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When Dealing With An Eating Disorder... DO NOT....

- Make the person "guilty" of the problem.

EXAMPLES: Words and attitudes which say: “How can you do this to your body?” “ Some people are starving!” “You should be ashamed of yourself!” We are ashamed to say that we used these words and this attitude both in desperation and in ignorance.

- Warn the person of the dire, possibily fatal, consequences of eating disorders.

EXAMPLES: Share the physical consequences of eating disorders, ill health, bodily disfunctions which may never heal and death. Our daughter later explained that she knew she could die and she was afraid to die. Warning her about the dire consequences only served to increase her fear,and thereby, intensify of her eating disorder.

- Actually punish or reject the person in some vain attempt to make the person change.

EXAMPLE: Words or actions which say: “If you don't eat I'm leaving!” We never punished or rejected our daughter, but she thought we would, if only to end the insanity and chaos that come with an eating disorder. The resulting feelings she had about herself and what she was doing to us were just as damaging as rejection or punishment.

In effect, these kinds of approaches reinforce what the person already believes - that he or she is bad, guilty, a failure and completely unworthy of anyone's love or help.

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