Changing how you talk about eating is one of the first steps in helping your girlfriend get better with her body image. If you start by thinking about changing what you say, then eventually you will!
The more aware you are of how she feels about her shape, the easier it will be for her to work on changing that perception. You can also make her feel less stressed or uncomfortable by using different strategies when you notice her feeling this way.
It’s important to remember that your girlfriend has probably put a lot of effort into developing her self-image as well as her diet and exercise routines. She may even have gone through times where she felt very close to killing herself due to her body image.
Don’t assume that things will always look good and that she’ll never need help because of this, especially if you’re meeting her for the first time while she’s in an unhealthy place. Make every attempt to understand why she might be struggling with her weight and try not to compare yourself to her – there’s no reason you should!
Instead, think about ways to compliment her on her looks and emphasize the positive attributes she has (which must be plenty!). Ask whether there’s anything you could do to help her lose some extra pounds and find appropriate clothes that fit properly. It’s totally okay to suggest these things!
This article will go into more detail on some helpful tips.
Do not try to help her until she is ready
If you discover that your girlfriend has an eating disorder, do not get involved or try to help her until she is willing to talk about it honestly and seriously.
This can be very difficult as most people find disordered eaters attractive at first, which is one of the major symptoms.
Many individuals with bulimia will diet consistently for weeks or even months before experiencing what they call “counters” in their efforts. This can make them feel attracted to their own actions, making it harder to recognize symptoms.
If you are confronted with these symptoms, remember that this behavior is uncomfortable for both you and your loved one. It may also hurt others who want to associate with her because of her reputation.
Do not force yourself onto her plate nor should you insist that she look healthy. Reaching out to other family members or friends to ask if anyone knows something is very helpful.
Legal rights vary from state to state, but most require someone with a close relationship with the person to intervene before professional help can be sought.
Encourage her to seek a therapist
An eating disorder is a mental health condition that can cause someone to go through drastic measures such as self-starvation or excessive weight gain.
In fact, some studies show that up to 90% of people with an eating disorder also suffer from depression. This makes sense since people with eating disorders often feel very much unhappy or depressed about their body and food.
So while it’s important for friends to be aware of how unhealthy eating habits affect you, it’s even more crucial to help your loved one find the appropriate source for professional counseling.
There are many good therapists who work in the field of eating disorders so don’t hesitate to ask around! You could also visit local clinics to see if there’s anything they offer.
Whatever you do, never make comments like “You shouldn’t eat so little” or “You look really thin” because these words could set off dangerous behaviors for her.
Instead, try saying something along the lines of “I know you must be trying hard to get rid of those extra pounds, but maybe you should consider just letting yourself enjoy what you eat a little bit.”
This way she will hear your encouragement and hopefully take some time to recognize this advice before dismissing it.
Another thing you can do is make sure she is always drinking enough water and taking short breaks during meals.
Ask how she is feeling
Sometimes when someone has an eating disorder, they may seem happier at first, but this usually doesn’t last.
If you are wondering why your girlfriend seems different than her normal self, ask how she is feeling. Is she crying often? Are there changes in her behavior or habits?
It is very important that you do not make any comments about what she should or shouldn’t be doing to fix herself. This could make her feel even more anxious and insecure.
Instead, try to understand what was going through her mind when she decided to go shopping today for new clothes. Was it because she wanted to look good for you? Or did she buy those clothes because she needed to prove to herself that she can eat whatever she wants, even though she feels sick while she is doing it?
By asking questions, you will learn more about her body image and whether or not she might have anorexia or bulimia. You also will know if these behaviors are worsening due to something you said or done.
Make her eating schedule and eat with her
It’s important for partners of people with an ED to understand that their loved one feels insecure when they make food choices or ask them if they are hungry.
This can be especially true in those times when she decides not to cook, buy foods at places that do not have pictures, or choose fast foods over home-cooked ones.
When you try to force her to eat what you prepare, it makes her feel bad about herself because you assume she is not good enough to satisfy your appetite. This only worsens her body image issues and feelings of hunger.
She may also feel guilty about how much you made her eat and how much she “failed” as a mother by making you fill up on food. All these emotions only feed her disordered thinking.
If she wants to lose weight, let her! But don’t pressure her into doing so while you are around. Let her know that it will take her time to get back into a healthy balance meal rhythm and that you will be there to help her along the way.
Make sure to keep conversations about diet neutral and non-judgmental. Don’t worry about getting fat food out of her, instead focus on having fun together and exploring different diets.
Hopefully, she will eventually realize that you are just trying to love and support her and not hurt her.
Do not criticize her eating habits
When your partner is trying hard to lose weight, avoid criticizing their body or what they are wearing. This could be seen as an attack on them as a person and can make them feel even more insecure about themselves.
Instead of commenting on how thin she looks, try instead to praise her for choosing to love herself and work on improving his/her appearance.
Give her kudos for seeking out ways to improve her look and being passionate about it.
This will probably take more effort at first, but in the long run, this will help her see that you care about her and want to get rid of any negative body image.
Furthermore, ask yourself if this behavior is something you would expect from someone with no self-love. If so then chances are it’s something you have gone through before and you may be able to offer some tips or tricks to help facilitate recovery.
Disclaimer: Only do this if you are sure that she really has an ED and not just someone who feels bad about themselves and wants to diet.
Be there for her
Sometimes, eating disorders can become an obsession with someone. This is particularly true when it becomes evident that you’ve got something going on.
It’s important to remember that this person you love could be struggling with some sort of health issue. It may even be an illness that has no clear cause.
However, what you can do as a friend is stay focused on how much she loves you, and help her feel safe.
This means being aware of what types of behaviors are warning signs in anyone who shows symptoms of having an ED. If you notice anything strange about her body or behavior, talk to her about it!
Don’t make any assumptions, but try not to worry either.
If you’re ever worried about whether or not she’ll eat, ask herself if she’s been exercising, and why. Is she trying to look thinner? More attractive?
Does she seem tired more often than usual? Does she forget to shower sometimes? All these things could mean she’s not feeling well physically, and that could be related to her eating habits.
Her lifestyle might indicate that something else isn’t right.
Do not push her to eat
Sometimes, especially if your girlfriend has an eating disorder, you can make it harder for her to stay hungry by pushing her to eat.
This is never okay! If she comes across as being uncomfortable with what you are doing or trying to convince her that she needs to eat, then chances are she will want to prove you wrong and show very little appetite.
She may even feel pressured into eating so that she does not appear to be starving herself.
If this happens, try talking to her about how she feels, and ask whether there is anything she would like to have or taste. Try getting her to talk also, maybe about something interesting that she is reading or listening to.
Hopefully she will feel more comfortable sharing her feelings then. Don’t worry about whether she is ‘eating enough’- helping her find internal balance is much more important at this stage.
Once she seems happier, she may wish to eat some of what you offered before, but only if she wants to – no one should feel forced to put food in their mouth.
Ask how she would like to try to lose weight
There is an excellent chance that her diet consists of nothing but chips and soda. Even if you have never noticed it, chances are your girlfriend has gone through a stage where she will not eat anything except for certain foods.
She may even go as far as starving herself or using food as a way to feel in control. When you notice something abnormal going on with her body, start by asking how she would like to try to lose weight.
This could be talking about her overall health and fitness, trying different diets, or just telling you what kind of eating she feels like doing at this time. By being aware of her symptoms, you can work towards helping her get better and lead a healthy life.
Does anyone else know about her eating disorder? Is there someone who can help her deal with it? Having people around her that understand what she goes through can play a big part in her recovery.