Guidelines for Talking About Your Eating Disorder

Most of the time, we read about how people can approach someone they are worried may have an eating disorder. We tend to ignore how to help those who have an eating disorder talk about it, sharing challenges they may be experiencing.

Yet, this can be a common struggle. Reaching out for help can be scary, confusing and overwhelming, as people are afraid of being misunderstood or judged, or often don’t know where to start.

How to best explain what is going on? What is the best way to let people know how they can help?

Here are some helpful tips to begin the conversation and reaching out for help”

  • Approach the topic when you are comfortable. It is important to talk about your eating disorder when you are ready, with people you are comfortable with and want to talk to.
  • Be honest about your experience; let people know what types of things are helpful or potentially harmful for you.
  • Be clear about what does not help. For example, requesting people do not talk about their diet in front of you, or discuss information about food such as nutritional content or labeling food as good or bad can be important boundaries.
  • Learning to be honest and assertive about your needs is an important skill that will assist you throughout your recovery and beyond. Self-advocacy is a key component in the recovery process!
  • Understand eating disorders can be hard to understand. A part of recovery can. Include educating people about eating disorders, as many myths and misconceptions about eating disorders remain. Don’t be afraid to take time to educate them, or direct them to books, web sites or articles that may help them.
  • Talking about your eating disorder is something that is in your control. You can talk about it when and with who you would like.
  • Set personal guidelines. Being clear about how other people can help takes anxiety and “guess work” out of social situations.