The “prequels” to this article, 14 Things Your Loved One With An Eating Disorder Wants You To Know (but is afraid to tell you) and 9 MORE Things You Need to Know To Support Your Loved One With an Eating Disorder have been super popular with all you Recovery Warriors out there.
For that reason, we decided to give you this sequel. We hope these things will help you support your loved one with an eating disorder, or that you can share this article with your support system if you are currently struggling.
1. Eat with your loved one
Share a meal and connect with them by talking about subjects and topics not related to food or health. Eating is one of the most difficult parts of recovery. Pleasant distraction while eating a meal can be invaluable.
Eating is a way we connect in our culture and is meant to be enjoyed. Help your loved one slowly begin to associate eating with pleasure and connection. And remember, this will take time.
2. Be very mindful of your own comments about eating and food
Please avoid making comments such as, “I shouldn’t eat this, I ate too much, I am being bad eating this”, etc.
Any judgments attached to eating and food can be harmful. Instead, explore these issues inside yourself and determine if you have areas you can heal as well.
3. Find and attend a support group for loved ones of people struggling with eating disorders
Loving someone who is struggling is extremely difficult and you deserve support by connecting with others who understand.
This can also be an extremely helpful place for you to ask questions and gain insight into your situation.
4. If appropriate- participate in family therapy
Eating disorders are a disease the entire family is affected by and can be a symptom of larger issues.
Labeling one person as sick and assuming the rest of the family is “well” is not only inaccurate but not helpful. As your loved one heals, it will likely cause changes in your family system and the entire family can benefit from therapy.
5. Consider therapy for yourself
Again, you deserve support and it an be extremely helpful to explore your own relationship with food, coping skills, communication skills and boundaries.
This will not only help your loved one but also help you.
6. Make your own self-care a priority
When we are concerned about someone we love it can be easy to put our own self care on the back burner.
Not only do you need to take care of yourself so that you remain healthy and can offer support, but you are also a positive role model for your loved one.
If you expect them to prioritize self care and health you need to be a shining example to them of how this is done.
You must trust your loved one’s treatment team, the process of recovery, and the ability your loved one. You are not in control of their recovery (lets face it, if you were, they would be recovered already).
Just as your loved one has to trust the recovery process and their body and the wisdom of professionals, so should you.
8. Don’t give up hope
Relapses and multiple treatments can be a part of the journey. And even though it may feel your loved one is going in circles, recovery is often like a spiral staircase.
Just when you think you are in the same place as before, you realize you are learning new lessons and pushing forward to higher levels of health.
9. Know that you are a valuable and vital part of your loved one’s journey through recovery
This one has been said before, but it’s worth repeating. Just the fact that you are reading this article shows that you are invested in learning as much as you can to support your loved one.