Eating Disorder Awareness Week is 1st – 7th March 2021. This is a topic that I am really passionate about because it has affected my life so much. I’m aiming to get 2 or 3 blog posts out this week surrounding the topic. To start with, I’m going to be writing about 6 things you shouldn’t say to/talk about to someone with an eating disorder.
*Disclaimer: I am not an expert/professional in eating disorders, this is purely based of my experiences. If you think you or someone you know might have an eating disorder, please seek help.*
Related post: My favourite recovery quotes
“Children in Africa are starving”
Do not under any circumstances say this! It just applies more guilt to the person suffering. You don’t choose to have an eating disorder.
“You look healthier”
You are probably thinking ‘how is this hurtful?’ but this makes us believe that we don’t need treatment anymore. It implies that we have gained weight and are all recovered. It doesn’t make any logical sense but whenever someone said that to me, I would think that I was giving in far too easily to recovery. Again, this doesn’t make sense because the eating disorder caused me nothing but pain – but recovery is hard and can feel like you’re losing something that was so close to you even if it was toxic. Yes, we might look better than we used to, but it isn’t a physical illness, it is a mental illness and requires a lot more than gaining weight.
“Why can’t you just eat?”
Ok, I know eating disorder has the word ‘eat’ in it, but it isn’t all about food. An eating disorder is a mental illness and it is so much more than eating. If all it took to recover was ‘just eating’ then don’t you think we would have thought of that? It can be so demeaning to hear someone, especially a loved one, telling us to just eat. It doesn’t go away by eating.
“How did you lose so much weight?”
One of the worst things about recovery, is how much our society loves people who are on a diet. It is so difficult to recover when all that is talked about is a new diet or an old diet back in fashion.
When in recovery, whether or not you actually want to recover, it is super unhealthy to be asked how you lost weight. It can actually encourage that person to restart their diet. Also, if you know that someone is in eating disorder recovery, don’t comment on their body. They are likely to be very sensitive.
“If you think you’re fat, then I must be huge”
This is just so unhelpful. When I was struggling, a few people said this to me. In the nicest way possible, I was completly focused on how I looked and not how others looked. You are likely to think that others look completly fine in their body shape (even if it is the same as yours and you feel fat).
Me thinking I looked fat, is not a reflection on you. This is a ‘it’s me, not you’ situation.
“I wish I had your willpower”
I had really strong willpower in my eating disorder and I did get complimented on this. I was happy when I was being complimented…well no, that isn’t strictly true. It wasn’t me that was happy, it was my eating disorder. It wasn’t me that had the willpower, it was me following extremly strict rules that my eating disorder was forcing me to follow.
I hope that this post has helped you/made you more clear on what not to say and what kind of effect it can have.
Another reminder, that it is very important to reach out and talk to someone if you/someone you know might have an eating disorder. There are lots of helplines & great ED info pages that can help.
BEAT – 0808 801 0677
Mind – 0300 123 3393
Samaritans – 116 123
Best wishes, Cx