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Recommended Dos for being supportive
One young woman's immediate family and siblings were aware she had a problem but did not discuss it with her. "My cousin finally sat me down and talked to me, she wasn't attacking or judgmental and I went to treatment because I wanted to please her."

  • Talk with the person when you are calm and not frustrated or emotional
  • Be patient and non-judgmental
  • Educate yourself and provide information on eating disorders; learn the jargon
  • Talk in a kind way
  • Listen
  • Show concern, sympathy, and understanding
  • Show that you care, ask how s/he is feeling
  • Suggest that professional help may be needed
  • Encourage getting help and offer to go along
  • Remember that the recovery work is up to the affected person
  • Be honest
  • Let him/her know you only want the best for him/her
  • Remember that recovery takes time and food may always be a difficult issue
  • Help the person to be patient
  • Have compassion when the person brings up painful issues about underlying problems
  • Ask what you can do to help
  • Be flexible and open with your support
  • Understand what "safe" foods are (certain foods the patient will not want to binge on)
  • Encourage the person to buy foods s/he will want to eat (as opposed to only "healthy" foods)
  • Encourage social activities that don't involve food
  • Encourage all activities suggested by treating healthcare team such as showing up for appointments, taking and refilling medications
  • Help with household chores (laundry, cleaning) if depression keeps the person from doing them
  • Compliment the person's personality, successes, accomplishments
  • Try to be a good role model
  • Remind the person s/he has people who care and support him/her
  • Understand that the person is not looking for attention or pity


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Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder in which a person engages in binge eating (eating a lot of food in a short time) followed by some type of behavior to prevent weight gain from the food that was eaten. This behavior can take two forms: self-induced vomiting, misuse of enemas, laxatives, diet pills (called purging) and excessive exercise, fasting, or diabetic omission of insulin (called non-purging). Some people with bulimia nervosa may also starve themselves for periods of time before binge eating again. Bulimia nervosa has important mental, emotional, and physical aspects that require consideration during treatment.

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