Eating Disorders: Something Worth Talking About
Too many people suffering with Eating Disorders slip under the radar. They hide the eating disorder’s behaviour from their friends and family meaning that they can slip further into their illness and often feel like no one cares enough to take any notice. It’s been said numerous times that one of the worst things about having an Eating Disorder is the feeling of isolation.
If you are worried about someone - talk about it!
Meal times can be particularly difficult. We don’t recommend that friends help with meals; this is an incredibly hard task and one that would be likely to put a lot of stress on any friendship. We know though that a lot of housemates find it difficult to live with someone with an eating disorder and so we’ve put together some thoughts on how to deal with meal times.
Have a conversation.
Find time away from meal times to talk to your housemate and ask if there is anything you can do to make meal times easier.
Some people find that it helps to cook and eat together.
This may be a case of all eating the same meal, though we’d suggest that housemates lay down some ground rules – you don’t want to be in a position where you are changing what you would normally eat. It may be helpful to go partway and simply cook similar meals.
Keep calm and carry on!
If the meal time is stressful for you, it is also stressful for your friend. If you can, it is helpful for you to do your best to stay calm during the mealtime. If issues arise that you think need to be discussed, try to put the conversation off until the meal is finished.
Keep a conversation flowing.
People like to be distracted from thinking about what they are eating. You can be a great help by simply chatting away about anything else going on in life! It may be helpful to take distractions one step further and listen to radio, watch TV or play board games during meals.
It is rude to stare.
Where possible avoid paying too much attention to what your friend is eating. No one likes to be watched and we certainly don’t like to be judged. Change will happen over time – it is not effective to argue or raise issue with everything your housemate eats or does not eat.
Spend time together after meals.
This can reduce the anxiety your housemate is likely to be feeling.
Don’t overly congratulate your friend for eating.
Even when actively trying to work through recovery, people can find it hard to accept that they are “giving in.” I use the words “giving in,” because that is how it can feel – eating can feel like giving up, admitting defeat and this can bring on strong feelings of guilt and weakness. There is likely going to be an ongoing argument in your housemate’s mind about whether eating is a good thing or a bad thing – adding value statements such as praise or criticism really only adds fuel to this fire.
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Registered Charity: 1142783
Registered Charity: 1142783