Do you have a loved one who is getting help or has gotten help for an eating disorder? It can be challenging what to say or do for a loved one who is living with an eating disorder. Specifically, if that loved one has reached out for help and gotten assistance through treatment. Certainly, you want to be there for your loved one and offer her the best support you can. So, what should loved ones do to help support someone who has just completed a treatment plan at an eating disorder treatment program?
As a loved one of a person who has an eating disorder, you may have the urge to protect your loved one at all times. This may include hovering over them, helping them pick out what to eat, and making sure that they’re getting all of their calories in. But, people who have gotten help for an eating disorder don’t need someone to tell them what to do at all times. During treatment, your loved one has been coached to implement a healthy diet and has begun to understand the healthy mindsets and behaviors they need to adopt to keep them from relapse. What they don’t need is a policing force to enforce these behaviors. Instead of trying to supervise their every move, rather, be a person of support for your loved one. And, attempt to trust them with their own recovery. Remember – you want to make things easier for your loved one in recovery, not harder.
It can be tempting to want to provide your loved one with advice. But, they may not need to hear that from you. What your loved one in eating disorder recovery requires from you is compassion, support, and acceptance – nothing else. This means accepting that their experience is their own without putting any emphasis on your own experiences.
As mentioned, the best thing you can do for a loved one recovering from an eating disorder is to provide support. One way to assure them that you’re there to support them is to reassure them that you’ll always be there for them – even when things don’t go right. Regardless of whether or not your loved one slips and regresses with recovery progress if they gain or lose weight, etc. your loved one needs to know that you’ll always be supportive and love them no matter what.
It can be challenging to think about anything other than your loved one’s eating disorder when they’re around. But, if you’re constantly focused on this topic, your loved one may start to think that’s all you associate them with. Rather, you want your loved one to know that they are more to you than their mental health challenges. So, refrain from talking about your diet, invalidating your experience with an eating disorder, or doing other things that may lead your loved one to think that’s all they are to you – a person with an eating disorder. Instead, remind them of what you love about them that has nothing to do with their eating disorder. And, do things with them that don’t have anything to do with eating or exercising. This way, they can understand that you see them for the individual they are.
Need help navigating the eating disorder of a loved one? Or, are you struggling with disordered eating behaviors yourself? Help is available for you with outpatient treatment services offered by Raul J Rodriguez MD, DABPN, DABAM, MRO in Delray Beach, Florida. Find out more about our eating disorder program on our website.