National Eating Disorders Awareness Week might have just ended, but that doesn’t mean you should stop spreading awareness about eating disorders and learning more information about these prevalent mental health issues.
There are warning signs you can look for in family and friends. Experts also have information on how to approach loved ones who could be struggling with an eating disorder.
Susan Kleinman, a dance and movement therapist at the Renfrew Center of Florida, said in an email that there are a plethora of eating disorder warning signs.
Here are a few to watch out for:
1) “A preoccupation with weight, food, food labels and dieting.”
2) “Excessive drinking of fluids or denial of hunger.”
3) “Avoidance of meal times and situations involving food.”
4) “Withdrawal from friends and activities.”
5) “Self-induced vomiting or abuse of laxatives, diuretics or diet pills.”
6) “Excessive, rigid exercise regimen.”
7) “A change in dress, such as over-sized clothing to cover the body or revealing clothes to flaunt weight loss.”
8) “Feeling ‘not good enough’ much of the time, or the need to be perfect.”
Here are the best ways you can approach loved ones, according to Kleinman:
1) “Listen to your friend/family member with understanding, respect and sensitivity.”
2) “Tell the person that you are concerned, that you care and would like to help.”
3) “Talk about things other than food, weight, counting calories and exercise. Attempt to discuss feelings instead.”
4) “Stay calm. These things take time. If frustrated, take a break and plan to resume the discussion at a later time.”
There are also incorrect ways to approach loved ones:
1) “Don’t blame them for doing something wrong or tell them they are acting silly.”
2) “Don’t make comments about a person’s appearance. Concern about weight loss may be interpreted as a compliment and comments about weight gain may be seen as criticism.”
3) “Don’t be afraid to upset them; talk to them.”
4) “Don’t try to solve the problem for them. They need a qualified professional.”