
Need any help on this matter? Your family and friends should be the ones to reach. If you are afraid of their reaction or even need another “type” of opinion and want to keep it to yourself, that’s ok, but at least speak with a doctor or therapist about your situation.