Do’s and Don’ts when dealing with someone affected by an Eating Disorder





Look around for the help you need.Don’t panic
2Do inform yourself about eating disorders and what treatments exist.Don’t isolate yourself from those who can help, or whom you may be able to help.
3Do attend support groups. They are there for youDon’t assume the person knows what they need or how you can help.
4Do encourage the person with the eating disorder to get a professional assessment, from a practitioner experienced in eating disorders.Don’t play therapist.
5Do express honest love, by physical and verbal expression.Don’t make your love a condition of the individual’s appearance, health, weight, achievement, or any other attribute.
6Do value that the person with the eating disorder is ambivalent about getting well, and takes comfort in the control and rituals of the disorder.Don’t comment – positively or negatively – on appearance or weight.
7Do examine your own feelings and thoughts about eating disorders, and your own body image or fear of fat issues.Don’t let these peculiarities dominate the household.
8Do encourage decision-making and being responsible for those decisions.Don’t be manipulated – require the person with the eating disorder to be responsible for his or her behaviour.
9Do allow the person with the eating disorder to be in charge of his or her routines of daily life.Don’t force or encourage the person to eat or drink properly.
10Do realise that by giving up control, you are setting the stage for the person to develop healthy self-control.Don’t try to control the person’s behaviour – this can intensify the problem.
11Do seek life-saving treatment for anyone who is in jeopardy of endangering themselves or others.Don’t impose rules except those which are necessary for the individual’s or the family’s safety and wellbeing, and avoid power struggles
12Do accept yourself.Don’t monitor someone else’s behaviour for them (even if you are invited to).
13Do accept the person with the eating disorder.Don’t use money to control another person’s eating behaviour.
14Do make time for yourself, your partner, friends, etc. – remember to provide for yourself with rest, freedom from worry, and fun.Don’t anticipate someone else’s needs.
15Do get help for yourself. An eating disorder disrupts the family too, and the family needs help coping with it.Don’t purchase (or avoid purchasing) food solely to accommodate the person with the eating disorder.
16Do remember to do fun things with the person with the eating disorder.Don’t feel guilty or dwell on causes.
17 Don’t expect yourself to be a perfect parent/partner/friend etc.
18 Don’t expect the person with the eating disorder to be perfect.
19 Don’t take charge – accept the other person’s right to an independent life.
20 Don’t expect that the amount of time you worry will help somehow. See to proper treatment, then relax yourself. Do realise there is no quick and easy solution.

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