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How to Help a Loved One Struggling with an Eating Disorder

Are you in a relationship with someone that suffers from an eating disorder? Are you wondering how to support your better half through this difficult time? Let’s take a look at tips on how to help a loved one.

18666589_sAccording to an article at, “In a Relationship with a Loved One that’s Struggling with an Eating Disorder”

“An eating disorder is not an easy plight: you don’t need to drink alcohol to live, but you damn well need to eat if you want to stay alive. Food is everywhere and unavoidable. When you struggle with an eating disorder it can feel like you’re a prisoner to your body…so essentially, you’re dating or married to a “trapped” person in chains. If you happen to love a person with an eating disorder I say to you now: Be patient, good luck, and here’s what you need to know:

1. We’re not trying to please you
An eating disorder is not about trying to look good for a partner. Oh no. Nope. Don’t get your ego thinking that. An eating disorder is all about control and often self-hatred/issues of self-esteem. For me, I felt as if I had very little control of life and I just started dealing with issues stemming from the time I was raped as a teenager.

Pair that with a deep feeling of insecurity and shame from post-traumatic memories along with repressed feelings and BAM: I was in eating disorder hell. Your partner is not starving themselves or binging and purging because they want to be perfect for you — they want to be perfect for themselves and perfectly controlled! And by the way: Until that eating disorder is conquered, they will never drop that false belief of perfection.

2. We set up insane goals for ourselves
If I can just be this weight or that size or look like this instead of this. These are the little twisted narratives that people with eating disorders will tell themselves. When you’re in the trenches of an eating disorder, you set up these insane goals for yourself and then when you reach these “goals” you’re still not happy!

“If I only weigh 99 pounds I will feel great!” You hit 99 and do you feel thin enough?

Nope! You’re not good enough because you’re still not perfect. Sure, we know intellectually that no one is perfect, but our brains aren’t functioning how they should and so our minds keep telling us: Keep doing this until you’re perfect. The problem with that is we’ll never be perfect enough! When you love a person with an eating disorder you’re holding the hand of a person who will never measure up enough in their eyes, even if they does in yours.

3. We are married to control
I’m bringing it back to this one powerful word: control.  Your partner is married to control. They want things to happen in a predictable way. They want to have the reigns over everything in their life but most especially, food. When they feel anxious about anything in their lives whether it’s a job change, move, health issue, and fight with a friend or even you, their eating disorder will rear its ugly head.
If you think you’ve met a disciplined person before, think again. An eating disorder takes discipline and control to a whole other playing field. “To read the entire article click here.

Worried about a loved one and looking for an expert in eating disorders in Reno? To schedule a consultation contact Barbara Cox at 775-329-0505 or visit

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