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A friend/colleague of mine is showing signs of an eating disorder - What do I do ?

There are no 'one size fits all' answers to these complex presentations of eating distress. However concerned friends and family members need to do the following:-

Learn about eating disorders from a book or internet.

Talk out you fear and confusion with a trained therapist who can explain ambivalence, and resistance, and make sense of illness related symptoms, before embarking on a conversation with the person you are worrying about.

Don't rush or encourage them to verbalise feelings. Listen carefully to what they do say but remain non-judgmental.

Do not accuse or label the individual.

Don't focus on food and eating habits - Struggles with food may mask far deeper concerns such as deep seated problems with self worth and emotional distress.

Eating disorders are complex mental health conditions which respond to specially trained expertise. It is unlikely you will be able to persuade or force family members or friends to recover. They need specific trained help to motivate them to change and support their recovery thereafter.

Christine El-Fourti

NCFED

Affiliate Practitioner of
The National Centre For Eating Disorders

© Christine El-Fourti 2009-2010