What helped your eating disorder
Eating disorders> loved ones
1. The most important things in a nutshell
An eating disorder is not only a great burden for those affected, but also for the environment. It is difficult to find general tips on how to deal with those with eating disorders. However, there are some tips that family and friends should pay attention to. Information and knowledge about the disease are important prerequisites for developing a better understanding of those affected. It is also very important to endeavor to deal with one another in a "value-free" manner: Assigning blame, pressure and expectations are counterproductive. It is just as important to be aware of your own limits and to take good care of yourself.
2. Notes for relatives
Seeing that someone close to you has an eating disorder is not easy for loved ones. Misunderstanding, insecurity, helplessness or anger are possible reactions. The following information can support relatives in dealing with those affected:
- Information: To be well informed about the disease is a prerequisite for better understanding the behavior of the person affected. Therefore, relatives should first deal with the disease. Information material is available e.g. on the Internet and at advice centers (eating disorders> addresses).
- Open Talk: Anyone who would like to address the affected person about the changed behavior should do so carefully and in a quiet moment. It is important to talk about your own perception without making any reproaches. The subjects of food and weight should not be in the foreground, but rather the concern that the person concerned is apparently not doing well. Neither a dramatization nor a trivialization of the observed behavior is helpful. The person concerned may react with denial or anger.
Depending on the insight into the disease, denying the disease is typical. Relatives should then offer to be there for those affected when they need them, but not press them.
- Motivate to counseling: It can be helpful to suggest that the person concerned contact a counseling center without obligation. It also makes sense to draw his / her attention to options for anonymous advice, e.g. on the Internet or on the phone. But even with this, the relatives shouldn't exert any pressure and should be patient. The person concerned has to decide for himself when to seek help. It is not possible to help people who have not yet recognized their illness themselves or are not yet ready to do anything about it.
- Doctor visit: If a physical hazard is to be assumed, relatives should insist on a doctor's visit. Eating disorders can lead to life-threatening conditions, so in this case it is important to act - even if the sufferer does not see the need.
- Leave treatment to experts: Relatives have to accept that they cannot treat the disease. Only experts are responsible for this. You should trust the chosen therapy and not interfere, because that unsettles the person affected. Inquiries about the content of the therapy hours should also be avoided, as the topics are often very conflictual and should only be discussed within the protected framework of therapy.
However, relatives should be prepared to face problems when they are involved in therapy, as problems often arise in the family environment. The person concerned is often only the symptom carrier and dependent on the cooperation of the whole family.
- Get help yourself: In order to cope better with the difficult situation, relatives should seek help themselves. There are self-help groups for relatives where they can exchange ideas with others and support one another. Psychotherapy may also be useful.
- Self care: Family members should also look after their own well-being, keep meeting friends, and doing things that are good for them. It is important to consider: They can be fine even if the person concerned is not doing well. By taking good care of themselves, relatives also help those affected.
- Refrain from assigning blame: In no case should parents blame each other. Allegations are not helpful to anyone. It is important that parents pull together in dealing with the disease. If that is difficult, a joint consultation can be useful.
- Avoid comments on food and figure: It is important that relatives do not get involved in discussions about food and weight, because they do not lead to anything. Comments on the figure and the eating behavior of other people (e.g. acquaintances or actors) should also be avoided, as those with eating disorders react very sensitively to such statements.
- To be patient: Healing from an eating disorder takes time and comes with setbacks. Relatives should be aware of this and not burden the person concerned with exaggerated expectations.
3. Notes for friends
In principle, the same information applies to friends as to relatives. In addition, friends should also note the following:
- Keep in touch: Often those with disordered eating isolate themselves and cancel appointments. Friends should still try to keep in touch, even if it's not easy. But you should also pay attention to your own limits. Even with a longer stay in hospital, it is important to maintain friendship so that the person concerned is not completely alone after discharge.
- Other topics: In the case of people with eating disorders, everything revolves around food and weight. In order not to aggravate this and shift the focus, other topics of conversation should be in the foreground, if possible.
4. Related links
Eating Disorders> Forms and Causes
Eating Disorders> Treatment
Eating Disorders> Financial Aid
Eating Disorders> Addresses
Last update: 08/15/2019
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