Eating Disorder Support: What Families Can Do to Help

Becki Meerbeek on September 5, 2017
Eating Disorder Support: What Families Can Do to Help

It can be challenging to face the fact that a loved one may be struggling with an eating disorder. And, it can be even more challenging to know what you should do about it. Fortunately, there is eating disorder support and resources for individuals and families who are affected by eating disorders.

Know More to Provide Eating Disorder Support

One of the best things that loved ones can do for an individual who may be struggling with an eating disorder is to gain knowledge. With knowledge, you’ll know more about the specifics of your loved one’s disorder so that you can offer the help which will best suit her needs.

Over all, you must understand that eating disorders are a psychological issue in which an individual will experience irregular changes in eating behaviors. These changes are due to a warped perception of the body, food intake, and/or weight. Over or under-eating is a way to feel in control of these warped perceptions. Eventually, behaviors in eating become more about escaping reality, pain, and harmful perceptions than nourishing the body. This, in turn, affects other areas of life and results in a number of physical and emotional consequences.

Learning More about Specific Eating Disorder Types

Anorexia Nervosa: When you think of eating disorders, the chances are that you are thinking of anorexia nervosa. This disorder involves a fear of being overweight, warped perception of weight (describing herself as fat when underweight), and being as little as 15% below suggested weight. Those struggling with anorexia develop behaviors meant to control caloric intake by not eating, purging after eating, using diet pills, and over-exercising. This disorder mainly affects the younger population who reside or work in societies where thinness is thought to be a measure of beauty.

Bulimia: Two specific behaviors characterize the eating disorder bulimia. The first, binging, involves a session in which an individual will eat as a method to soothe painful emotions. This is otherwise known as binge eating. The second behavior is purging. Purging involves voluntary removal of the previously binged food from the body by vomiting. Individuals diagnosed with bulimia will often starve themselves before a binge session, over exercise, and utilize laxatives as a way to release food before the body has a chance to process it.

Binge Eating Disorder: This disorder is characterized by a driving urge to eat mass amounts of food in a single sitting. Individuals struggling with binge eating disorder often feel shame, guilt, and regret for binging but still feel uncontrollable urges to consume large amounts of food. Although binge eating disorder may not be the first eating disorder that comes to mind, it’s the most common. Characteristics of this disorder may include eating alone, fast eating, eating when full, eating when not hungry, eating to ease painful emotions, and a lack of self-control when eating.

Common Misconceptions about Eating Disorders

Like many other psychological issues, there are a few misconceptions about eating disorders. The more you know about the true facts that surround eating disorders, the more likely you are not to stigmatize your loved one who is affected. And, you’ll be more prepared to offer support and resources which point to help. Some commonly stated eating disorder myths may include:

Individuals struggling with eating disorders do so because they want to be thin: It’s commonly thought that individuals who develop eating disorders are obsessed with being thin. But, the real reason for developed behaviors and obsessing with body image stems from dealing with painful emotions rather than a need to be better than everyone else.

All people with eating disorders are too thin: Although being thin may be a characterizing factor of specific eating disorders like anorexia, not all individuals struggling with eating disorders are thin. In fact, about 40% of overweight Americans concurrently struggle with binge eating disorder. There is no set body type for any eating disorder. People of all ages, genders, sizes, and shapes are affected by eating disorders.

Eating disorders aren’t that big of a deal: It’s not uncommon for people to think that eating disorders are just a way to gain attention or another way to describe frequently crash dieting. But, it’s so much more than that. Eating disorders can be threatening to physical and emotional health. And, in severe cases, have caused death. They are nothing to shake your head at.

Eating Disorder Support

If you feel that you or a loved one may be suffering, eating disorder support is available to you. Give us a call at Willow Place for Women to speak confidentially with an eating disorder specialist about your options for treatment at 1-888-651-4212.


Request a Call Back

If you or someone you love is battling substance use, mental health, or eating disorders, please feel free to contact one of our trained admission specialists today. All calls are free and completely confidential. While we know that suffering from a severe and life-threatening substance use disorder or a mental health issue can, at times, seem insurmountable, we sincerely believe that every woman is capable and deserving of the opportunity to recover. Reaching out is the first step – give us a call today and we will gladly walk you through the process of beginning your beautiful, fulfilling journey of recovery.

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