If a family member or significant other is diagnosed with an eating disorder, life won’t be as normal as you want it to. Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia affect the entire family. Each member is expected to struggle with his life and how he or she can fit into this life.
You may have many questions and encounters, especially when you are not sure how you will deal with your loved one. These tips and guidelines are created to help you go through those tough times so that you will be able to offer support while capably taking care of yourself amidst the challenges that the family is confronted with.
There are no fast and convenient answers. If a person with an eating disorder is to be cured, he will have to make dramatic changes in his behavior and views. Some members of the family may be forced to make necessary changes as well. We suggest that you take advantage of personal and online help to make going through these changes as smooth and successful as possible.
Encourage your loved one to consider counseling. Support them by showing compassion, support, and empathy. One way showing them these would be to be steadfast in your suggestion for your loved one to get into counseling. If he is an adult and does not want it, try communicating with the counselor yourself, with the aim of better understanding the disorder to capably support your loved one when he decides to get help. A counselor or therapist will also help you build boundaries for yourself so that you will learn how not to allow your loved one to show ED behaviors.
Don’t get too involved in conflicting discussions over food, being overweight, or eating. If you are concerned that your loved one may be dehydrated, has had dramatic weight loss or gain, and other issues, contact your therapist right away. If you don’t have one, reach out to one and try talking it out with him or her, along with your loved one is possible.
Accept certain attitudes. If one of your family members has anorexia, and he is designated to do the food shopping and cooking on that day, consider that he might use this position to deny his own needs to eat. Show him that you care for him, and you are concerned if he has had something healthy to eat.
Avoid manipulating the loved one with an eating disorder. Don’t use lines like, “you are destroying this family,” or “just give up already.” Your loved one is not to blame for what happens to you – you are. Every one of us is responsible for his or her welfare.
Don’t forget to care for yourself. Yes, you do love your family, and you want to help in whatever way you can to help your loved one recover from her sickness, but this doesn’t mean that your world has stopped turning for other areas in your life. Don’t ever forget to have fun, build relationships with other family members and friends, and work and play hard to achieve your dreams.
Be more verbally and physically expressive of your emotions to your family. Be truthful about getting frustrated, angry, and weak. Share your feelings with your family and, in the process, grow closer together.
Be sensible about diets and other fads. Be honest with yourself before deciding to go on a diet and exercise plan. What is your goal? Is it to become less insecure or to be healthier? Are your planned activities mainly for weight loss? It is difficult for the person suffering from an eating disorder to attempt to change what they think about weight loss when other loved ones encourage the importance of being thin and sexy.
Appreciate your loved one for her good deeds, achievements, and other positive qualities. Telling your loved one who has an eating disorder about the positive side of her can help her improve her self-confidence and a self that is safe, distinct, and steadfast.
Be there for him when he needs emotional and social support. If you’re having a tough time doing this, you might consider asking for one yourself so that you’ll learn new ways of building closeness and love between family members. We often repeat what we learned from our past relationships.
Asking if your loved one is feeling better won’t do any good. This question is a handful and implies that the concerned individual must quickly recover so that everyone else will be rid of the stress and anxiety from caring for her. Rather, observe if she has improved or if her behavior has been more subtle and consistent. Find out if she is becoming less judgmental of herself. After all, eating is just an indication of the primary issues in the first place.
Ultimately, understand that your family or significant other is perhaps hesitant to get rid of her usual routines related to disordered eating. In time, with the help, support, and love from the whole family, coupled with the proper treatment, your loved one will be on her way to recovery and healing.