If you are a concerned family member, care-giver or a friend, it can be very difficult to reach out or know how to help someone you think might have an eating disorder. With that in mind, I've decided to post up a series of hints and tips, in line with recommendations by the National Centre for Eating Disorders on things that might be helpful.
Recognise the warning signs
Please be aware that no individual 'warning sign' means that someone does or doesn't have an eating disorder. If you feel that any of the questions below might be adversely influencing an individual's well-being, then it could be time to speak with them.
Do they refuse to eat certain types of food/food groups?
Have they recently lost a lot of weight?
Do they eat much less than they used to?
Do they refuse to eat with others?
Do they insist on cooking their own food?
Have they had a history of complaining that they feel fat?
Have they become obsessive about exercise?
If you've discussed eating habits or their relationship with food, do they deny they have a problem?
Are they always on a diet but failing to lose weight?
Do they tend to disappear to the bathroom after meals, run bathwater or play the radio loudly (in the bathroom)?
Do they have particularly noticeable mood swings?
Again, many of the signs above might be part an parcel of a completely normal individual. But if you are concerned,
1) Make a plan to speak with them
2) Let them know your concerns in a non-confrontational, non-judgemental and calm manner
3) Let then know you care
4) Leave the door open for them to re-engage at a later point