11 THINGS YOU SHOULDN’T SAY TO SOMEONE WITH AN EATING DISORDER

7. You just need a little self-control. Just don’t

binge, it’s simple

“I have so much self-control that I’m frozen with control and perfection. I’m an absolute subservient to my self-control. So much so that eventually I crack and break in half and this sneaky piece jumps out of me and steals all the food when I’m not looking. It’s terrible and it feels awful.”

Better Statement: I know this is hard for you, I’m sad that you are going through this.

8. Do you know how hard this is for me to

deal with?

“I know- I really do, it must be incredibly hard for you. But I need you to know that this really isn’t about you. My eating disorder is not about you, it’s about me. You didn’t cause it and you can’t fix it, so please don’t frustrate yourself. I know it’s hard for you to deal with. I know. It’s hard for me too. But please don’t try to make me feel guilty in order to shame me into stopping. I have so much guilt and shame around this and it just throws me deeper into my disorder. I just need your love and understanding.”

Better Statement: I’m here for you. I’m not going anywhere. It’s hard, but I support you.

9. I’m going to help you… just do what I tell

you and eat what I tell you to and when I tell

you to and it’ll be fine

“I know that you want to fix me because you love me. But it will make you crazy and it will make me feel like a failure and it will ruin our relationship. I’m not going to be able to do what you tell me to do. I have to recover on my own by helping myself. Please don’t try to fix me. It will break us both and we won’t be able to survive it. It’s not your job to fix me. Just love me and support me and be patient with me.”

Better Statement: Just keep going with your recovery- and let me know what you need. I can support you with love, patience, and kindness. If I have trouble with that, we can go see someone and talk it through.

10. Do you think you need to keep eating

that?

“Please don’t be my food police. Because what I’m likely going to do is put the food away, die of shame right now, then come back and binge on it later.”

Better Statement: Everything okay? Do you want to talk? (If not– let it go)

11. Why is it taking so long for you to get

over this?

“Because recovery is a long process. These patterns and habits and coping mechanisms have been formed for the past (10,20,30,40,50) years… and I have to actively work to change them. I’m frustrated with myself. And when you’re frustrated with me, it’s even worse. I just need your encouragement to keep going. I need your love and support, but most of all, I need your patience.”

What to say:

  1. How can I support you?
  2. What do you think you need?
  3. Should we go talk to someone together? (Like a Licensed couples counselor who specializes in treating eating disorders).
  4. It’s okay if you fall down—everyone falls down, you’re human.
  5. Do you need to talk?
  6. Come on, let’s go take a walk together and look at the trees. We don’t have to talk if you don’t want to. I just want to be with you.
  7. Are you okay? You seem stressed out—is there anything you want to talk about? How was work/school/your day…
  8. I love you no matter what. You are perfect, whole and complete and I support you.

What to do:

Ask your partner if there are any foods that they would rather not have in the house. Try not to be resentful if they can’t have say peanut butter in the house. Again—if your partner were a recovering cocaine addict, would you have piles of cocaine on the kitchen counter? Most likely not.

Invite them to have dinner. If they say no, don’t push it, but don’t give up on them.

Don’t engage in “fat chat” if they want to talk about how much weight they’ve gained or if they ask you if they look fat. Just say “I’m not going there.” Don’t corroborate with their eating disorder voice.

Don’t make comments about their body or anyone else’s body or body weight.

Don’t make comments about your own body, your own weight loss or your own eating.

Go in with them to see their therapist or an Eating Disorders Anonymous meeting and learn more about the disorder.

Don’t neglect yourself or your own needs to take care of your partner. Consider groups like Codaso that you can focus on yourself and your own needs rather than your partner. You need to remember your own self-care when you are living with someone deeply entrenched in an Eating disorder.

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