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How to Help a Loved One
Dos and Don'ts


• Learn about eating disorders

• Find an appropriate time and place to talk to the individual in private

• Communicate your concerns using "I" statements

• Stress the importance of professional, specialized help

• Be mindful of your words/actionsby getting the education and support you need to provide thoughtful guidance

• Express your continued support

• Validate your loved one's feeling, struggles, and accomplishments


• Don't be scared

• Don't engage in a power struggle and/or try to force the individual to eat or not eat

• Don't attempt to solve or "fix" his/her problems

• Don't comment on calorie/food intake, weight, appearance, etc.

• Don't expect to be perfect

• Don't promise to keep it a secret

If Your Loved One is in Recovery
1. Validation and Compassion are key! Validate their fears and struggles without judgment.
2. Be willing to adapt to changes in a recovery plan.
3. Have the ability to incorporate love and fun into the recovery process—recovery free time.
4. Focus on the person, not the eating disorder. They are not their eating disorder.
5. Remind your loved one that they are not alone—be inclusive not exclusive.
6. You don't need to fully understand the disease, but be there and be present—what your loved one is going through is real!
7. Understand that the eating disorder did not happen overnight, nor will recovery.
8. There is no "perfect" recovery—people recover to life, not utopia.
9. Don't tip-toe around your loved one—be real and honest but not pushy.
10. Slips and falls will happen—acknowledge them but don't catastrophize them. Every time they pick themselves up they will get stronger.
11. Triggering people, places, and things will emerge—be there for support.
12. Ask your loved one what they need from you—be their ally on their journey to recovery.
13. YOU are an asset to your loved one's recovery process. You are an expert when it comes to them; don't be afraid to utilize those intuitions.
14. Take care of yourself so you can truly take care of your loved one—breathe, and keep going.

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