Approximately one in ten people experience an eating disorder in his or her lifetime. If you know or love someone who is receiving treatment for an eating disorder, it may be difficult to know how to help. Here are five ways you can support them.
Educate Yourself on Their Condition
One of the first steps in supporting someone receiving treatment for an eating disorder is educating yourself about their condition. Eating disorders and other mental conditions are often misunderstood and stigmatized in society, making it more difficult to receive proper treatment and support.
There are several resources available to learn more about various eating disorders and their causes, effects, etc. Consult the National Institute of Mental Health and other associations to learn the facts and dispel the myths surrounding eating disorders.
Engage in Conversation
Talk to your loved one. Reassure him or her that you are there for support as they progress through treatment. Eating disorders often make a person hesitant to engage in conversation. Ask them how they are doing or how their treatment is going. Talk to them about everyday subjects like local sports, their hobbies, etc. Any conversation will help overcome the feeling of isolation and support their progression through treatment.
Continue to Involve Them
Because eating disorders make a person feel isolated, your loved one may not feel welcomed at events and gatherings. Combat this by continuing to invite them to get togethers the same as you did before they were ill. Doing so may help your loved one feel less isolated as they see the care those close to them have for him or her.
Prepare Sensible Meals
If you are in the position (i.e. parent, spouse, roommate, etc.) to prepare and share meals with someone with an eating disorder, be mindful of portions and nutrition. Plan ahead with carefully planned mealtimes and ingredients. For restrictive eaters, regularity and consistency are important. In other cases, such as binge eating, some experts suggest shopping together to introduce healthier shopping habits.
Plan After-Meal Activities
Mealtimes are a source of anxiety for those suffering from an eating disorder. To help a loved one with this anxiety as they are receiving treatment, create healthy distractions. After a meal, propose watching a movie, taking a walk, or playing a game together. Activities done together can help your loved one resist the temptation of compensatory behavior such as excessive exercise, purging, etc.
Accompany Them During Treatment
Receiving treatment for an eating disorder can be a scary thing to go through. Having the love and support from someone close can help ease that anxiety and allow treatment to have its full effect. Consider offering to accompany your loved one during their treatment sessions, especially during the early stages. This may help them feel more comfortable until they are ready to attend treatment on their own.
If you have a loved one suffering from an eating disorder, helping them find professional treatment is one of the most effective ways you can help. High Focus Centers practices holistic treatment methods meant to help your loved one overcome their condition and encourage long-term wellness. Contact us today to learn how we can help your loved one down the path to recovery.