Bulimia Support: How to Help Someone with Bulimia
Knowing how to help someone with bulimia is critical to their recovery as well as your relationship with the bulimic. Friends and family may initially feel powerless to supply bulimia help, but education and participation in the person's treatment can show loved ones how they can help.
How to Offer Bulimia Support
Most people don't fully understand bulimia and other eating disorders, so education is the first step in learning how to help someone living with the illness. Ways to educate yourself on how to offer bulimia help include:
- Learning from the bulimia treatment centers being attended by the bulimic
- Attending therapy or doctor visits (if the patient allows)
- Reading books on bulimia and bulimia support
- Contacting eating disorder agencies for educational material
- Attending bulimia support groups with or without the patient, or support groups only for family members and loved ones
Let the Bulimic Tell You How to Help Someone with Bulimia
Often, bulimics themselves know the best way you can support their bulimia recovery efforts. It's important to be open and nonjudgmental about the person's illness, their bulimia symptoms and behaviors, and their progress towards recovery. As you might imagine, it's embarrassing to talk about bingeing and purging. Being judgmental makes it difficult for the person to open up to you.
Parents of someone with bulimia have a special challenge in that they often blame themselves for their child's eating disorder. It's important to remember that it's better to focus on offering the patient with bulimia help than it is to focus on why the eating disorder occurred in the first place.
Some positive ways of communicating an offer of bulimia help include:1
- Ask if it would be helpful to have or not have certain foods in the house
- Ask if planning activities for right after mealtime would help reduce the urge of the bulimic to purge
- Consciously listen when your loved one tells you about ways to offer bulimia support
- Allow the person to express his or her feelings
- When faced with concerns, be open and calm and do not place blame
Behaviors that Offer Bulimia Support
While no one can do the work of bulimia recovery except the patient, there are behaviors that can help during the recovery process. One form of bulimia support is offering encouragement:2
- Understand that you can't fix your loved one's bulimia, so remove the word "solve" from your vocabulary. Bulimia is a mental illness that the individual must choose to treat. (read about treatment for bulimia).
- Set a healthy example by healthy eating, healthy exercising and by creating a positive body image.
- Never make negative comments about your or anyone else's body.
- Be good to yourself and seek the help of a professional or a bulimia support group if needed.
- Schedule regular family mealtimes.
- Don't be the food police - the bulimic needs compassion, not nutritional advice.
- Don't use insults, fear, guilt, or embarrassment. Since bulimia is often caused by a form of stress and self-hate, negativity will only make it worse.
Tracy, N. (2022, January 4). Bulimia Support: How to Help Someone with Bulimia, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, February 1 from https://www.healthyplace.com/eating-disorders/bulimia-nervosa/bulimia-support-how-to-help-someone-with-bulimia