When I think about eating disorders, I think less about food and more about the pain the person feels. Busy schedules, missed family meals, limited time to talk, no one to really listen, and lacking time to “be” (meditate, pray, connect with nature) each leave us feeling anxious, empty, and depressed. Mix two or more of these problems and feelings of loneliness, unimportance, uselessness, anger, or just emptiness build. Those emotions make it easy to feel unhappy with the shape or size of our bodies.
Fueling up with healthy food, enough sleep, and support from people we love builds a sense of purpose and identity.…and a strong sense of satisfaction with who we are and what we look like.
If you think a friend or child is focusing too much on the way they look or actually has an eating disorder, here are a few tips:
- Listen to what they say and believe them when they aren’t happy with their body.
- Don’t try to treat their problem with food but do help them express and understand feelings instead.
- Do things together to help other people, animals, or the earth. Making a difference fulfills needs far deeper than carrying the right cell-phone, winning the most popular electronic game, having the most Facebook “friends” or trying to look a certain way!
- Help them become and/or stay connected in healthy relationships.
- Take good care of yourself to become a model of health.
- Get help from a trusted adult if you are worried about the safety of your friend.
Guest Blogger: Rachel Riddiford, MS, RD, LD
Rachel is the manager of clinical dietetics and cares for children and young adults with eating disorders in Nutrition Clinic. Contact her with questions at 641.5933 or firstname.lastname@example.org.