Friends and Family
Be aware of your own attitude towards food and the amount of focus on your weight and dieting practices in your family. Remember, the purpose of food is to provide energy for the body.

Try not to use food as a way to socialize.

Try not to argue at the table where food is being eaten. Such negative experiences become associated with eating and then food is thought of as a problem.

Allow older children and adults with eating disorders to be in charge of their own eating, unless the therapist has different advice.

Avoid being the "food cop" - monitoring the food that the person eats. Food is not the main issue, but should be regarded as an important issue in the patient's health. Should "weight" become a medical issue, then consult the person's doctor immediately.

Don't associate "weight" with the person's looks or body image. For instance, don't say "now that you've put on some weight, you look better." Most people dealing with an eating disorder have a very low self-esteem and poor body image. This is part of the illness.

Do not treat the person with a eating disorder like a young child.

If your young child has an eating disorder, that doesn't mean you can't give your child some parental guidance. Do not "lecture" them. That can do more harm. Remember that your child has many adult abilities which they need to develop and in most cases food is being used as a control method, which later can become an eating disorder.

When discussing the eating disorder, speak with compassion and concern. Be as descriptive as possible. Explain what you see by describing the person's problematic behaviors. State your observations in the "I" mode; for instance: "I noticed that you are skipping meals." Do NOT use the "YOU" mode: "You are skipping meals." Listen in a non-judgmental way.

Recognize that the person may deny your observations and may be upset, when confronted. Do not be discouraged. When, you have broken through their defense mechanism, the sufferer becomes frightened. Remain calm and show strength. Fighting and shouting achieve nothing. Wait till all parties have cooled down before any further discussions take place. In recovery there may be relapses, difficult days, and tensions may flare up again. Just like a roller coaster. Don't build up hopes. It's a long process before any form of actual recovery takes place and most of all remember, very few in numbers don't make it.

There's no such thing as an immediate recovery, even if the patient is hospitalized or taking prescribed medication. There is NO magic pill that can cure an Eating Disorder, but treatment can contribute to helping the patient overcome the problem.

Communication with all medical personnel is important. Discuss the type and progress of treatment with the medical team. (Keep in mind, if the patient is an adult, the therapist has the right to withhold personal information from anyone not authorized by the patient to see it. As the parent of a minor child, you are entitled to complete access to all records and medical personnel.)

There is nothing wrong with seeking counseling for yourself. As a parent or close friend, it can be very difficult to cope with the situation.

By understanding the illness and caring for yourself, you can contribute to assisting your loved one to recover.
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