How to Help Someone with An Eating Disorder: What You Should Understand

How to Help Someone with An Eating Disorder: What You Should Understand

Published On: May 23, 2022

Bayridge Counselling Centres frequently answers questions from concerned friends and relatives about how to help someone with an eating disorder (ED). These questions typically include:

  • “What is an eating disorder?”
  • “Do I have an eating disorder?”
  • “How do you know if you have an eating disorder?”
  • “Is anorexia an eating disorder?”

Research from the National Initiative for Eating Disorders reveals that over one million Canadians struggle with various eating disorders. Most of them contend with bulimia, anorexia, and binge eating disorders weekly, and their sizes might not always reflect their mental states.

In this article, we will explain the nature of the most common eating disorders and how to know if you are already developing one through repetitive lifestyle habits. We will also outline how to help someone with an eating disorder, be it friends and family members with bulimia, binge eating, or anorexia eating disorders.

What Is an eating disorder?

ED symptoms are complex and pinning down a specific illness can take weeks. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and other eating disorders can cause severe malnutrition, muscle loss, heart problems, and permanent bone damage.

Eating disorders can significantly impact self-esteem, making you seek gratifying behaviours and worsening your relationship with food. A bad relationship with food can affect people from all walks of life, but they develop more often among people with disordered eating patterns in early childhood.

Being overweight or underweight does not mean you have an eating disorder, and self-diagnosis is never helpful for mental illnesses. Studies from the National Eating Disorder Information Centre saw that more than 40% of nine-year-old females in Canada are engaging in diets even when they have a healthy BMI.

The first step to learning how to help someone with anorexia or another eating disorder is becoming familiar with the symptoms.

Do I Have an ED?

Bulimia, anorexia, and binge eating disorders are the most prevalent in Canada and, sadly, they take thousands of lives every year. So, how do you know if you have an eating disorder? The following are common symptoms of one:

  •       Finding excuses to skip eating foods at the appropriate times
  •       Startling weight loss
  •       Obsessive calorie counting, self-weighing, dieting, and food groups
  •       Putting on multiple layers of clothes to conceal weight loss
  •       Lying about being hungry
  •       Binge eating and then throwing up snacks and meals
  •       Delayed or missed periods for females
  •       Obsessive exercising

How to Help Someone with Anorexia

A person with an anorexia eating disorder will show physical symptoms like irregular menstrual cycles, fainting, dizziness, muscle weakness, and an underpowered immune system. When you notice these signs in a loved one, pick a time to talk to them privately and discuss your concern about their mental well-being. Try writing out your thoughts before the discussion so you can elaborate on your points more clearly.

Be caring, understanding, and firm, and refer them to a mental health professional that you can trust.

Get Professional Counselling Today

Our licenced psychologists and mental health advocates at Bayridge Counselling Centres will take every opportunity to educate the public about how to help someone with an eating disorder. Call us today at (905) 319-1488 if you would like to book an appointment.

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