Eating Disorders: Tips for the Family
Watching a family member deliberately starve themself is very distressing.
Family members may try daily to persuade the Anorexic to eat. Such interventions are unlikely to be successful which compounds the despair they feel.
Here are some practical tips for the family:
- When discussing food eliminate talk of the person and focus on fact. For example, you could say: All living things need to eat (and not “You need to eat”); The dietician says…; Would you prefer to eat A, B, or C (i.e: the choice is about what to eat rather than whether to eat).
- Anorexics do nibble when not being watched. Leave small bowls of nuts, raisins, dried fruit, and even crisps lying around.
- If the anorexic is refusing to eat something on the grounds that it is fattening it is better than they eat something rather than nothing at all.
- Avoid talking about food at mealtimes and rather choose other topics.
The aim is to keep the Anorexic alive until a treatment intervention can be applied to restore rational thinking.
Consult with a specialist dietician or book your family member into a specialist eating disorder treatment program.
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Anorexics are gripped by an illness that entrenches very irrational thinking.
They may have unreasonable outbursts that are completely disproportionate.
These perceived injustices can then be used as fuel to support the notion that the Anorexics needs are not being considered. Letting the rant flow past and waiting for a more rational mood is a good idea.
When you think that the time is appropriate to approach the Anorexic calmly. Don’t ignore the rant, make sure you discuss it when the Anorexic is less angry, guarded, and defensive.
Make it clear to the Anorexic that you love him/her as a person, but can’t tolerate the behavior.
Make sure that you learn some relaxation techniques and practice them as needed. There are several easy methods to relax that don’t need a lot of time, scented candles, or chanting.
Learn them and use them.