As mentioned before, binge eating is not normal behavior. When you see someone that seems to be engaging in this activity too frequently, it can actually be concerning.
When you realize what’s going on, there are some things you can do to help them feel better. Avoid using the word diet because that can make people more likely to get discouraged.
Instead, try thinking about your lifestyle as a healthier one than theirs. Perhaps you will notice changes when they do? This could mean changing how you eat, how active you are or both.
This article will go into more detail about what you can do to help their binging stop and how to recognize if something is important to them.
When someone you know is preoccupied with eating, it can make you feel nervous or even worried. You may wonder if they are still thinking about their body, or whether they will eat next.
This could be due to external factors like stressors at work or home, relationship issues, or health concerns. Or, it could be because of internal reasons like fears surrounding food, worries about being able to pay bills, or feelings of guilt for not helping yourself eat before.
Whatever the reason, these thoughts can add to any anxiety your friend already has. This can make them worry more, which can then cause them to binge eat even more.
It’s important to remember that binge eating is a dysfunctional way to cope with emotions.
Do not try to be funny
I read this story once where a friend told her roommate that her house was so beautiful, she had to do a quick tour before people started coming over for an invite. That is what it seems like with some binge eaters. They spend hours looking through their food diaries and prepping for eating days ahead of time, but when you talk to them they are totally normal and in control.
So instead of trying to make them feel better about themselves or telling them everything they’ve done right, which makes them feel even worse, don’t try to be funny. Don’t say anything too close to how they might describe their disorder to someone else because chances are they have already tried explaining it to friends and family members and it just made things harder.
Instead, be supportive and tell them that they should address their eating issues next week, when they will. You can also suggest talking to their doctor or therapist to see if there is anyone who could help them.
Some mental health professionals specialize in eating disorders so why not ask around to find out? Or maybe your friend would know someone who could refer you to one.
Do not force them to do anything
Beyond offering moral support, one of your friend’s most important roles is to help their loved one deal with eating-related thoughts and behaviors.
It can be difficult trying to get someone who has binge eaten to try healthier foods or ask for help in overcoming this habit. Because they may feel ashamed or embarrassed about how often they eat, some people avoid seeking treatment until it becomes an even bigger problem than before.
However, earlier intervention is always the best way to prevent binge eating from becoming more severe. Even if your friend feels that she/he will never suffer from binging, chances are he/she will at some point.
If you notice any warning signs such as frequent mood swings, irritability, crying spells, weight gain, or persistent hunger, then it’s time to intervene.
You can suggest various treatments for your friend including nutritional counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), or other diet interventions. Nutritionists usually work via appointment so that person does not have to come into their office every few days like CBT therapists do.
This can be helpful because sometimes patients cannot make appointments due to employment or school commitments. Nutritional counselors can give individualized advice and recommendations while working with your friend over the long term.
Overall, the goal of nutrition counseling is to teach your friend the fundamentals of good health by teaching them what nutrients they need and how to achieve these nutrient goals.
Ask how you can help
Sometimes, people may feel uncomfortable or even helpless when they notice changes in a friend’s behavior.
Friends sometimes place a lot of pressure on each other to meet their expectations for happiness and self-worth.
That is why it is important to ask whether there is something your friend can do to help himself/herself before you offer advice.
You don’t need to tell him/her what to do, but if he/she asks you, be direct about asking yourself if you can provide some time, support, or resources.
If you are not comfortable with that, then suggest that he/she talks to his/her doctor or therapist about possible ways to address this issue.
Does anyone else know about this?
Is there anything I can do to make sure he/ she gets the help he/ she needs?
These questions show that you are willing to put effort into supporting your friend through this difficult process.
Ask how they want to be helped
It’s very important for you to understand your friend’s eating disorder before helping them address it. You can’t effectively help someone if you don’t know what things make them feel bad about themselves, or why they think they need to eat more than they do.
In fact, some people with binge-eating disorders will actively avoid seeking help because they fear that others won’t take their eating habits seriously.
So, ask how they want to be helped. Are they looking to tackle dieting? Or trying to learn healthier meal planning strategies?
Are they hoping to recover from nutritional deficiency (like when they were drinking so much coffee) by taking supplements?
They may also want to work on stress management or other lifestyle changes like exercise.
Do not be distracted
It is very important that you do not get distracted by other things when your friend is eating. You should try to stay focused on them, their schedule, or whatever they were doing before they noticed how much food they ate.
This could mean talking to them, watching a movie with them, or just being around them so they will feel comfortable enough to eat in front of you.
It can also include making sure they are sleeping after meals as well as taking care of yourself while they are trying to help theirslef survive. Self-care is an excellent way to strengthen their friendship.
Blindly helping someone who has binge eating disorder may make the situation become worse for them. They might need more help later!
If you are struggling to understand what symptoms of binge eating yours would recognize, talk to your friends about it. Ask if there have been any changes with regard to hunger, meal times, or amount eaten during a bout.
You could also ask whether they have noticed weight gain or loss. If so, check for obvious signs of compulsive exercise (lots of activity beyond normal levels) which can be related to dieting.
How to help a friend with bulimia nervosa
People with this condition usually suffer from anxiety or depression first, which then sometimes turns into binge eating.
Binge eating is when you eat an unusually large amount of food within a short time frame.
It can be difficult for friends of someone with binge eating disorder to help them, because they feel like there is never a good time to ask about their symptoms or to confront them about it.
The most effective ways to help your friend deal with binge eating are by being honest and direct, and by encouraging them to seek outside help.
It’s important that you don’t make assumptions about why they may be engaging in binging behaviors, but at the same time you must acknowledge that something isn’t right.
If you’re having trouble deciding how to broach the subject, try asking if anyone has done anything to improve their health recently (for example, going through diet changes, starting exercise routines, etc.).
Provide food or a place to go to
For someone with binge eating disorder, thinking of new ways to eat is very difficult at times. This can be due to several reasons.
One reason is that they may feel ashamed or disgusted with how much they are eating. They may also not want to look in the mirror and see how fat they have become.
So instead of going out to get something to eat, they may stay home and eat what they know they like so they do not have to deal with these things.
Provide them with foods they like so they can relax and enjoy themselves. And if you notice that they are not really hungry, try to understand this as an uncomfortable feeling for them.
Give them the opportunity to work through their emotions by seeking help from professionals or family members.
They may need help finding a therapist or counseling services or they may already know about it but just cannot afford it.
There are many community resources available and free online programs as well.