If you suspect someone you know has an eating disorder, you may feel:
How you can help
- Encourage your friend or relative to get help at school, work, or in the community (e.g. contact a youth worker, a resource teacher or counselor, any health professional, counseling services)
- Be available when the person needs to talk – maintain communication channels
- Be supportive – let the person know you care about them
- Educate yourself – get information about eating disorders from a health professional, a library, or bookstore
- Discuss your concerns with a professional – seek help for yourself (e.g. an eating disorders group, or a professional experienced in helping friends and family cope)
- Check our Directory of Services for a list of local resources
- Comment on weight or appearance
- Blame yourself or someone else
A study on anorexia and bulimia was conducted in 1995. More than 60 parents from across Ontario shared the challenges and problems faced when they discovered their child had an eating disorder. The following is their advice to others who are just beginning their involvement with eating disorders:
- If you suspect your child has an eating disorder, act quickly. Someone with an eating disorder needs professional help. It is vital to recognize and treat the symptoms early.
- Find outside help for your child as well as for your family. Friends and relatives may not understand what you are going through. Support groups or professional counselling will help you to cope with and learn about eating disorders.
- Sometimes family doctors may not be sure what to do. Seek out alternatives if you are not satisfied. Be persistent. Do not give up.
- Find treatment that considers the needs of your child – help that is appropriate to the individual.
- Try to maintain a normal routine. Do not let the eating disorder control your life.
- Realize that this is not going to go away overnight. An eating disorder is a disease. It requires unconditional love, patience, support, time and treatment.
- Never lose hope.