Eating Disorder Recovery is a tough road, and it impacts the entire family.
If you are supporting a loved one in their eating disorder recovery, you may be feeling confused, helpless, frustrated, and sad at times. Sometimes it can feel like a disconnect between you and your loved one. They may be struggling to communicate what they need, or respond in perceivably stand-offish or rude ways. Or they may just not know how they can be supported in their eating disorder recovery.
As an eating disorder recovery mindset starts to build, you will see your loved one be able to cope more effectively and they will be able to talk with you about how they are thinking and feeling. To help you get there, here are 5 tips to help open the line of communication.
Here Are 5 Ways in Which People Commonly Support Their Loved One in Eating Disorder Recovery
1. Ask your loved one what would be supportive in their eating disorder recovery.
It is okay to ask if we don’t know. In fact, it can feel very healing and kind to be asked. It is important that people in recovery feel heard and like they can advocate for themselves. Even if your loved ones says “I don’t know,” they are empowered to have a voice simply by you asking.
2. Take time to learn about eating disorders and the recovery process on your own.
ED recovery may be a new experience to you as well, and you may have questions. Take time to research what eating disorders are, how they develop, and what the recovery process is. You may want to learn about body image, movement, common behaviors, associated feelings, and your loved one’s specific diagnosis as well.
3. Do not comment on bodies.
Recovery aims to take the focus off of judgments and focus on neutrality, especially the neutrality of bodies. People in recovery can feel a lot of shame and embarrassment, and fear others are always judging them. It is important to refrain from comments about bodies, and treat them in a neutral way. This commonly comes up with compliments, and compliments about the substance of the person can be more meaningful.
4. Do not judge foods as bad or good.
Along the same lines of neutrality, it is important to specifically not judge food as bad, good, healthy, unhealthy, junk, etc. All foods fit is an approach in recovery to help clients decrease their shame around food and see food as the nutrition that it is.
5. Talk to them about other aspects of their identity, outside of their eating disorder recovery.
Your loved one is a whole person. Remember to really see them, all the parts of their identity. Talk to them about other things that are important to them. Clients are encouraged in recovery to put energy towards areas of their life they value, and this can be an easier way to support them in that goal.
With these 5 tips on support, hopefully you and your loved one in recovery will be communicating easier with less fear. Support people also need support people! If you are a support person of someone in eating disorder recovery, ensure you have your own time and space to process. Your experience is important too.
Feel free to reach out for family, couple, or individual support for you or your loved one.