An eating disorder is characterized by persistent, compulsive eating or excessive dieting that can get worse over time. People with this condition may show clear signs of stress due to their dieting or eating habits.
There are many different types of eating disorders. Some people only focus on thinness, while others develop other eating behaviors like pre-planned binges or regular fasting.
People with binge eating disorder (BED) eat too much during discrete periods of time without feeling full. This happens several times per week and can go onto hours at a time.
Some individuals suffer from purging where they use frequent self-induced vomiting or laxatives to achieve weight loss. These practices can be repeated for weeks, if not months.
Fortunately, help is available. There are professional therapists who work in the area of eating disorders. They have training in both individual and group therapies, as well as nutrition counseling.
Individual therapy helps you learn more about your emotions and how to cope with them. Nutritionists teach you about healthy diets and why some foods affect us differently than others.
Group therapy allows you to connect with and support others who struggle with similar issues. Here, you’re not alone. Many others have gone through what you are going through now, and there are resources online and via mobile app to aid you on your journey out.
This article will talk about some helpful strategies for treating someone with an eating disorder.
Sometimes people develop eating disorders because they feel inadequate about their appearance or worry about how to fulfill their personal goals due to weight loss,” said Dr. Jennifer Mascia, psychiatrist at The Center for Weight & Health Sciences in Hackensack, New Jersey. “It is important as a friend or family member to be aware of this so that you can identify symptoms early.
Become aware of warning signs such as frequent comments about your friend’s body or dieting behaviors,” she added. “Any changes in activity level, mood, sleep, and/or appetite are also indications of possible disordered eating.”
Experts agree that telling someone with an eating disorder he or she looks good can make them question their desire to eat and put more pressure on them to keep up appearances. It may also contribute to feelings of guilt associated with giving up food or limiting calories. – Nourished Living, The Centre For Healthy Relationships
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Let them eat
Sometimes, people with eating disorders will go beyond limiting their food intake to include making threats or doing things like throwing up or taking pills in order to get your attention so that you will make sure they find enough food.
This is very frustrating for those around them because it can put others in danger if they are not able to take care of themselves.
It is important to remember that even though these behaviors may seem scary or funny at first, what this person with an eating disorder is really looking for is help.
He or she may be trying to get your attention by acting out in ways that could hurt them or someone else.
There is always someone nearby who can offer some type of help or treatment for your friend. It does not matter whether you know about their disease or not, there are resources available to speak with professionals and/or family members.
Do not try to restrict their eating
One of the biggest triggers for people with binge-eating disorder is when you try to tell them how many meals they are allowed to have or make sure they do not go hungry, which can actually cause them to eat more as they feel sick from being overfed.
People with BED often learn how to relax about food and enjoy it, so trying to reduce what they eat may only help make their hunger worse. It also may scare them away from food completely because they fear that if they allow themselves to be hungry, something is wrong with them.
Instead of restricting foods, find other ways to motivate the person to seek healthier habits. For example, why not reward yourself with a snack after work every day? Or maybe suggest going out for lunch instead of buying snacks at home.
Another way to help someone who has binged due to an eating disorder is to recognize the symptoms and deal with them appropriately. If you notice signs such as frequent mood swings, irritability, crying spells, agitation, depression, weight loss, or gain, speak with your doctor immediately.
Be aware of your own eating habits
Let’s say for example that you know someone who is struggling with her or his diet.
You can easily start to feel overwhelmed, even anxious, when you try to persuade them to eat something they have been avoiding.
The more stressed out you are about their health, the less likely they will want to listen to you.
So instead, ask yourself what you could do to help them right now?
Practice mindfulness – being conscious and present of what you are doing at this moment.
For example, if you know someone who is trying to limit food intake, maybe offer to make them some tea or toast so that they can sit down and enjoy it later when they feel like it.
or Make a snack or meal time easier by prepping things ahead of time.
In addition to all of these tips, ask yourself how much stress you are putting onto others in order to help them.
If you need help too, talk to friends or family members, get counseling, find online support groups — there are many available free of cost or via paid services.
Ensure you eat properly
When someone with an eating disorder does not feel hungry, they may begin to starve themselves or use more expensive nutrition supplements in an attempt to gain weight.
People with eating disorders will often deny that they are doing anything wrong by skipping meals or going without nutritional supplements. This is because they fear what people would think of them if they knew how poorly they were looking after their health.
It can be very difficult for loved ones to tell whether or not someone has an eating disorder when there are no clear symptoms. However, it’s important to pay close attention to any changes to your friend’s behavior, as well as comments about their appearance. If you do notice something suspicious, speak to your friends directly and ask if anyone has done anything that makes you uncomfortable.
If you are worried about a friend who seems to have lost interest in food, start buying smaller portions and lower cost foods to see if they seem happier. A good place to look for help is your local charity shop. Many charities run free lunch programs for young people, so asking if they offer such a program could give you some ideas.
Help them exercise
For someone with eating disorder, this can be very difficult to do due to how their body is affected by the disease. Because they worry about looking fat or being seen exercising, they never make time to work out on their own.
When they try to workout with you, it may be because they want your help finding a good workout program that works for them or they might not know what kind of exercises are needed to improve their fitness level.
Some people have trouble controlling their hunger so they eat more than normal before the workout which could put extra weight on them. This could also contribute to them feeling tired or even sick after working out, making it harder for them to keep doing it.
If you’re willing to help someone who has an eating disorder get into shape, start by asking if they’ve tried other types of workouts. Some people like swimming while others enjoy yoga.
Connect them with a local eating disorder support group
If you are aware of someone who has an eating disorder, there is something you can do to help them. One thing you can do is connect they person with a local eating disorders support group or chat room.
There are many different types of groups that cater to all levels of people in recovery. Some only have open meetings while others have online forums where individuals interact more freely.
Whatever type of meeting place they choose, it’s always good to let go of your thoughts and feelings so that they can be worked on by professionals.
This way you not only provide moral support, but also learn how to cope with this situation yourself if needed. It’s also helpful for their family members because they get exposed to different ways to respond to changes in behavior.
Recognize the warning signs
Many people may not know that someone they love has eating disorder symptoms. If you are ever made aware of these, it is your responsibility to do something about it.
It is very important to recognize the early stages of eating disorders so that you can help prevent them from developing into full-blown disorders. Unfortunately, some individuals with eating disorders will even go through elaborate lengths to conceal their condition.
Making changes in how well people feel about themselves due to the risk factor of having an untreated eating disorder can be difficult.
There are several things that you can do to help promote wellness for others who have eating disorder symptoms. Here are some tips.