Eating Disorders: Importance of Support from Family Members and Friends

Thursday, February 23, 2012 4:54 PM comments (0)

Eating DisordersEating disorders can be easy to miss in our busy, health-conscious and appearance-focused culture. However, they are a serious problem affecting an estimated 7-11 million women and men in the United States. When left untreated, eating disorders may develop into a chronic, destructive, emotional illness with many physical complications. Friends and family members can help combat this illness by offering support and being aware of early warning signs. Suellyn Alexander, Clinical Program Manager at NorthShore Center for Eating Disorders offers some tips for friends and family members of someone struggling with an eating disorder:

Early warning signs may include:

  • Making excuses for not joining the family for meals
  • An excessive interest in wanting to eat healthy, food preparation, calorie counting, personal appearance and compulsive exercising
  • Unusual food rituals
  • Mood and behavior changes including depression, irritability, social isolation and sleep disturbances
  • Don’t ignore the issue. Express your concern openly, honestly and with compassion.
  • Denial of any possible problem when confronted with symptoms does not mean there is not a problem. Don’t be deterred by a strong, negative reaction.
  • Suggest an evaluation with a professional who has experience treating eating disorders.
  • Continue to provide support and avoid getting into a power struggle.
  • Be a good role model in terms of nutrition, exercise and body image issues. Seek professional advice and support for yourself.

Do you know anyone who struggles with an eating disorder? What have you done to help? What advice would you give to others? -- For additional online education and support resources, visit:

Further questions or concerns? Call NorthShore Center for Eating Disorders at 847.480.2617.

 

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