How you can help a friend you suspect may have an eating disorder?
- Don’t fight with her about food. Often, those who suffer from anorexia or bulimia feel that the only thing they have control over is their bodies and their food intake. When you get into a power struggle about food, your friend may feel threatened.
- Don’t pull a guilt trip. It will never motivate them into recovery.
- Learn about eating disorders. Education is key to understanding how someone with an eating disorder feels.
- Talk about issues other than food. People with eating disorders constantly think about food. Changing the subject may help a little.
- Encourage them to get professional help – especially if she is in immediate physical danger.
Related: My nine-year battle with anorexia
Self-check list: if you think you may have an eating disorder, look out for these signs below. Also make an appointment with a medical professional if you have any concerns.
- You are obsessed with dieting and constantly count kilojoules
- You have lost a drastic amount of weight
- You exercise excessively
- You think about food all the time
- You truly fear putting on weight
- You are secretive about what and how much you eat
- You force yourself to vomit after a meal
- No matter how thin you become, you still consider yourself fat
- You weigh yourself all the time
- You feel guilty when you eat
If you are seeking help for an eating disorder, contact Crescent Clinic on 021 762 7666 or Eating Disorders South Africa on 012 993 1060. Anorexia can affect people of all ages, races and gender but is most common in women between the ages of 15 and 25. It usually develops as a means of coping with a complex combination of physical, emotional and mental issues. The most obvious sign of anorexia is extreme weight loss, usually accompanied by an obsessive preoccupation with food and being fat, but other symptoms include dizzy spells, swollen ankles, fine body hair, stomach pain and a disrupted menstrual cycle in women.