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You had your suspicions and your worries. You had become concerned about your loved one’s eating habits, appearance, and apparent decline in health. Thankfully, you weren’t the only one who noticed the problem. With the support and encouragement of friends and family members, your loved one saw a doctor and was diagnosed with an eating disorder.

What happens now?

More specifically, what should you be doing (or not doing) now that you know that your loved one has an eating disorder?

First, remember that your loved one is the same person today as he or she was last week, last month, and last year. An official diagnosis is an important step in getting treatment – but it doesn’t change one thing about the person who has been diagnosed. An eating disorder can clearly have a devastating impact on a person’s health, but it doesn’t change who that person is. Do not lose sight of the fact that your loved one is not defined by his or her eating disorder.

One of the many unfortunate realities of experiencing a serious illness is that friends or even family members may withdraw, often out of fear of doing or saying the wrong thing. Do not allow any potential unease on your part to prevent you from providing the love and support that your loved one needs. Here are three more simple yet essential ways that you can make a world of difference:

  1. Communicate: Let your loved one know that he or she is welcome to discuss anything that is on his or her mind. Also make it clear that you won’t pressure him or her to talk about anything that he or she would prefer not to address.
  2. Stay involved: If your loved one’s treatment program has a family component, and if you are invited to participate, do not pass up this important opportunity. In addition to showing your support for your loved one, you will also be able to learn how best to support his or her recovery efforts.
  3. Take care of yourself: You cannot be a source of effective support if you are neglecting your own physical and psychological health. Depending upon your relationship with your loved one, you may want to talk with a therapist about how you have been impacted by the eating disorder, and how you are dealing with the stress.

If you’re not sure about something, educate yourself. Visit reputable websites, talk to professionals, or simply ask your loved one. The key to maintaining a healthy positive relationship with someone who has an eating disorder is to remember that you are dealing with a person, not a problem.

Post provided by Carolina House