Asking For Help When You Have an Eating Disorder


Eating disorders are very serious. When compared to all types of mental illnesses, eating disorders are implicated in the greatest number of deaths. An eating disorder is a condition related to mental and emotional health, but its impacts affect the entire body. The only way to get better and to ensure that your disordered eating doesn’t devastate your life any further is to ask for help. Doing so can be frightening. You likely feel ashamed and embarrassed about the way you eat, which is normal for someone with an eating disorder. Start with someone you trust and you will find that those who love you want to help and support you.

Recognizing the Need for Help

Believe it or not, you have already taken the first step toward asking for help. Simply recognizing that you need it is a huge hurdle, and one that not everyone with an eating disorder overcomes. Seeing our own flaws and our own disordered behaviors is not easy. Even when we do recognize behaviors in ourselves that are harmful, we are very good at justifying and minimizing them. That you have not only acknowledged yours and have even realized that you need help is a big accomplishment. Let this give you the encouragement and the courage to now open up to someone you trust so that you can get the treatment you need.

Start the Conversation

The hardest part about confiding in someone about your problem is getting started. Once you get going, you’ll see that it actually feels good to open up to someone you trust. This is the key: make sure you choose someone you trust. This person should also be someone who is likely to be willing to support you through your struggle. Once you have someone in mind, invite her over to talk. You should be alone with this person, or at least reasonably separate from other people, so there are no disruptions or distractions.

If you really aren’t comfortable confiding in someone from your life, you have another option. You can talk to a professional. A therapist, an eating disorder counselor or even a trained nutritionist or dietician will listen with compassion and will guide you to the next steps you need to take to get help for your disordered eating. Whether you first open up to a professional or to a trusted loved one, doing so is the important next step you are taking toward healing. Follow up these conversations by committing to attending counseling sessions so that you can learn to reshape your relationship with food and eating.

When You’re Not Taken Seriously

If you take the brave step of confiding in a loved one, maybe a parent, what do you do if you are not taken seriously? Parents and other loved ones may be in as much denial about your disordered eating as you have been in the past. They may not want to admit to seeing something going on right in front of them. In particular, if a parent feels he or she has contributed to your poor body image or your unhealthy relationship with food, admitting to it may be difficult.

Faced with this situation, present the facts calmly and rationally, educate your loved one about eating disorders and ask for support. If the person you are confiding in still doesn’t take you seriously, try not to feel bad about it. This is her problem, not yours. Take charge of the situation and turn to a professional for help. You can’t change the way other people react, but you can take control of your own life and make changes for yourself.

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