How Family Members Can Support a Loved One Undergoing Anorexia Treatment


When a person is struggling with anorexia nervosa, it is important for family and loved ones to provide the support necessary for them to overcome the grasp of the disorder. Of all of the eating disorders, anorexia nervosa has the greatest potential to cause long-term damage, psychologically, emotionally and physically. Actually, the fact that anorexia often involves the person starving themselves in order to achieve an unrealistic body image means that the person can be at risk of ultimate starvation.

The Initial Stage of Support

The preliminary support process consists of confronting the person is a loving and caring way about their problem. It is likely that they will initially deny having a problem, but instead of becoming accusatory in tone and verbiage, it is best to take steps to ensure that they have the support that they need, when they are ready to get help. It may take some time for the person to open up and discuss their problem. The primary focus at this point should be getting them the professional help that they need. It is important to understand that anorexia is a mental disorder, and without getting professional help is unlikely that the individual will not be able to break free of the powerful grasp of the disease.

Continued Support During Treatment

When a person is going through the recovery process for anorexia, receiving help and support from family and friends can have an immense impact on the efficacy of their treatment. The process of working the treatment program will be guided by the mental health professional that is administering the treatment program; however, family and friends can offer their support in a number of different ways. Studies reveal that when a person is going through a treatment program for an eating disorder, the involvement of family can provide added incentive for the individual to push through those difficult moments. The presence and involvement of family also reminds the person that they are not facing their struggles alone.

There are a number of different ways that loved ones can offer support to a person going through treatment for anorexia, including:

  • Being a listener, which should not be underestimated, as the individual discover the need to vent or share. Sometimes a person who is struggling with an eating disorder will be battling feelings of guilt, and having someone to talk to will help them sort out their feelings. There will be other times in which they will be upset with themselves for allowing the disorder to progress as far as it did before seeking help. The key here is to listen with care and empathy.
  • Being a good role model as far as healthy eating and nutrition is concerned is also another great way to provide help and support for a person who is going through treatment for anorexia.
  • Refrain from negative comments about your body or anyone else’s
  • Avoid constant talk about weight and food, including how much or how little they have eaten.

In the quest to provide support during the recovery process, it is important to understand that anorexia is a highly complex disorder, and there could possibly be multitudinous triggers that can easily be set off, meaning that words must be chosen wisely. Additionally, it is a good idea to attend anorexia support group meetings with the individual whenever possible.

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