After my article from yesterday about what not to say to people with anorexia, someone requested that I write on helpful remarks to make to someone who struggles with anorexia. Right away, I loved that idea. So often, we are told what not to do. That is helpful for knowing what not to make mistakes about but leaves us in the dark regarding how to act instead.
Hopefully, this list will be beneficial to those who support people with anorexia nervousa. These are some of the most encouraging comments that I have received as well as things that I wish people would say to me. Also, I would love to hear encouraging stories about kind comments you have heard from others. Affirming that positive is something that we should not forget to do.
- I love seeing your smile/your eyes light up/your sense of style/etc. Compliment something other than weight. There are so many beautiful traits that each person has. Finding a few that do not include words like “thin” should not be too difficult.
- You are beautiful and worthy of love no matter what you weight is, was, or will be. This affirms the person and shows that weight is not what is the most important aspect of a human. There are more important qualities.
- Would you like me to eat with you? Beware that the answer to this might be “No!” However, this simple action can mean so much. I realized that barely anyone has eaten with me at school. It is so lonely always eating alone.
- I have a granola bar/apple/glass of water/etc. You do not need to take it, but I would love to give it to you. Without pressuring someone into eating, you are showing how much you care about his or her well-being. Once again, the answer might be “no,” but the thought will not be forgotten.
- It means so much that you went out to eat with us/had dessert with me/ate pizza with our friends/ect. Affirm times when your loved one eats scary food or in frightening situations. Show how that impacted others (including yourself) in a positive manner.
- It will be alright if you eat that cheese/trail mix/banana/cupcake. Your body knows what to do with it. Said in a compassionate manner, this can be so helpful. Be careful not to sound preachy or exasperated. Instead, just state the facts that the body knows how the process the food while sympathetically acknowledging that it is frightening.
- How are things going lately? Do you want to talk? Simply being willing to listen without judging means so much. Hearing how someone with anorexia thinks might be painful. Actually listening without berating their eating disordered thoughts can be a huge blessing to them.
- You are so strong. I believe that you will get through this. “Stay strong” is a common phrase said by people fighting for recovery. It might seem cliche, but it still is helpful as is your support.
- Did that trigger you? When you say something that you realize could have been hurtful or upsetting, admit it. Instead of hoping that your friend or family member did not understand, ask the question and apologize if necessary. Everyone is triggered by different things.
- I don’t understand that or how to help you. Tell me more. One of the most helpful things that you can do is just admit that you do not know what to do. Simply listening will teach you a great deal.
What are some comments that you have heard that you would add to this list? Please let me know.