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So if you’ve read my Gym blog #1 and Gym blog #2 you can see by now that I’m very serious about eating disorders. I had anorexia nervosa for 10 years and have now been recovered for 10 years. I have never felt stronger. I have been doing public health work in this area for the community for the past 12 years. I also work for Kaiser Permanente as a Regional Health Coordinator, working in areas such as women’s health, perinatal health, domestic violence, and multiculturalism. Right now I am studying to get my Ph.D. in clinical psychology so that I can continue my work in the eating disorders field.

 

This issue was a big one here on our new blog, so I thought I’d give some tips. Here’s how to help a friend or loved one whom you suspect may have an eating disorder:

 

* Learn as much as you can about eating disorders. Read books, articles, and brochures. Gurze Books is a great publisher of books on eating disorders. “Life Without Ed” by Jenni Schaefer is a great book.

* Know the differences between facts and myths about weight, nutrition, and exercise. Knowing the facts will help you reason against any inaccurate ideas that your friend may be using as excuses to maintain her or his disordered eating patterns. The resources below can help you with this.

* Be honest. Talk openly and honestly about your concerns with the person who is struggling with eating or body image problems. Avoiding it or ignoring it won’t help!

* Be caring, but be firm. Caring about your friend does not mean being manipulated by her (or him). Your friend must be responsible for her or his actions and the consequences of those actions.

* Avoid making rules, promises, or expectations that you cannot or will not uphold. For example, “I promise not to tell anyone.” Or, “If you do this one more time, I’ll never talk to you again.”

* Compliment your friend’s wonderful personality, successes, or accomplishments. Remind your friend that “true beauty” is not simply skin deep.

* Be a good role model with regard to sensible eating, exercise, and self-acceptance.

* Tell someone. It may seem difficult to know when, if at all, to tell someone else about your concerns. Addressing body-image or eating problems in their beginning stages offers your friend the best chance for working through these issues and becoming healthy again. Don’t wait until the situation is so severe that your friend’s life is in danger. Your friend needs as much support and understanding as possible.

 

 

 

To learn more about eating disorders, go to http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org and http://www.something-fishy.org. Ask questions. Post a comment below, and if I can help, or know someone who can, I will be sure to respond!

 

— M.R.