Eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder, have a high mortality rate among other mental health problems. Due to lack of knowledge, this problem is still widely underestimated and even associated with negative stereotypes.
If you want to know more about bulimia nervosa you can read about it in this article
What is Eating Disorder?
Eating disorder is a condition when a person experiences significant disturbances in eating behavior and related thoughts and emotions. People with eating disorders often worry about food and their weight.
Often misunderstood, eating disorders actually are not only about behavior but also thoughts and emotional problems. Losing weight is only an output of the way people with eating disorders respond to their negative emotions and thoughts about food and body image. They tend to feel embarrassed and guilty if they overeat.
Therefore people with eating disorders are usually more sensitive about what other people think about their bodies. Others may try to give them kind words of support but often for people with eating disorders, these “kind words” did not help but rather only made them feel worse.
If KALMers is someone who is struggling with an eating disorder and frustrated by other people’s comments about your body, don’t feel alone. If you want to talk about this, feel free to download the KALM application and discuss how you feel with the Kalmselors there! You can download KALM app here.
And if KALMers knows someone with an eating disorder, it’s important to understand that these words can be hurtful and hinder their recovery.
1. “You don’t look like you have an eating disorder.”
This statement is very insensitive and does not seem to validate what people with eating disorders are going through. Eating disorders can affect anyone, no matter how their body looks alike.
2. “You are not grateful, eat more!”
This makes a person with an eating disorder feel worse. Remember that they do not eat not because they are ungrateful, but there is something wrong with their thoughts. They will feel disgrace and guilt if they force themselves to eat.
3. “I envy you, you’re the type that is hard to get fat.”
KALMers please avoid talking about weight with people who have eating disorders. People with eating disorders usually pay a lot of attention to their weight, diet, and other people’s appearance around them. Commenting on our weight will make them focus on their weight as well. Focus on accepting yourself.
4. “You look very thin and unhealthy.”
Unhealthy statements can be a form of concern but for people with eating disorders, they will interpret the word “unhealthy” with “thinner” which is their goal. They face various difficulties in achieving a thin body and comments or compliments about it actually make them want to lose weight again and again.
5. “Your body looks great and perfect.”
As with the previous statement, this statement may seem good to say. But unfortunately, an eating-disordered mind will interpret words differently. People with eating disorders are usually required to gain weight as part of their treatment process. By commenting that they will interpret ‘perfect body’ as extra weight and this can be frustrating for them.
6. “Finally you eat.”
Avoid commenting on what someone with an eating disorder eats unless it is part of a treatment plan. People with anorexia and bulimia often believe that other people are watching what they eat and then judging them. Commenting on what they have eaten only would confirm it KALMers.
7. “Are you on diet?”
Our society is accustomed to praising a person’s weight loss. However, if a person with an eating disorder loses weight and gets a positive response, this can encourage their unhealthy eating behavior. Try not to comment on appearances at all.
It may sound exaggerated but believe me every comment about food and weight will impact them more than you can imagine, KALMers. Make sure you ask how to support them first. Listening without judgment is one of the best forms of support so that they can be more open about their difficulties.
Written by: Rachma Fitrianing Lestari
Translated by: Rachma Fitrianing Lestari
Editor: Lukas Limanjaya
Cowden, S. (2020, January 28). What not to say to someone with an eating disorder. VeryWellMind. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-not-to-say-to-someone-with-anorexia-or-bulimia-1138326Ford, M. P. (2020, February 24). Eating disorders are about emotional pain – not food. TheConversation. https://theconversation.com/eating-disorders-are-about-emotional-pain-not-food-131826