Here are some tips if you are a friend trying to help another friend with an eating disorder. Eating disorders are a very sensitive subject, but there are ways you can try to approach the subject and offer your support.

If your friend is a classmate and you aren’t having any luck trying to get them to seek help, try recruiting others to talk to them. Enlist the aid of their parents, other family members, boyfriend/girlfriend, school counselor, etc. Your friend will probably get mad at you temporarily, but may later thank you for getting them help when they couldn’t get it for themselves.

As an “outsider” there are many things you can’t do to help a friend get better. You can’t force an anorexic to eat, or keep a bulimic from purging. In fact, concentrating on the food is not an effective means of help, since it doesn’t get to the root cause of the disorder.

It is up to the individual suffering from the disorder to decide they are ready to deal with the emotional issues in their life that have led to the problem. They need to make a choice for recovery, and they must want to make this choice for themselves.

If your friend is over the age of 18 then you cannot force them to seek help. You can support and encourage them, and gently express concern. The best thing you can do is really listen to them, because all forms of eating disorders are emotionally based. The eating behaviors are only symptoms of emotional and stress-related problems, and are an attempt to control, hide, or avoid emotional pain, stress, or self-hate.

In most cases it will be important for each victim to find a mode of recovery that will work for them. One-on-one therapy, support groups, clinics, in-patient or out-patient, art therapy, church groups, a combination of any, or none of the above but something completely different& there are many options out there. Help your friend gather information if they are open to your help. Be encouraging- there can be a lot of roadblocks in searching for eating disorder recovery, so be reassuring that recovery is possible. Be there to listen and communicate.