Eating disorders can be extremely difficult to go through, and not just for the person with the disorder. It can be harrowing to watch someone you love suffer from an eating disorder. While it might be an uncomfortable experience, it is important to address it with them. It’s important to refrain from being judgmental or overly emotional. Instead, use these four tips to create a thoughtful approach.


Understand that, while you won't be able to save your loved one or make the decisions for them, you can show them love, support, and understanding. Before you speak with them, however, learn more about eating disorders. Learn about the psychology behind these disorders and common feelings people have that are dealing with them. When you take time to gain understanding, it's easier to put yourself in the other person's shoes. Educating yourself on your loved one’s disorder saves you from misconceptions and makes your heart tenderer toward their journey.


Find an environment that encourages your loved one to relax and feel comfortable. Try not to initiate the conversation around food, as this could be a trigger. Additionally, before broaching the topic, make neither you nor your loved one are feeling tired or upset. While it is a tough discussion to have, it's possible to find the right environment that'll help the experience become easier.


Before the discussion, you'll want to become informed on the most effective language to use. Using "I" statements, for example, will help. Talk about how it makes you feel to see your loved one suffer. It's also remarkably important to listen. Give your loved one the space they need to gather their thoughts and share their authentic feelings. Avoid judgmental language at all costs. It's also important to monitor your body language and facial cues. Since this is such a sensitive topic, you'll want to do all you can to promote security, trust, and safety.

Encouragement to Seek Help

Let your loved one know there are treatment options for eating disorders. It's even a good idea to do some research ahead of time and help them sort through the best options. If you can make the experience as easy as possible for them to enroll, that might increase their chances of going through with professional treatment. Make sure that your loved one knows that you will keep all of this sensitive information completely confidential.

Understand that your loved one’s recovery won't be an overnight success. It will take time and patience for all those involved. That said, if you commit to being a trustworthy support system, it will help your loved one along the path to recovery.

Author's Bio: 

Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University, where she studied communications. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her three-year-old husky, Snowball.