5 Ways to Support a Loved One Struggling With Compulsive Overeating

Willow Place on March 12, 2020
5 Ways to Support a Loved One Struggling With Compulsive Overeating

It’s not uncommon for individuals who love people struggling with eating disorders like binge eating disorder, otherwise known as compulsive overeating, to want to help. In fact, one of the most commonly asked questions treatment centers get about their family members in treatment is “how can we help”? Fortunately, there are a few things family members and loved ones can do to support their loved one’s treatment and recovery.

Being Careful how you “Help” Someone Struggling With Compulsive Overeating

Again, compulsive overeating is another way to describe binge eating disorder. Individuals living with this condition often experience a variation of negative feelings; shame, guilt, depression, and sadness. So, support for these people is crucial during recovery.

However, it’s important to not offer support in the wrong ways. Often, in attempts to help someone living with binge eating disorder, loved ones will suggest solutions that aren’t really solutions at all. And, can actually cause more damage than harm. For example, attempting to “help” a loved one by telling them about a new diet. Or, suggesting they work on their self-control.

Dieting is actually a really bad idea for those dealing with any eating disorders. It can make the issue even worse, leading to compromised health and strengthening the eating disorder. And, suggesting that a person dealing with an eating disorder work on self-control is also the opposite of helpful. This is because eating disorders have nothing to do with self-control and everything to do with mental health. So, not only is it not helpful to suggest someone living with an eating disorder doesn’t have self-control, but it’s actually extremely rude.

So, What Can You Do?

Compulsive overeating, or binge eating disorder, is actually the most commonly diagnosed eating disorder. So, there has been a lot of research on this topic the past few years aiming to help individuals living with this issue. And, it has been found that treatment to help individuals develop behavioral skills and other tools can help them develop healthy lifestyles. So, as a loved one, you’ll want to encourage establishing these skills in a number of ways.

1. Educate Yourself on Compulsive Eating

One of the first things you should do if you are wanting to help a loved one with binge eating disorder is to learn as much as you can. The more you learn, the more you’ll understand what you can do that’s helpful and what you can do that’s not. And, better understand how the neurological components of this disorder are key to finding an effective treatment.

2. Stay Away from Specific Language with Insinuates Shame

Some people think that telling people they need to change their lifestyle is helpful. But, to a person with an eating disorder, this can actually be very damaging. So, stay away from saying comments like:

  • “You have gained weight since the last time I saw you.”
  • “Have you heard of this new diet?”
  • “You used to look so healthy!”

Instead of these comments which insinuate negativity and can stimulate negative thoughts, try using positive, supportive comments. So, instead of saying anything about your loved one’s weight or appearance, talk about other attributes. For instance, her personality, kindness, generosity, and compassion.

3. Don’t Give her Ultimatums

Giving a loved one an ultimatum may seem like a good choice, but it is not the best idea. Threatening your loved one by taking something away from them if they don’t change can encourage avoidance behaviors. And, deter them from asking you for any help they may need. Thus, persuading them to never get the help they need.

4. Consider Getting Family or Group Therapy

It can be helpful for families who have a loved one struggling with binge eating disorder to seek family therapy. This can help each family member to learn how to best support their loved one in recovery. And, allow families to understand how to better work together to support their loved one living with binge eating disorder.

5. Understand You Can’t Cure Your Loved One

When you love someone, it’s hard to accept that you can’t solve their problems. But, this is especially true when it comes to mental health conditions like eating disorders. There is no cure for eating disorders. But, when people attempt to push their ideals on people with mental health issues in attempts to cure their problems, things can turn south. And, this can end up in your loved one turning away from you as an avoidance behavior. So, it’s best to accept that your loved one’s problem is not your own. And, that all you can do is support them in getting the professional help they need.

Help for Your Loved One Struggling with Compulsive Overeating

Have you spoken to your loved one struggling with compulsive overeating about getting help? If so, there is help available to you and your family at Willow Place for Women. Here, we provide the therapy and education families need to learn coping skills and healthy thought patterns. This way, individuals and their families can work together to overcome eating disorders.

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To learn more about our eating disorder treatment program and how we can help, contact us on our website. Or, give us a call for a confidential conversation at 1-888-651-4212.

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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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