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How to Support Someone You Love That Has An Eating Disorder

National Eating Disorder Awareness week has just ended and the knowledge of different eating disorders and the effect they have on individuals, especially young adults, is extremely important. Chances are you have known at least one person who has struggled with an eating disorder at one point in their life. As a friend, it is important to recognize warning signs and to be there to support your friend and potentially make sure they get help. I know it’s hard to help someone because you don’t want to overstep your bounds or make them angry, but with an eating disorder it does not take long for things to become deadly. I have a few tips that I’ve learned from personal experience, but keep in mind that I am not a professional and sometimes professional help is necessary. If you or a friend need professional help, please call the hotline: 1-800-931-2237. 

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  1. First things first, learn as much as you can about eating disorders. There are a ton of helpful resources online

  2. Be honest with your friend. I have learned from personal experience that it is not beneficial to beat around the bush about their disorder. Openly express your concerns as nicely as possible.

  3. Compliments! It is important to try and make your friend see that beauty is not just skin deep. Try to avoid complimenting their body but instead focus on their accomplishments, intelligence, or wonderful personality. I’m sure there’s a lot of things you love about them, try to make them love the same things about themselves.

  4. Lead by example. Try not to complain about your own body or what you’re eating. Help them see that it is possible to live a rewarding and happy life style with a good diet and a moderate amount of exercise.  

  5. Don’t bring up their disorder every time they’re eating/talking about food. Chances are they probably don’t want to talk about it all the time, they know you support them but they deserve to be treated normally by the people they love.

  6. When talking to your friend, give them time to express their feelings without making it about food/lack of food. Chances are their disorder stems from a psychological problem and they’ll need someone to talk to.

  7. Remember that you cannot force someone to get help or change their lifestyle, but sometimes it is necessary to tell someone else. I know it feels like you’re breaking your friend’s trust, but you could also save their life. They will eventually thank you for caring enough.

The best thing you can do for someone that is struggling is be a friend, and sometimes that involves hard love. Seeing someone you love suffer with something like an eating disorder is not easy, but they need someone and you could help make the biggest difference in their life.

My name is Kelsey Haught and I'm an English major with a concentration in literature at California University of Pennsylvania. This is my first year writing for HerCampus and I am very excited to be a part of the team!
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