5 Ways to Help Someone with an Eating Disorder | Kati Morton
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5 Ways to Help Someone with an Eating Disorder | Kati Morton

August 16, 2019


So today I’m gonna offer 5 helpful tips that will better enable you to help those you care about who struggle with an eating disorder. Now the first thing that I would recommend you do is educate yourself about the disorder and the treatment options. I know that may sound kinda silly and ridiculous but I find before we’re even gonna say anything, try to offer support, we need to understand what it is they’re going through, what it can look like, and what treatment options are out there, especially if we’re gonna try to help them or assist in some way in them getting help. Now the second, and the thing that I probably talk about the most is just checking in on them. That doesn’t mean hounding. That doesn’t mean “I think you should eat more.” That doesn’t mean any of that stuff. What you need to do as someone who’s supportive and loving to this person is just check in on them and let them know that you’re there. A lot of times that’s honestly all we need just knowing someone’s there that cares about us, that’s there to support us, and wants to help us as best they can. The third way to help someone is to potentially help them pick out or figure out different treatment options. And that’s why it’s important that we educate ourselves first that we already kind of know what the lingo is, what the options are. And if maybe they need someone to take them there. Maybe they need someone to take them on an outing if they’re an inpatient and they just want some extra support because as you work your way through the levels when you’re in an inpatient ward, they can offer you outings with family members and friends who are supportive of your recovery. And so finding out how you can help and support them as they try to work towards recovery is really important. And the fourth, and what I may argue to be the most important of all of these, is understanding the recovery process. And not just the recovery process as a whole what it looks like for that person. We know recovery is a process and not perfection. There are gonna be slip-ups. There are gonna be times where we’re eating more than we should.. under-eating. We’re gonna binge and purge. We may be over-excercising. We’re gonna use our behavors some times when we’re going through recovery. It’s not perfect. It’s not like “Well! Today I decided to stop using it so I’m never gonna use it again.” That’s not how it works. Unlike addiction and a lot of other issues that we work on in therapy, we always have to eat. So whether our issue is over-eating or under-eating, or exercising, or binge and purging whatever it is, we’re still gonna be around food and so there are gonna be slip-ups and the sooner you, as a loved one of them, can understand this and understand the process and that it’s not perfect, the more helpful and the more loving and supportive you can be. And number five, and the final way to help someone who’s struggling with an eating disorder take care of yourself first! This is not your fight. This is not your recovery. If you don’t take care of yourself and work on yourself, you can’t be present to help them. You can’t be there to support them. And if we’re putting other people always before us, we’re gonna suffer. We’re gonna be neglected, and things will get worse for us. And like I always say, and like everybody always says, if you don’t love yourself first, you can’t love other people. And what we’re trying to offer to those who struggle is love, understanding, and support. So make sure you’re giving yourself that first so that you have the excess to give to someone else. And if you’re new to my channel and this is the first video you’ve watched because somebody else shared it make sure you click here to subscribe and like this video. Our community is growing every day and I would encourage you to hop into the comments and join the conversation as we work together toward a healthy mind and a healthy body. Subtitles by the Amara.org community

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  1. Thanks a bunch! This is super helpful. Could you do one on self harm as well? I think that one is super difficult to know what to do to help someone who self harms.

  2. I remember when I told a friend about my eating disorder before I went into recovery and he took it upon himself to research! That always blows my mind whenever I think about it, but it also made me feel loved. I've been in recovery for two years now!

  3. I don't have no one to help me I don't have no support and I have bulimia and anorexia and it's something that I will have for the rest of my life

  4. So answered a lot of my questions thanks Kati! I am so happy I found you I look forward to seeing your videos here and Facebook 👏🏼

  5. Thank you so much for this video Kati! I think it's really important to understand the disorder before judging and trying to give advice to someone. My friend is suffering from anorexia for over a year now and I just don't know what to do anymore. They refuse to tell someone and get help. I tried so hard to convince them to get help but I failed. How can I get her help?
    Have a nice day ♡

  6. I think another good point is to not mention the person's weight. Even if you might think it's positive, it can have a negative affect on the person with the eating disorder.

  7. These are really good tips, thank you! I struggle with bulimia my self and my roommate checks up on me regulary with just talking about my life and also his life and tells me that he noticed it when he did (when I come withh reary easy out of the bathroom) but puts no pressure on me! This is also so important: don't force us to do anything it won't work! He's just caring and says regulary that I always can come to him for help – knowing this helps me with my recovery and therapy

  8. Kati could you give me a shoutout in your next video? My real name is Drew (girl) and your videos have been so helpful and made me realize that I needed help for my eating disorder. I have made progress, I was at a stable weight for almost 2 months but recently had a relapse and it made me remember how bad it was and I don't want to go back there. Thank you for all you do.

  9. Thank you Kati for making these videos they're super helpful especially if people don't understand what you're going through! Your videos brighten up my Mondays:)

  10. Once I tell my family about it, this is DEFINITELY something that I need to show them!
    I have a question: so my psychiatrist said that I'm in the in the beginnings of having bulimia, but I was wondering if it's common to sometimes not want to purge, but you feel like you have to punish yourself for eating so much? Thank you, and thank you for all that you do! You're such an amazing person! ❤ XOXO #KatiFAQ

  11. Hi Kati, how do I support my girlfriend when we both have eating disorders? I am coping better most of the time but I am no where near recovered so anything she tells me is really triggering and I don't know how to help her… Thanks x

  12. I have an eating disorder and I tried purging last night. as a result I woke up with a super sore throat and my throat is so swollen. I'm afraid to ask for help

  13. Where was this video a couple of months ago? 😛
    One of my friends suffered from an eating disorder (she under-ate and overexercised) and I did a ton of research in order to help her.
    The fifth tip is the most important. I was so frustrated all the time because I wanted to help her but she didn't want to get the help cause she wasn't "bad enough" (which we know is bullshit).
    At some point I started working on my binge eating with my therapist and I was going through tough times. Things she told me were effecting me really badly. So I just told her that I can't handle it right now (her numbers and food choices) and I'm not talking to her about it, B-U-T if she's ready to start recovery I'm more than willing to help her get everything that she needs and she should tell me.

  14. Hi, I am Sarah from Saudi Arabia and I have been watching your videos lately and they're very informative. I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart, since you have been a great help to me. We lack professional treatment centers in our country (in the Middle East region in general) /it's not really accepted in society if you went to one or took any prescription medication. I show many signs of borderline and depression as well. I am taking things day by day since I don't have any other option, and again your videos have been a great help. Thank you.

  15. My GP say I'm suffering with bulimia & anorexia but my bmi is in the middle of the healthy range. How is it possible to have anorexia???

  16. I'm trying to find the way to open up to mom but it's so hard cause she's so controlling and has always expected me to be perfect in everything:clothes,manners,education,piano lessons,languages,school,university…ugh…it's so hard…but i gotta find a way.

  17. I developed anorexia because I kept having allergic reactions to chemical preservatives in all the boxed/pre-made food my grandparents kept buying. They almost never kept anything that wasn't junk food or ready to make foods. That and they let us eat candy all day during holidays, and as a child, I sure didn't know any better.
    Years later, I'm still struggling to eat even two meals a day and I'm starting to see signs of a thyroid disorder my dad has so…it's been rough and I'm scared to go to the doctor.

  18. #katifaq I don't know if you get asked this or not but I just wanted to know your opinion on pro ana websites. I know they're popular when it cones to anorexia or bulimia. I've been using them for a really long time, even though I'm now working towards recovery. I don't like the websites as such but I can't looking at them for support. It's almost as if I'm addicted to them. Anyway, thanks for all the help and it would be nice to see what you think on these websites. Love you lots xx

  19. Not just with ED, but with supporting anyone who is in need of support, you can't let it be at a cost to your own well being. If you can't bring yourself into the relationship healthy, then you'll both be worse off for it.

  20. hi kati, could you do a vid on pure O OCD? One of the ways mine manifests itself is in my eating habits which has led my family to think I have an ED. A big part of my compulsions involve "starting over" and resetting myself so I go between eating absurdly healthy to binging on anything and everything for various amounts of time (also effects my hygiene & educational/professional life) and its made my weight extremely unstable for years now.

  21. Hey Kati, any tips on how to help someone who doesn't accept they could have an eating disorder? I have a friend who occasionally makes themselves sick after a meal. It's not after every meal, they don't binge and purge or anything like that, just occasionally if they think they've over-eaten recently (even if they haven't). I'm not sure when something like this actually becomes an eating disorder (if it isn't already), but she see's at as just a throwaway thing that happens occasionally and isn't a big deal. I'm worried by it, even if she isn't because, if nothing else it could be the fist step to an eating disorder. I've only brought it up twice over the course of our friendship and I don't want to push it for fear of doing more harm. Is this something that I should be legitimately concerned about and how do I support her if so?

  22. hi! I already asked this on another video but I'm hoping for an answer so I'm asking again:) so I want to tell my parents that I think I might have an eating disorder but 1) I don't know how to tell them and 2) I'm afraid I'll get put impatient because I'm underweight. What do i do? please respond <3

  23. PLease educate my parents! They do nothing but ignoring my problems and myself. I can't starve to daeth right infront of them or throwing up right infront of them and they do NOTHING. And I almost want to say that they promote my ED. They are such shitty parents. Honestly, nothing but shitty.

  24. Hi, Kati! I am new to your channel and glad I found it! I am still in my undergrad program (psychology) but graduating this Fall! I will be applying for grad school soon after to get my masters in clinical mental health counseling… I really want to focus on helping someone with an addiction, especially eating disorders.

    Anyway, I was reading about yourself on your website and was wondering how you started in the inpatient eating disorder center. I am not sure where to go to find something like that in my area, how did you find it and apply? Was it an actual job?

    I suffer from BED and I have learned a lot about it and ways to overcome it (but I am still a work in progress)

    Thank you!

  25. Thank you. This is so timely. I just found out that I friend of mine has anorexia, and I've been unsure about how to support her.

  26. At what point should someone talk to someone about an eating disorder? I think I have one, but I don't know when to bring it up to my psychiatrist

  27. Great video Kati! I am currently struggling with my recovery from 14 years of ED behaviour. Needless to say it's taking some time for recovery to really sink in, despite my willingness and good intentions.

    I am quite candid with my friends and family now, and have made public posts on Facebook for the sake of demonstrating that its okay to be vulnerable and to show that more often than not other people will in turn be vulnerable themselves when we do, despite our tendency to believe they will tear us down. 🙂

    Long story short, I'm posting this video to my Facebook page. Thank you so much for shedding some helpful and concise insight that can help my extended circle.

    <3

  28. I've always heard that saying, that we need to learn to love ourselves fully before we can love others, but how do you actually do that? How do you work on accepting who you are and loving yourself, so you are able to understand, love and help others to the best of your ability? Keep up the great work Kati 🙂

  29. I was wondering if you can have agoraphobia and social anxiety at the same time? Like almost a year ago I was diagnosed with social phobia and I still have that but in the past few past I've started to think I could also have agoraphobia because I've been so scared to leave the house and I haven't been going to school at all because I'm scared of have a panic attack there and the feeling of feeling trapped and like I can't leave without embarrassment or I just wouldn't be able to leave. I've only been able to leave my house to go see my counsellor and psychiatrist in 2 months and that's it. My counsellor's the one who originally brought up the agoraphobia suspicion but I don't know if it's just the social anxiety getting worse. So I was just wondering can you have both or does having one mean you don't have the other?

  30. i don't have a diagnosed eating disorder but have something similar which my GP had never heard of before. i have a panic attack every single time i eat for no reason, nothing about body image or whatever just literally no reason so then i won't eat to stop them even though i get about 5 anyway every day. i don't know what to do no one ever really understands.

  31. #katiFAQ how do you get the courage too get help. It's easy to say if your having problems get help but it's scary and many people know they need help but don't have the motivation to get the help.

  32. #Kati FAQ this might sound stupid but everyone says stop self harming but how do u stop self harming afterburner have been doing it for so long

  33. How to overcome being hurt and traumatized by your therapist ? Especially that you don't trust therapists any more and you feel that they don't care about you and they are just doing their job. It is the worst thing to hear in therapy, but it happens. :"( #katifaq

  34. How do you handle the guilt associated with parents who get emotional when they are concerned? I shut down when my mother is in tears because I can't handle my own emotions plus hers. You're awesome Kati- love the amazing contribution you are making to so many lives!

  35. Let me start off by saying KATIE YOU ARE THE BEST!!
    Now boring stuff: I can't really tell anybody about my "eating disorder" bc they will just be pissed and I really don't want to be a disappointment. Sometimes I wish I could get past the anxiety that occurs when I talk or think about talking to someone about it but I can't. I have issues with Low self-esteem and self harm. I feel like my issues aren't serious enough. My mom has had problems with depression in the past but now she thinks medication anything else is useless, she wouldn't help me verify asked. I'll be 18 in May so I'll be able to work that out by myself, and probably all these other issues that I'm dealing with. Anyway Katie you're such a big help thank you for all the videos you put out keep doing the great work!!!💜💜
    Sorry for spelling/grammar I ramble and I'm a pathetic dyslexic :/

  36. This is really helpful, thank you! One thing I'd like to hear a bit more about is number 5. How do we take care of ourselves? What does that look like?

  37. I only have one criticism. Please don't say you can't love someone else until you love yourself. People with depression, eating disorders, mental health issues are fully capable of loving another person even if they're not there yet with themselves.

  38. My sister has anorexia and she says in her diary she loves anorexia and that she purges and puts herself through punishment when she binges. She has binged today and I'm scared she's going to keep punishing herself. I want to help her but I don't want her to know I'm helping. She is 17. I don't want to lose her.

  39. Thank you! I have a best friend that got bullied a lot and got called fat…at lunch she, wont eat. Me and my small group of friend have been helping her, She  is a shy kid too….so well, earlier she said "Thank you for helping me"

  40. I have a serious question. So my friend is not eating at all, she sleeps during lunch and when she shows signs of passing out or she feels faint she will have a health bar. The problem is that she keeps saying that she forgets to eat or she doesn't have food laying around the house. I know she is tired being hungry and I want to help her but I don't know the best way I can. I don't know the name of her eating disorder nor how to approach this. What do you suggest?

  41. Hi kati could you please do a video specifically for how parents can help their kids who have eating disorders? Especially regarding how to approach the subject when the kid is denying it or lying about it. I have a family member who really needs help. There are so many "how to tell your parents" videos on YouTube but so little info on "how to approach your kid/teen" on the subject. The teen is in denial and lying about it and I'm so worried but I have no idea what to tell the parents to do other than what not to do (aka don't punish or shame her).

  42. My friend has an ED, but he can't get treatment. He often comes to me to vent, but I have no idea what to say to help him. I listen, and I let him know I'm there, I give him compliments but I don't knoooow help

  43. Okay so my mom has been on and off with anorexia and bulimia for years (I’m 14 and she’s been doing this for longer than that) but she tries to make it seem okay. For instance, if I tell her to not buy a new pack of cigarettes she’ll tell me that she then needs to make herself throw up because it’s either one or the other. It’s very frustrating because I know she isn’t okay but her and my dad won’t listen to me. I really feel like she needs to go back to treatment or something like that but my dad says there’s nothing we can do and he just acts as if nothing is happening. I feel like I’m alone in this. I’m only in high school so I don’t have any control over what happens but it’s a very unstable environment and I know she needs help. Any suggestions on what to do?

  44. someone i am very close to is struggling with bulimia and it is starting to impact me in a negative way. i feel hopeless because it doesn't seem like they are willing to change or are motivated to seek help.

  45. When I was in residential treatment they wouldn't let my boyfriend come see me. He supported me and I talked good about him all the time but I told about my family and the abuse and emotions and the people let the family see me. But not my boyfriend. It made me so angry.

  46. My ex girlfriend or whatever she considers us to be is suffering from this. Is there anyway I could help. She hates herself and has just had a negative perception of everything.

  47. Thanks, my close friend has anorexia, I just recently found out how severe she had it. Thank you for the video

  48. My best friend has Anorexia or BDD. I want to be as supportive as I can, but hearing her talk about her weight and how bad it's gotten can make me have suicidal episodes. How can I help her without triggering my depression? I try my hardest to be happy for her whenever she eats and support her working out, but she sometimes over works or throws up. How do I help her the most in this situation?

  49. someone i know has an eating disorder and is suicidal. I have done a lot of research about it and depression, with she also has. her parent know about it and she is seeing a psychologist but she feels that they are trying to take the control from her and now she wont tell her psychologist anything ore take help from her parents. she talks to me very openly about it(to the extent that i know where she vomits, when her parents wont let her use the bathroom) and i try to make her see that she is losing control but she is convinced that she is in full control and she dos not wont to stop her eating disorder.
    (her goal is 40 kg)
    is there a way to help her more?? i beg of you to tell me.

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