I am supporting someone with an eating disorder

I am supporting someone with an eating disorder

"I would feel lost without SWEDA."

Client, anon

Supporting someone who has an eating disorder can be distressing. Eating disorders can have a devastating impact on friends and family and we understand that this can be isolating and challenging for everyone involved.

People supporting individuals with eating disorders are welcome to use our services too. Our Self-help Support Group and counselling services are available if you need support. We also offer training and presentations to help you understand this complex illness better.

Our family support has been a vital part of SWEDA's work for more than 20 years and we are proud of the difference our service has made in that time.

If you are supporting someone with an eating disorder, it is important to focus on the emotions and feelings of the person and not to concentrate too much on their food intake. Having access to information about eating disorders will help you understand that food and weight issues are often the symptoms of underlying emotional problems.

  • Listen to the person
  • Assure the person that you are there for them
  • Assure them that they are not alone and that you want to help
  • Be patient, recovery will only come about when the person is ready
  • Encourage them to seek help
  • Do not blame the person or get angry with them
  • Avoid talking about food, weight or their appearance
  • Try not to make mealtimes a battle ground
  • Do not force the person to eat

A gentle, encouraging attitude will hopefully lead the person with an eating disorder to seek professional help. Some gentle support may enable them to be open and honest about their feelings. In order for the person to recover, they need to want to get better. The greatest role of a supporter is to make the person feel accepted for who they are. Someone who values the person's individuality will be able to encourage them to develop in their own way and at their own pace, in an environment of care and trust.

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