- Don’t try to solve the person’s problem on your own.
- Learn everything you can about eating disorders.
- Point out signs/symptoms you’ve noticed that have caused you to be concerned.
- Encourage person to get professional help as soon as possible and inform them of resources available on and off campus (contact the Counseling Center for more information).
- Tell the person you want to help and let the person know you care.
- Pick the right time and place to discuss concerns with the person (free of distractions)
- Be patient.
- Avoid arguments or “battles of will” with the person.
- Don’t “nag” about eating or not eating. Don’t be forceful.
- Don’t agree to keep the person’s eating disorder a “secret” when the person’s health and/or thinking is impaired.
- Avoid making comments about the person’s appearance.
- Limit discussions about food or labeling foods as “good” or “bad.”
- Do be available to listen to the person in times of distress.
- Reach out to the person as a friend instead of focusing on the person’s eating behavior.
Signs and Symptoms
- Significant weight loss of 15% or more of person’s expected weight for the person’s height
- Loss of menstruation
- Downy-like hair growth on face and arms
- No energy
- Permanent tooth damage from vomiting
- Tissue damage to throat and esophagus
- Kidney damage
- Electrolyte imbalance
- Scrape marks on back of fingers as a result of repeated attempts to purge
- Preoccupation with body weight
- Distorted body image
- Intense fear of becoming obese, which doesn’t diminish as weight loss progresses
- Refusal to maintain normal body weight
- Fear of not being able to stop eating voluntarily
- Has very strict rules surrounding food
- Episodic binge eating
- Hides food
- Plays with food on plate at mealtimes, but eats very little
- Repeated attempts to lose weight by utilizing severely restrictive diets, self-induced vomiting, use of laxatives/enemas/ diuretics, appetite suppressants, or vigorous/excessive exercise
- Frequent trips to the bathroom right after meals
- Constant weighing of self