centered within logo cenered within - eating disorders, body esteem, personal growth, relationships
Andrea Borgatello, LCSW #LCS20359

For Friends

Being a friend to someone who has food issues can be a very overwhelming experience. You may feel helpless as you observe your friend become increasingly obsessed with food, weight and/or exercise.

Dealing with your friend’s behavioral changes and mood instability can evoke feelings of frustration, anger, hopelessness and helplessness. His/Her personality might also change, leaving you wondering “who is this person?”

What you can do

• Get educated -- Know the facts about food, weight and exercise. This will help you reason against any inaccurate ideas that your friend may use to validate their behaviors. (Perfect Illusions, PBS)

• Communicate concerns -- Speak directly with your friend about your specific concerns. Address patterns of behaviors rather then isolated events. Once you have confronted your friend, you may also need to consider telling someone else about your concerns. Eating disorders are serious conditions that, without early intervention, can become life threatening.

• Set healthy boundaries -- Caring about someone with an eating disorder does not mean being manipulated. Avoid holding their secret or making idle threats in an effort to “help.”

• Be supportive -- Your friend needs your patience, understanding and support to help them get back to a healthy life.

If the person you are concerned about refuses help or treatment, it is important that you seek professional advice. Talking with an eating disorder specialist can help you navigate this overwhelming experience. It is very common for friends and family members of those with eating disorders to become angry, even resentful, as they watch their loved one choose to self-destruct.

As a result they might engage in fruitless efforts (i.e. power struggles, threats and/or use of guilt/shame) to coerce change. Others might opt to ignore and /or avoid the issue, stating, “She just wants attention and I don’t want to reinforce her behavior.” These techniques seldom work; in fact, they often exacerbate the problem.

An eating disorder specialist can help guide you through what may feel like a minefield.

"We're here for a reason. I believe a bit of the reason is to throw little torches out to lead people through the dark." - Whoopi Goldberg

address: 106 West Mission, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, Phone number 805-680-1216