If you know people who have eating disorders, there are ways that you can lend support to help them deal with the situations better. Being there to help manage the trials and tribulations of their condition may also help these individuals take the steps that are needed to overcome their disordered eating patterns. Here are some of the best ways to help and support the people in your life with eating disorders.

Be Relatable

Eating disorders are often caused by past emotional traumas or other adverse life events, and you can possibly help the people in your life by relating your own experiences to theirs. Sharing your fears, frustrations and other struggles that you have faced can make these people realize that they’re not alone. It’s also important to give people the opportunity to clearly express what’s on their minds without interrupting or trying to dominate the conversation with your own personal struggles. Sometimes you can do nothing except listen, but the power of listening should not be underestimated.

Encourage Them to Seek Treatment

Even though you want to lend support, it’s important to not act as a therapist and instead encourage the people with eating disorders to seek treatment from professionals who are experienced in this field. Talking to a counselor, a psychiatrist or another mental health specialist can often be highly effective. There are also inpatient eating disorder treatment programs that may work well for the people in your life.

Avoid Suggesting Simple Solutions

Giving someone the advice to just eat or stop worrying about their weight or body shape could be detrimental. Eating a lot of food in front of someone who struggles with a condition like anorexia to try to get them to follow your lead is also a bad idea. These seemingly simple solutions aren’t easy for people with eating disorders, and the individuals who suffer have to ultimately learn how to deal with their mental and emotional struggles better to improve their eating habits.

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Recognize That Men Also Have Eating Disorders

You may be surprised to learn that men can also struggle with eating disorders. Men can sometimes face even greater stigma than women and may be less inclined to seek treatment. If you know a man or younger boy who struggles with disordered eating, it’s important to take their struggle seriously and be in contact with the individual regularly to offer support.

It’s possible to help the people in your life who deal with eating disorders and play a proactive role in their recovery. By taking the time to listen and offer treatment suggestions without being too pushy, you can help these individuals move toward a brighter future.