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HOW TO TALK TO YOUR FRIENDS ABOUT EATING DISORDERS

How to be the most supportive friend you can be:

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week is upon us, and sadly, some of our vinas may suffer from an eating disorder or have suffered in the past. If you suspect your vina has developed an unhealthy relationship with food, knowing how to talk to them about it can be really hard. Luckily, we compiled some conversation tips to help you become the most supportive friend you can be!

DON’T ACCUSE, SUPPORT

When you’re worried about a vina’s health, sometimes the go to reaction is trying to make them see that they have a problem. Although you may be badgering them out of love and fear, they will more often than not see it as an attack and either shut down or turn nasty. Creating a safe space within your relationship is vital. Starting with something like, “Let me know if you ever want to talk,” is a great way to let them know that you will be there for them when they need you.

OBSERVE, DON’T STATE

“It seems like you’re feeling anxious right now,” or, “I’m noticing you haven’t been nourishing yourself recently, do you want to talk about it?” is a better approach than “You’re obviously anxious about eating that,” or “Why didn’t you eat lunch?” Avoid accusatory language that could make your friend defensive or scared.

NEVER TALK TO THEM ABOUT FOOD OR EXERCISE WHILE THEY ARE EATING

Their eating disorder is the most active when food is around. Take the conversationa way from food or exercise to avoid triggering your vina.

RESEARCH TREATMENT OPTIONS

One of the hardest things about having a friend who is suffering from an eating disorder is making the decision whether or not to intervene. First, offer unconditional support and a space to talk. Later, if you feel your friend is really in need of professional help, research treatment facilities that are convenient and preferably work with their insurance. Print out lists and leave pamphlets on their bed or desk. This may seem passive, but it works better than verbal confrontation. A lot of the time the eating disorder flares up when confronted or threatened, but usually there is a deep authentic desire to get better, and you may catch your friend at a time when they are aware of their suffering.
The most important thing to keep in mind about breaching the subject of an eating disorder with your friend is to be an ally to their healthy selves. Don’t attack the eating disorder, rather, be a resource for the part of them that wants to be healthy. They are suffering, and all they really need is a vina to listen. 
Learn more about NEDA here.

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