Reaching Out: How to Help a Family Member with a Binge Eating Disorder
Updated: Feb 22, 2022
Disclaimer: This website contains general information relating to various medical conditions. Such information is provided for informational purposes only, and it not meant to be a substitute for advice provided by a doctor or health care professional. Readers should not use the information provided herein for diagnosing a problem or disease. Readers should always consult with a doctor or other healthcare professional for medical advice or information about diagnosis and treatment.
When many people think of eating disorders, they think of restrictive disorders. Compulsive overeating and binge eating disorders tend to get left behind, and people struggling with those conditions may not get the support that they need.
If you have a friend or family member who you suspect has a binge eating disorder (or BED), you might not even know where to start. How can you support someone who's struggling with a serious eating disorder without coming off as patronizing or judgmental?
I'm here to help you prepare yourself. Read on to learn all about helping your loved one as they start their journey toward wellness.
One of the first things that you should do when you're trying to offer support to someone who's struggling with their binge eating disorder (or any eating disorder, really), is to educate yourself on the topic.
Binge eating disorder (BED) isn't as widely understood as other eating disorders. Many people don't think that it's as "serious," but this is a serious misconception. Binge eating disorder can still be both disruptive and dangerous, as well as emotionally taxing.
Do your best to learn about the disorder so you can be more supportive and avoid any misunderstandings.
Avoid Diet and Weight Loss Talk
Whenever a loved one has an eating disorder, it's crucial to make sure that you're avoiding any conversations or phrases that may relate to weight loss and dietary choices. These things can be triggering and hurtful, even if that wasn't your intention.
It's common to make jokes with friends about how much they're eating or what they're eating, and for most people, this isn't an issue. For people with eating disorders, however, it's telling them that you don't really understand their struggle.
Even if you think that you're saying something positive, like, "You've lost weight!", you can trigger your loved one. Instead, try to focus your conversations around non-appearance-related topics.
Validate Their Feelings
Remember that even if your loved one's feelings and behaviors seem irrational, they're coming from a genuine place. When you offer validation, you're telling them that their concerns are okay and that they can feel safe talking about those concerns with you.
Validating someone's feelings doesn't mean that you're enabling them or even that you agree with them. It just means that you're willing to have an open conversation without judgment or trying to tell them that they're "wrong."
Don't Try to "Fix" Them
Your loved one with a binge eating disorder doesn't need to be "fixed." They're not broken. They need support and understanding from you.
Remember that you're not a doctor, a therapist, or a coach. You're a friend or family member who wants to provide a shoulder to lean on. While you may have advice, you probably don't have the experience necessary to truly help your friend.
You can recommend that your loved one starts seeking help, but never be too forceful or you may lose their trust.
Does Your Loved One Have a Binge Eating Disorder?
Trying to help a loved one manage their binge eating disorder is challenging. By using these tips, you'll be able to support them while they start their recovery and wellness journey.
Are you looking for an experienced life coach who can help yourself or a loved one reach their full potential? Let's talk! Book a free discovery call today so we can start working together.