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How to Help a Person with an Eating Disorder?

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Supporting an eating disorder requires just as much commitment as the person who needs the assistance. Eating disorders are not precisely an abnormal condition and are extremely common with young adults and teenagers. However, young girls and women have been the most affected by highly irregular eating patterns.

To support someone with a disorder, you must understand that it takes more than just the usual commitment to typical addictions. For example, the uncontrollable urge to eat or refrain from eating is one of the most complex conditions in recent times, and it requires that the person going through such and the one rendering help have a deep understanding of what it is.

Irregular munching of food or extreme dieting is a psychiatric illness caused by an unusual need to eat or stay from food. Someone with the condition generally knows that what they are going through isn’t normal, but they find it impossible to change the pattern. It is difficult for anybody to stop irregular food disorders. More often than not, professional or committed assistance from a friend or close relation is needed to go through the journey of becoming better. 

Different types of eating disorder

If you are looking to assist someone with an irregular need for food consumption or avoidance, come out of their condition. Then you must make them understand that there is a problem and the only possible way is to pinpoint exactly the type of irregular food cravings they have. 

There are three significant types of disorder: 

  • Anorexia nervosa.  Anorexia is a psychiatric condition of being excessively and unnecessarily paranoid about not getting fat. It is a major type of irregularity that makes people abstain from meals despite being extremely lean. When dealing with someone with this condition, you will have to talk and remind them that they need food. You could also start an eating challenge as it would help finding out the eating plan that would work.
  • Binge eating disorder. This condition forces excessive eating. Someone with this condition will only stop after feeling extreme discomfort and pain in the stomach due to bloating. This order leads to severe weight gain over a short time and is the most popular meal consumption disorder.
  • Bulimia nervosa. While some observers consider this condition as damage control for excessive consumption disorder because it involves deliberate sticking of the finger into the throat to trigger throwing up after a session of Binge-eating, it is unsafe. Excessive vomiting generally leads to dizziness, weakness, falling ill, and washing off the teeth over time. It is a common but dangerous approach taken by extreme eaters. 

Create a real commitment plan

Now that you know the different types of disorders, you have to relate them to the eating habits of a family member and friend you are trying to help. You must also treat the condition as a mental health issue and understand that planning offers a realistic route to recovery.

Also, you must understand that the process of creating a commitment plan requires serious effort from you, and the individual needs the help. The affected individual must first know that they have a condition that needs to be treated and understand that it may be uncomfortable to get the desired result. 

You could check eating disorder essays at StudyDriver to find research and solutions to them. You must understand that it may require a great deal from you constantly to assist, but then understanding that it is a sacrifice you may have to offer makes it worthwhile. 

Be positive

While it is true that having to be the one to ensure that another human does the right thing in terms of eating is not easy, you need to understand that persons with disordered eating are not in a great place themselves. Therefore, you have to ensure that you are always deliberately trying to give great energy. Showing frustration could undo all the efforts you and the individual have put together to overcome the condition. 

Most of these people are already short on confidence due to their peculiar health issues. Thus, hearing how they suck from someone entrusted with the responsibility to help them get better could affect their feelings and cause irreparable damage. This is truer if you are a close family member.

Hence you must understand the important role you play in their lives and encourage them to go for a healthy diet and meal plan. You must always be the more extensive care provider and on a regular basis, tell them how great they actually are and how close they are to getting control of their life. You must also avoid commenting negatively irrespective of your observations. Whether the person looks very lean or too fat, you should never ridicule them.

Also, if you are a parent with a kid going through the condition, your comments must always acknowledge how cool they look even if, in reality, you feel worried about their body image. You must realize that as the one providing support, you cannot afford to affect their confidence negatively.

Seek treatment

While you may want to assist a friend or relation with irregular meal consumption disorder, you need to know that they may need advanced treatment if medical complications are evident. For example, extreme muscle loss, persistent weakness, and dizziness are not good signs. Based on history, a good percentage of national eating disorders in most countries require in-office treatment. Therefore, If you think that the individual you are caring for needs expert assistance, you must ensure they get access to one.


As a parent of a teenager experiencing irregular food consumption or avoidance, it could be worrying, but a parent toolkit could help. This also goes for anyone that you may be caring for, irrespective of your ties. You would need to be prepared for different kinds of support equipment to assist them in getting over their condition.

It is possible to recover from the habit of extreme eating irregularity. What is required is high commitment and knowing when a medical practitioner with better treatment needs to step in.

Alicia Saville did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She is interested in mental health and well-being

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