3 Ways to Help a Friend with an Eating Disorder

four friends are outside eating breakfast sandwiches and smiling while discussing how they might help their friend with an eating disorderEating disorders are a mental health condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It’s a common condition that most people struggle to cope with, whether the patient is an adolescent, adult, or older. As a friend, watching your loved one battle with an eating disorder can be heart-wrenching. Most people wonder what to do or say to help. It isn’t easy to come up with the right words to say or the right things to do.

If you find yourself in this position, it’s essential to educate yourself about eating disorders and know the signs and symptoms. Sanford Behavioral Health understands how hard it is to help a friend with an eating disorder. To that end, our binge eating disorder program provides comprehensive treatment and support to people of all ages so they can overcome their eating disorders. Don’t hesitate to contact us at 616.202.3326 to learn more ways how you can support your loved one during this complex journey.

Eating Disorder Signs and Symptoms

Eating disorders are a wide range of mental health conditions that usually begin during teenage years or young adulthood. They can affect anyone, regardless of gender, age, or background.

Physical Signs Someone Has an Eating Disorder

Physical signs of an eating disorder often vary depending on the specific type of disorder. However, general signs may suggest someone is facing an eating disorder.

Some of the physical symptoms may include:

  • Extreme weight changes
  • Preoccupation with body size and weight
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Physical discomfort or pain
  • Poor dental health
  • Changes in the menstrual cycle
  • Fatigue and insomnia
  • Frequent illness

These are just some physical signs that your friend may be struggling with an eating disorder. Talking to them about it is important, as well as helping them access proper care and treatment.

Behavioral Signs or Symptoms of an Eating Disorder

Physical signs can indicate an eating disorder, but certain behaviors are also strong indicators. These behaviors can often be easier to identify as they directly relate to the individual’s relationship with food.

Behavioral signs and symptoms may include:

  • Dissatisfaction with physical appearance
  • Obsession with dieting and weight control
  • Frequent weighing
  • Restrictive eating or fasting
  • Binge eating or purging
  • Food rituals
  • Avoiding mealtimes or situations involving food
  • Wearing loose, baggy clothes

These are just a few of the behavioral signs. If your friend shows any physical or behavioral symptoms, it may be time to seek professional help. Don’t forget that each person is unique, and the presence of one or more of these signs doesn’t necessarily mean they have an eating disorder. However, these are serious signs and should not be overlooked.

3 Ways to Help a Friend with an Eating Disorder

If you’ve noticed any of the signs and symptoms in your friend, here are three simple ways to help them:

1. Educate Yourself

Educating yourself about eating disorders is the first step to helping a friend with an eating disorder. By learning about the condition, you can understand what your loved one is going through, which will help you provide the necessary support. Some great resources include books, online articles, and support groups.

2. Be Non-Judgmental

Being non-judgmental and understanding is important when communicating with your loved one. Instead of criticizing or blaming, approach the conversation with empathy and compassion. Let them know you are there to support them and will walk the journey with them.

3. Encourage Professional Help

Eating disorders require professional help, whether it’s a therapist, physician, or nutritionist. It’s essential to encourage your loved one to seek professional help, as early intervention can lead to full recovery. Be there to support them every step of the way and ensure that they stay the course toward recovery.

Call Sanford Behavioral Health for More Information on How to Help a Friend with an Eating Disorder

As a friend, educating yourself about a certain condition, recognizing its signs and symptoms, and providing the necessary support to your loved ones is important. Use empathy and compassion when communicating with them, and encourage them to seek professional help. Remember that early intervention can lead to a better prognosis. Your love and support are essential. It can make all the difference in the world for someone fighting an eating disorder.

If your friend is ready to start treatment for an eating disorder and you need more information on how to support them, contact Sanford Behavioral Health at 616.202.3326 today.

addiction, eating disorders, mental health treatment

Sanford Behavioral Health is an addiction, eating disorder, and mental health treatment facility serving Greater Grand Rapids, Michigan, and beyond. Our mission is to promote mental health, resilience, and well-being. Our goal is to provide practical and accessible substance use disorder, eating disorder, and mental health treatment to our patients. Sanford is led by a multi-disciplinary team offering integrative residential, outpatient and telehealth programs.