Firstly, well done for thinking about bringing in the support of your friends and family. They can be such a valuable source of help for people with eating difficulties. We know that the chances of successful treatment increase when the support of loved ones is there. However, it can be challenging; how do I bring it up? How will they react? Will they get worried? Will they think less of me? Will they be able to support me?
These are some of the questions that often prevent people from sharing their difficulties with their loved ones. Therefore, it is important to think about the best ways to share your difficulties with friends and family and ask for their help. Here are some tips that other people have found helpful when asking friends and family for support: Even though most people recognise that it is a challenging task, they also feel a big relief after asking for support. A problem shared is a problem halved! In this programme, we have a module on how to build your support network with more information on this topic.
You may also find this read helpful: https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/recovery-information/tell-someone
- Identify specifically who you want to talk to. Is there someone that is closest to you? Someone you have confided in before? Someone you trust? Someone who is likely to be understanding of your problem?
- Prepare in advance. You can write down what you are going to say. Think about how you will start the conversation. Share with them your thoughts and feelings, and how you would like them to support you (e.g. meal planning, tracking binges, or just being there for you!).
- Set up the meeting through a medium you feel most comfortable in. It can be a live chat, an email, a text message, or even a letter. If you prefer a live chat, arrange a specific time and place to do it.
- If they react poorly, remember that they may be reacting out of fear or confusion. Have some resources for them on what is binge eating and dispel any myths around binge eating. However, don’t spend too much time convincing them that they should support you if they are not willing to listen. If they are not, the next person you share will be.
- It’s ok to tell them what you don’t find helpful (e.g. comments on appearance, amount of food ordered/eaten etc.)
- If you have already shared it with someone who is supportive, invite them to help you.
Dr Iakovina Koutoufa