Dr. Pamela Mark
Licensed Psychologist .407-697-7173.
If you are worried about your friend’s eating behaviors or attitudes,
it is important to express your concerns in a loving and supportive
way. It is also necessary to discuss your worries early on, rather
than waiting until your friend has endured many of the damaging
physical and emotional effects of eating disorders. In a private and
relaxed setting, talk to your friend in a calm and caring way about
the specific things you have seen or felt that have caused you to
Set a time to talk. Set aside a time for a private, respectful meeting
with your friend to discuss your concerns openly and honestly in a
caring, supportive way. Make sure you will be some place away
from other distractions.
Communicate your concerns. Share your memories of specific times
when you felt concerned about your friend’s eating or exercise
behaviors. Explain that you think these things may indicate that
there could be a problem that needs professional attention.
Ask your friend to explore these concerns with a counselor, doctor,
nutritionist, or other health professional who is knowledgeable
about eating issues. If you feel comfortable doing so, offer to help
your friend make an appointment or accompany your friend on
their first visit.
Avoid conflicts or a battle of the wills with your friend. If your
friend refuses to acknowledge that there is a problem, or any reason
for you to be concerned, restate your feelings and the reasons for
them and leave yourself open and available as a supportive listener.
Avoid placing shame, blame, or guilt on your friend regarding their
actions or attitudes. Do not use accusatory “you” statements like,
“You just need to eat.” Or, “You are acting irresponsibly.” Instead,
use “I” statements. For example: “I’m concerned about you because
you refuse to eat breakfast or lunch.” Or, “It makes me afraid to hear
Avoid giving simple solutions. For example, "If you'd just stop,
then everything would be fine!" Express your continued support.
Remind your friend that you care and want your friend to be
healthy and happy.
After talking with your friend, if you are still concerned with their
health and safety, find a trusted adult or medical professional to
talk to . This is probably a challenging time for both of you. It could
be helpful for you, as well as your friend, to discuss your concerns
and seek assistance and support from a professional.
|What Should I Say?
Tips for Talking to a Friend Who May Be Struggling with
an Eating Disorder
by the National Eating