Counseling 101: How To Talk Someone Out Of An Eating Disorder
If I asked you to picture someone with an eating disorder, what comes to mind? — Jennifer Rollin MSW, LCSW-C
Eating disorder is an extreme mental illness that enables the individual to take drastic measures to conform to their idea of beauty. In case it’s anorexia, for example, they may work out till their system drops and not touch any food for as long as possible. With binge eating, on the other hand, the person wolfs down various dishes in one sitting as if somebody will clear them away anytime.
Regardless of the types, however, the disease harms the patient’s mind and body in the process. It isn’t unlikely to develop an ulcer and various health conditions as well due to it. So, it’ll be incredible if you can talk a loved one out of an eating disorder.
Professional counseling can come when he or she is fully ready, but it matters to encourage them to get better even at home. Below are several hints on how to do that.
Many people who don’t “look like they have an eating disorder” based on their weight, gender, or skin color are not identified as having an eating disorder by medical professionals. — Alexis Conason Psy.D.
1. Learn About Eating Disorders
The disease will stay unsolvable for as long as possible if you have no idea about what it is and what it does to someone. You may even do something inappropriate by assuming that drastic moves will push them towards the path to recovery.
Our advice, therefore, is to gain knowledge about every eating disorder known to man. It will be especially helpful in case the specific illness remains a mystery to you. Volumes ofDiagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) of the American Psychiatric Association is an excellent source of such information. You can also learn about them from blogs and health-related websites.
2. Know The Signs
With some knowledge under your belt, you may now acquire the perception of the patient. In particular, ask him or her about how they feel about themselves. Are they happy whenever they see their reflection in the mirror? Do they feel satisfied with their appearance?
Negative answers, of course, indicate that there’s something wrong. But you need to consider as well that they may be lying about being alright to lessen your worries. Thus, again, it’s vital to read their actions and realize the symptoms of the illness to understand what they’re going through in reality.
3. Watch Your Words
It can get frustrating to make your loved one notice that they are beautiful as is, yet that doesn’t give you the freedom to be insensitive. Spewing out harsh statements, in fact, won’t help people with eating disorders to get better. Words like ‘fat’ or ‘heavyweight’ will hit the patient like solid rocks and force them to work on their weight harder than ever.
If your goal is to enable them to overcome the problem, you should be more careful with your words. Always think before you utter anything, mainly if it has a connection to body image. Criticize no one’s figure as well in front of them to prevent feeding them with cynical ideas indirectly.
Sometimes attitudes and behaviors emerge in response to the overwhelming despair and hopelessness that accompanies watching a loved one starving herself/himself. — Judy Scheel Ph.D., L.C.S.W., CEDS
4. Cheer Them Up
Eating disorders are just as challenging to deal with as any other disease. The patients may want to get rid of their issues too – it’s just that they feel as if they’re alone in this battle. For that reason, always give them a boost of confidence.
Compliment every single treatment they try to recover from the illness. Don’t stop telling the individual as well that they are more than enough. Although they may not initially believe it, your constant reminders can hopefully make a significant difference soon.