Yesterday I had an eye opening conversation with a good friend of mine. We like to consider ourselves seasoned BYU students, but she was concerned about her freshman roommates. She noticed they were losing weight rapidly and constantly baking cookies, brownies, and other sweet treats but never eating. They obsessed over calorie counts, fat contents, and waist sizes. She was worried they had an eating disorder or heading in the wrong direction. After reflecting on my past roommate situations, I realized I probably had a roommate with an eating disorder. She carefully planned every meal, ate little or no food, measured her waist size, constantly fed me her fattening treats, and obsessively exercised. I think I knew at the time she was struggling, but I didn’t know how to handle the situation. I didn’t want to confront her about my suspicions in case I misunderstood her actions. But speaking up saves lives. No girl should suffer through anorexia alone. As a her roommate, and more importantly her friend, I should have helped her.
I found these helpful hints for confronting a friend with an eating disorder:
Set a time to talk: Find a quiet place to talk with your friend. Leave plenty of time for a long conversation.
Tell your friend about your concerns: Be honest. Tell your friend you are concerned about their eating or exercise habits.
Ask your friend to talk to a professional: Explain to your friend that a counselor or doctor can help her overcome her eating disorder. Offer to help her make an appointment or go with her to the appointment.
Avoid conflicts: If your friend won’t admit she has a problem, don’t push her. The best thing you can do is maintain your friendship. Show that you love and care about her.
Don’t place blame or guilt: Don’t accuse her of not eating, throwing up, or over exercising. Instead show you are concerned that she doesn’t eat enough or exercises too much.
Don’t give simple solutions: Combating an eating disorder is complex. Your friend can’t just stop or simply start eating.
Most importantly, let your friend know she can count on you for love, support, and sympathy.