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How to help someone with an Eating Disorder

Types & Brief description

There are many types of distorted eating and the next slide shows a few examples. Recovery is not easy for someone with an eating disorder, as they may not want to recover. Support and love is necessary to help someone to get through difficult times.

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia Nervosa, colloquially known as anorexia, is a distorted eating pattern revolving around the fear of gaining weight, and thus trying to prevent it by restricting calorie intake or excessive exercise. People suffering from anorexia often have an altered sense of body image and may suffer from a variety of medical conditions due to low food intake.


Bulimia is another eating disorder where an individual may intake large amounts of food in one sitting – also known as bingeing – and then later purge the calories in unhealthy methods, for example, self induced vomiting or the misuse of laxatives. Bulimia is a very dangerous condition due to many reasons, one of them being, frequent vomiting can lead to the erosion of the oesophagus.


BED stands for Binge Eating Disorder. Those suffering from BED often intake an excessive amount of food in one sitting, which may lead to feelings of guilt or regret after. It is mainly characterised by bingeing in secret, and feeling as though you have lost control of yourself during the moment.


Orthorexia is the obsession of healthy, or “clean” eating, to the point where it interferes with everyday tasks, and may lead to feelings of anxiety or depression. It is difficult to diagnose as to many it comes off as the common dieting we see on social media daily, however those with orthorexia struggle with a severe compulsion to eat healthily, and feel guilty & stressed by breaking their food rules.

What not to say/do:

  • Commenting on weight lost or gained

  • Do not force feed

  • “Isn’t losing weight a good thing?”

  • “You don’t look like you have an eating disorder”

  • “Oh you’re eating a lot! So you’ve recovered?”

    • Recovery is not linear. Commenting on how much someone is eating, can be triggering for many.

  • “Can you give me advice on losing weight?”

  • “You just lack self control”

Instead, you should say

  • A Hug🫂 (always ask first!)

  • “I’m proud of you”

    • Rewarding small achievements in recovery can mean a lot

  • Complimenting other aspects of appearance eg. shoes, makeup, nails

  • “I care about you”

  • “I believe in you”

    • Recovery is a long road, and supporting and believing in someone can aid it drastically

  • “I might not understand, but I’m here to help”

    • Simply being there for a person can go a long way!



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