What to Say

What do you say to someone with an eating disorder? 
We asked current sufferers and these were the responses:

What to say:

  • Offer to accompany the person to a therapy appointment.  If the person is not in therapy, offer to set up an appointment and go with him/her.
  • Call or visit and ask how I'm doing.  Just listen, don't judge or give me unsolicited advice.
  • Honestly, just being supportive and loving would make a world of difference.
  • "I love you no matter what."
  • "Do you want me to help problem solve or just listen right now?"
  • "Is there anything I can do to help you right now?"
  • I think just being THERE for the person is really important. For me I think a large part of getting better was having someone who simply loved me and supported me.
  • Giving compliments that have absolutely nothing to do with physical appearance.

What Not to Say

  • Resist any urges to talk about your diets.  ED is not a diet.
  • Never criticize or shame the individual.
  • Don’t be a food monitor or insist the problem is just a matter of eating.
  • Don’t make comments like, “You’re not fat.” or “You’re too thin.”  These comments redirect attention to body shape and weight, and these are not the true issues.
  • Never say, “I wish I had that problem.  I need to lose weight.”   Eating disorders are deadly and you wouldn’t want that problem any more than you would want cancer.