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Ways to Support a Friend with an Eating Disorder

Watching someone you care about struggle with an eating disorder can be painful. If you’re unsure how to support them throughout their recovery journey, keep these ideas in mind.

Eat normally in front of them

Watching others eat a balanced meal can be helpful for those with an eating disorder, unless they specifically ask you not to. Showing them that a positive, steady relationship with food is possible without directly saying it can be beneficial to their health and wellbeing.

Invite them out do things unrelated to food

Let your friend know that you’re thinking about them by inviting them to do things with you that are not centered around food or body image. Take your friend out to a sporting event or an art show instead of a restaurant or night club. Even if they decline, it still lets them know they are loved and cared about by others.

Avoid comments about their body or food

Saying things like “Wow, you look so good today!” or “That’s not enough food on your plate” reinforces diet culture. It’s not healthy to frame body or food choices as achievements, especially when someone may be struggling with an eating disorder.

Let them know you’re there to help

Wrestling with an eating disorder can be isolating. Let your friend know that you are always there for them. Even if they might not want to talk about it, sometimes just being present is all your friend might need from you. Be there for your friend and support them through difficult times.

Check in on them

Asking your friend how their day is going or how their weekend was is a great way to show them you care, even if it feels like a small gesture. Be a present, compassionate voice in your friend’s life and check in on them often.

It’s important to accept that you can’t just “cure” your friend. Be loving, supportive and kind when interacting with those who are having a hard time. Taking control and trying to cure them won’t work, but you can take care of your friends by being a source of comfort during their recovery journey.

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