Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Kristen Bryant / Her Campus
Mental Health

Tips To Support Someone Recovering From An Eating Disorder

Trigger Warning: This articles includes mentions of eating disorders, food and body image.

The last week of February was National Eating Disorder Association Awareness Week.

“Celebrating 20 years as the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), NEDAwareness Week 2022 is an opportunity to #SeeTheChange by recognizing change within the ever-evolving eating disorders field, and to #BeTheChange through advocacy, awareness, and community building,” NEDA’S explained in an Instagram post.

In order to help further NEDA’s mission, I wanted to give some insight on recovering and supporting those in recovery as someone who has recovered from an eating disorder.

Here are some helpful ways you can support someone around you who is recovering from an eating disorder.

Respect Their Triggers

When someone is in active recovery, they more often than not will tend to have certain triggers that could make recovery harder. If they communicate these triggers to you, always respect them. If they don’t express any explicit triggers, it’s never a bad idea to let them know it’s okay to set that boundary if needed.

Avoid talking about food

Anything revolving around food can be a major stressor for anyone going through recovery from an eating disorder. Even an innocent question like “What do you want for lunch?” could send someone into a spiral. It’s better to avoid all food talk in general.

For example, avoid talking about what you or they are eating or how much either of you is eating, talk about calories and nutrients and talk about diet in general. As broad as it sounds, food is a very sensitive topic for someone in recovery, so tread extremely lightly.

Avoid body talk

Another broad but important area to stay away from is any talk about body image, as it could be another major stressor. You may want to compliment this person on their physical appearance while in recovery to boost their self-esteem, but it could be harmful to their recovery process. Instead of telling someone, “You look so much healthier” you can easily change that to “You look so much happier” in order to support their recovery. 

Be there to support

When you’re the loved one of someone going through an eating disorder recovery, it can be confusing. Like most mental health disorders, it doesn’t make sense to anyone except the person struggling. The most important thing you can do is be there to support and listen to them during this time. Taking care of yourself is an important part of supporting a loved one too. You can’t give more than you have to offer so make sure to be taking care of your own mental health as well.

Recovery is not a linear process and there will always be ups and downs for the person recovering and their support system. There is no right or wrong way to support someone going through this illness. As long as you are there for them, you’re doing enough. 

Talia Gogel

Kent State '23

Hi! My name is Talia Gogel and I'm a sophomore fashion merchandising at Kent State! I love shopping, cooking, bunnies, astrology, and reading! I’m involved in the Fashion Student Organization, a member of Tri Sigma Sorority, and HerCampus!