Things that do not help
- Do not let issues of food dominate your relationship with the person and try to avoid conflict or arguments over food.
- Try not to give advice about weight loss or exercise.
- Try not to reinforce the idea that physical appearance is vital for happiness and success.
- Try to avoid comments about the person’s weight or appearance.
What if the person doesn’t want help?
Generally, an adult has the right to refuse treatment. But they can be treated without their consent if their life is in danger or if they lack the capacity to consent.
If the situation is not an emergency, continue with your support, and be open, approachable and nonjudgmental. It is OK to tell the person that you are concerned and that you care for them.
If the person won’t agree to go to their appointment:
- Let them talk about what is worrying them.
- Give them emotional support and encouragement.
- Talk about what kind of practical help the person needs to be able to go to their appointments.
- Contact the health-care team for advice.
Looking after yourself
Having a loved one with an eating disorder does not mean that you are a ‘bad’ parent, partner, brother, sister, child or friend. There is no evidence to suggest that any family dysfunction is the cause of eating disorders.
You will probably feel some pain, suffering, sadness, guilt or despair of your own. Being the main support person can be hard work and it may sometimes feel that you are getting nowhere.
Never blame yourself.
You are not alone. It can be very hard to understand a person’s eating disorder.
More about caring for someone with a mental illness