I’m going to list some suggestions for those who have a loved one who battles an eating disorder, who is a friend of someone with an eating disorder, and also anyone visiting with someone who has an eating disorder.
From the anorexia/bulimic’s side of things, it’s hard enough managing our urges and it is also a struggle to continuously work toward recovery. For myself, it’s hard enough eating on a regular basis, let alone eating what I want. It’s also difficult being in my body while everyone on the outside, looking in perceives things differently. Part of an eating disorder is the extreme distorted perception to feelings, and literally the body. I’ve had friends who were very helpful and knew how to say the right things and how to handle me, but also have had parents or co-workers who did not understand the internal issues, and physical struggle. So — read ahead for some simple suggestions when interacting with us in recovery, attempting recovery, or even struggling.
1. Never touch our food without asking. Most of us are people pleasers anyway, so we will most likely offer you something to eat. If not, ask but don’t go touching our food. There are only certain things we eat, most of the time that are ‘safe’ and it only sets off uncomfortable alarms. We’re happy to feed you, but don’t touch without asking.
2. If you are sleeping over with a friend, or staying with someone then most likely you understand the issues or at least know that we have some sort of mental illness. Please don’t move things and then not put them back. It drives us control freaks wild, especially when we have OCD. Don’t comment on how our houses or living quarters look, we know. Sometimes we nest, other times we have to let things get messy as long as its not us.
3. Don’t comment on our physical appearance – no “you look so healthy” or ” you look so much better” — talk about what we are wearing, like ‘oh I like your outfit” or “your hair today”. When it comes to our physical bodies, we’re very scare, protective, and picky. We mentally hear something different no matter how nice you are trying to be. Just focus on material things and don’t say anything about our body shape, size, weight loss, weight gain.
4. Never comment on what we are eating, how much we are eating, how little we are eating. We are already self-criticizing and fighting to do okay with our behaviors. Instead, ask us is there anything else you would like? Or can I get you anything else?
If you have any further suggestions, that are helpful for people to know, feel free to post below in a comment.