When a family member suffers from an eating disorder, everyone else in the home is probably suffering too. For one, seeing your loved one go through a painful experience can make you feel helpless, because you may not know how to come to their aid. By educating yourself, you can provide the support your family member needs when recovering from an eating disorder.

Educate Yourself

Learning about eating disorders makes it easier to understand how your loved one feels and how to help them cope. This can be helpful in having compassion for them. You can educate yourself by reading books or legitimate online resources. Understand what your family member’s possible triggers around food may be. Know that any comment about their body, even if it’s positive, can lead to a relapse. Always be careful about the things you say to your loved one. Besides this, you can ask a mental health professional for guidance. Before the situation becomes dangerous, you may want to consider eating disorder treatment.

Be Positive About Food

Since talking about eating, food, or weight in a negative manner can be a trigger for someone with an eating disorder, make every effort to remain positive. Although you might feel hesitant about eating in front of your family member, this can actually be good for them. For instance, you’ll be showing that eating healthy meals is normal. Avoid talking about your own body or health around your family member. This may take some getting used to, but it will be crucial in your loved one’s recovery. 

Genuinely Listen to Them

Instead of judging your loved one, try genuinely listening to everything they say. If they don’t talk about their problems, ask them about their feelings and concerns. Avoid giving out criticism or advice so they feel heard. While you may not understand their problems, just knowing someone cares can be life changing for those who need it. You will also want to take note of their behaviors around food. If you see any red flags, it might be time to get them more help. 

Take Care of Yourself

While you might feel the need to care for your family member all of the time, you need to realize it’s okay to take care of yourself each day. In fact, doing the things you enjoy on a regular basis can help you take better care of him or her. Additionally, having the support of a friend, family member, therapist of your own, or support group can encourage you to talk about your feelings. Taking care of your own needs makes it easier to give support to your loved one.

Possibly the most important thing you can do to help your family member during recovery is to care selflessly about them. If this is difficult for you, you may need to learn how to love yourself first. You can do this by researching self-care tips and learning the value of self-love. Learning to love yourself makes it easier to care genuinely about someone else.