I know a lot of people have been asking me how to help people with eating disorders and what to say to them without being offensive. Honestly, it's not that easy. A lot of things can be triggering to someone struggling with an eating disorder and it varies depending on the person, type of ED, and how long they have been struggling with it.
Typically, it's easier to help someone when you catch it early on, otherwise, it is extremely hard to change their mindset. It is all a mind game, the weight loss/gain is just a result. Here are some things that may help you to understand a little better:
1. No we can't just "eat".
Eating disorders make you believe food is the enemy. That even a piece of lettuce will make you gain weight, and that you immediately need to burn it off. Yes, of course, you know you need food to survive, but it makes you care more about how you look than actually living.
2. The scale number will never be low enough.
Eating disorders LIVE for the scale. That is its only purpose. To see the number and get as LOW as possible. Thinner is better.
3. Eating disorders are selfish.
It doesn't want you to have friends. It doesn't want others influencing you or trying to change your mindset back to normal. It wants you completely isolated from everyone. And that is exactly what happens.
4. Eating disorders are not a choice.
No one WANTS to have an eating disorder. It is never intentional.
5. Eating disorders never fully go away.
Even though you see some people weight restored and doing well throughout their recovery, doesn't mean they are fully recovered. Honestly, it will never go away, it will always be lingering and it takes so much strength to not fuel it back to relapse.
6. Eating disorders love attention.
Yes, please tell me how skinny I am and acknowledge the dramatic weight loss...No. Do not do that. It only fuels the fire and creates a hunger for more.
7. Every struggle is different.
Everyone has different emotions and highs and lows.
8. No one is the same person they were before the eating disorder.
Fact. You might be similar, happier, healthier, but you will always think of food differently than you used to in some way, shape, or form.
9. Eating disorders will never eat anything unless they know how many calories are in it.
Don't bother going out to eat. Way to many calories.
10. Food is constantly being thought of.
It's an obsession. They make you plan out when and where you are going to eat in advance, and how much. It consumes almost 90% of a person's thoughts.
11. Social media feeds are filled with skinny models, food recipes, pictures, and diets.
It never goes away. They could be on social media for hours watching videos, researching, etc everything they could to lose weight or what the absolute lowest calorie foods are.
12. Eating disorders make you think you don't deserve to eat or that you shouldn't.
Again, manipulating your mind into thinking that food will make you gain weight, and that gaining weight is a bad thing.
13. Losing weight becomes the most important thing in life.
It makes you think that once you get to a certain weight or look a certain way that you will be happy with your life, but in reality, there is no magical number because any amount of weight loss is never enough.
14. It can be very stressful especially when other people come into play.
Nothing stresses a person with an eating disorder out more than themselves. When other people try to distract or hinder the eating disorder, our emotions become angered and think other people are the enemy, and trying to get in the way of your progress.
15. Eating disorders hate feeling full.
It is the worst feeling in the world. It prefers to feel your stomach rumbling and that you go to bed starving.
Always be patient and understanding. Eating disorders are extremely hard to overcome and it never really goes away. Talking to someone who has gone through it also helps. Having a good support system is one of the best ways to recovering. Please reach out to someone for help if you feel yourself falling into this mindset. For those who haven't gone through it, maybe this cleared up some things you just couldn't understand.