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Five Ways to Help a Loved One with Binge Eating Disorder

1. You're concerned about a friend or family member because you see them obsessively thinking and behaving around food. It doesn’t seem right but you're afraid of saying the wrong thing. You don’t know what to say, how to say it or indeed to say anything at all! These are some ways to help you get the process started and what to watch out for as you put together your support team.
  • Educate yourself first. If you’re not sure how to actually start a conversation- educate yourself. Eating Disorder Websites are a wealth of information for people trying to support their loved ones struggling with Binge eating and other Eating Disorders. These will provide you with a list of warning signs so when you do have that conversation you are speaking based on facts.
  • Be a non-judgemental listener.
2. People with Binge Eating behaviors struggle with guilt, shame and a lot of negative self-talk and negative body talk. It’s extremely important to listen to them express their thoughts and feelings - it may be the first time they are doing so. They need to know they are not going to be judged or criticized but spoken to in a loving, caring way. Don’t be quick to give advice but rather reflect back what they are saying. This really helps them feel they are being heard.
  • Express your fears and concerns using “I” statements.
3. It’s understandable that you want to get help as soon as possible but remember you are not a “fixer”. Your loved one may not be ready. In fact, they may minimize their behaviors to avoid facing that guilt and shame.“I” statements help you to express feelings so they see how concerned you are about their behavior. Recall times in the past where you have turned to each other for help and have successfully worked through struggles together. If you were able to support each other back then, then you will be able to support them now as they enter treatment.
  • Set and communicate boundaries to protect your own health.
4. Supporting someone in Binge Eating recovery can be mentally, emotionally and physically draining. Take care of yourself so that you can effectively care for your loved one. Attend support groups for family and friends of people in Binge-eating recovery. Trained professionals can develop a treatment plan using therapy, nutrition, and medications. Use their help as a way of continuing to educate yourself so that you can be the best support for your loved one.
  • Help find qualified Eating Disorder Professionals
5. This needs to consist of professionals who are knowledgeable about Eating Disorders and specifically Binge Eating. Looking for a CEDS/CEDRD credential is a good start. If the binge eating is out of control, consider an evaluation by a treatment facility for a  Residential Program, Partial Hospitalization Program or an Intensive Outpatient Program. These “wrap around” services will really help you as a friend or family member and your loved one get that jump start.