“Everybody Knows Somebody”: Helping a friend with an eating disorder


Contributed by Nancy Reynolds

We’re in the midst of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (NEDAW), and the theme this year is  “Everybody knows Somebody.” Most of us probably know at least one person who is struggling with eating attitudes and behavior or who has actually been diagnosed with an eating disorder. 

If you know someone who is preoccupied with food, dieting, weight, and body image, and who seems depressed or irritable and may be having difficulties with class work and friendships, then he or she may have an eating disorder. 

How can you help? 

·        Set aside a private time to talk to your friend.

·        Share your concerns in a caring, honest, and nonjudgmental manner, but be firm. State what behaviors you have observed, and use “I” statements.

·        Listen closely and respectfully to your friend’s responses.

·        Avoid placing shame, blame, or guilt on your friend, and avoid conflicts and simple solutions.

·        Suggest that your friend explore these concerns with a counselor, doctor, or nutritionist. Offer to help make an appointment or accompany your friend on the first visit.

·        Be a good role model for healthy eating, exercise, and self-acceptance.

·        Express your continued support and friendship, and state that you care and want your friend to be healthy and happy. You cannot control your friend’s decisions, but you can be a supportive friend and lead them toward help. 

Recognize NEDAW this week by extending a helping hand to someone in need. Everybody knows somebody. Everybody can get involved. 

On Friday, learn about the resources on campus for getting help in the last of our 3-part series.