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How to Help Someone with an Eating Disorder

If you have a friend or relative who is overweight and can't seem to lose weight, you have probably wondered how to help. You are concerned about their health and you are frustrated because it seems like it is such a simple thing – just stop eating. But when it comes to eating disorder, it's not really about weight or food; it's more about dealing with emotion and stress. With an eating disorder, forcing your friend or loved on to change is not going to help, but encourage and support can make a great difference.

Understand Eating Disorders

Before learning how to help someone with an eating disorder, it's important to understand what eating disorders are about in the first place. Many people who suffer from an eating disorder show it in different ways. Some people put themselves on a very strict diet while others secretly binge. Others make themselves vomit after meals and some people become obsessed with counting calories. While these behaviors may seem just like unhealthy eating habits that have spun out of control, over time they lead to inaccurate views of their body and the way they handle food.

Behind most eating disorders are painful and uncomfortable situations that the person cannot face or deal with. They use the different eating behaviors to feel as if they are in control. When they overeat, it makes them feel better temporarily but they are left with feelings of self-loathing and helplessness.

Types of Eating Disorders

In order to know how to help someone with an eating disorder you have to know what type of disorder he or she has. The three most common types are:

  • Binge eating – This is where a person eats beyond the point of satisfying hunger and even goes to the point of being uncomfortable. The person eats in a compulsive manner and quickly takes in thousands of calories.

  • Anorexia – People who are anorexic are too afraid to eat and actually starve themselves, sometimes to death. They have a fear of getting fat and will do anything to not become fat. Those who are anorexic have an unrealistic sense of their body and think they are already fat.

  • Bulimia – People with bulimia compulsively eat while out of control until they are past being full, then they make themselves vomit to void themselves of all the food they have just consumed.

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