Helping a Friend or Family Member
You can help a friend or family member who is struggling with eating issues and eating disorders. Remember, you are not trying to cure them, but rather make them aware of your concerns and resources.
How to Help
- Speak with the individual privately and express your genuine concern.
- Confront behaviors, not values. Calmly tell the person the specific behavior that you have observed, for example, “I have noticed that you have been leaving the table abruptly after every meal.”
- Allow your friend or family member time to respond.
- Learn about the resources on-campus and in the community.
- Talk with someone if you are not sure how to handle the situation or if you think it is an emergency.
- Let your friend or family know that you are available for support.
- Understand that the person might not be ready to talk. Letting them know you are there to help.
What Doesn’t Work
- Confronting the person with or in front of a group of people.
- Threatening or challenging the person.
- Being judgmental. Don’t tell your friend or family member that they are “sick,” “crazy,” or “stupid.”
- Giving advice about weight loss or appearance.
- Trying to force the person to eat or track what they do eat.
- Getting into a battle of wills. Calmly state your concerns, your evidence, and your belief that the person needs to obtain help. End the conversation if either one of you becomes upset.
- Promising to keep your concerns or what you have noticed confidential.
- Letting the person monopolize your time and energy.