I regularly feature Q&As with individuals who’ve recovered from eating disorders, binge eating, negative body image and any kind of disordered eating. If you’d like to share your story of recovery, I’d love to hear from you! You can email me at [email protected].

Here’s part two of my interview with Andrea Roe, eating disorder survivor, advocate and author of You Are Not Alone, a compilation of inspiring stories, poems, artwork and song lyrics from women who’ve recovered from eating disorders or are in strong recovery.

Below, Andrea talks about how food became healing, how families can help a loved one with an eating disorder, her wonderful work with MentorCONNECT, resources she recommends and more.

If you didn’t get a chance to read part one, check it out here.

You can read the other powerful recovery Q&As here.

8. Q: What are some misconceptions about eating disorders, particularly how they’re portrayed in the media?

A: Eating disorders are often referred to as a “teenage girl’s disease.” But the truth is that anyone, no matter what gender, age, race, religion, profession, etc., can develop an eating disorder. Eating disorders don’t discriminate. They are not simply about food and weight; they are about deeper things going on inside.

9. Q: Many people don’t realize the physical consequences of eating disorders, including electrolyte imbalances, irregular heartbeat, osteoporosis, severe tooth decay and digestive problems. Did you experience any health problems as a result of your eating disorder?

A: Yes, after abusing my body for several years, I had some health consequences as a result… and ironically enough, what helped me get better and helped heal my body was FOOD. Food, my enemy that I hated so much before, ended up becoming my medicine.

10. Q: What can family members do to help a loved one seek treatment and how can they help during treatment?

A: Be supportive. Let your loved one know you are always there for them, no matter what. Encourage them to do activities with you. Go for a walk. Go shopping. Spend time on hobbies the sufferer still enjoys. Just having a meaningful conversation.

It is often difficult for someone with an eating disorder to be really open and honest with their loved ones as there is so much fear and shame connected with this disorder. We are afraid of being rejected, being made fun of, being left alone.

Don’t force them to act “normal.” You cannot force someone with an eating disorder to change their beliefs or behaviors. You cannot force an anorexic to eat, a bulimic to stop vomiting, or a binge eater to stop eating huge amounts of food. We have to remember that eating disorders are not simply about food and weight.

As well, learn as much as you can about eating disorders. There are many books written for loved ones filled with information on eating disorders and also tips and advice on how to best support someone with an eating disorder, what to say and do and also what not to say and do. Eating disorders are still very misunderstood in today’s culture. A little education can go a long way.

REMEMBER: Be realistic. Successfully dealing with an eating disorder takes time. Don’t expect your loved one to be “cured” right after treatment. Recovery is a process. There is also no rule for how long it takes for someone to recover. We all have different stories to tell, different reasons why we developed our eating disorders, and we are all at different points in our lives.

11. Q: What kinds of resources (books, websites) do you recommend for individuals struggling with eating disorders?

A: There are a lot of wonderful resources available, many of which I used myself during my own recovery.

Here is a list of my favorite eating disorder recovery books:

Here is a list of my favorite online recovery communities and other support and information websites:

12. Q: Please tell us about MentorCONNECT and your work with the program.

A: MentorCONNECT is a wonderful pro-recovery community that not only provides a safe place for those in recovery from an eating disorder, but also one-on-one support.

Shannon Cutts (MentorCONNECT’s founder and author of Beating Ana) approached me over a year ago, with the idea of creating a pro-recovery community that also offers one-on-one support. Because mentoring was a huge part in my own recovery, I loved the idea of MentorCONNECT (MC) immediately and was honored to be part of MC’s Leadership Team and to be able to work with Shannon and all the other amazing people who make MC happen.

I’m also one of MC’s volunteer mentors. I love supporting others in their healing journey by listening and sharing what I learned during my recovery. There is so much negativity out there and it is important to let people know that there is HOPE. I am proof of this and not the exception to the rule.

In addition, part of the profits of my recovery companionship book, You Are Not Alone, Volume 2 (includes Companion CD produced by Shannon Cutts), are donated to MentorCONNECT.

For more information on MentorCONNECT, visit www.key-to-life.com/mentorconnect

13. Q: Anything else you’d like readers to know about eating disorders?

A: If you are struggling with an eating disorder, please reach out and get help. You deserve to get help. You deserve to be happy and healthy. You deserve to live your life without the eating disorder. And in order for someone to successfully recover, help and support from others is crucial.

If it wasn’t for my support team, I would not be where I am today. I would have given up somewhere on the way. It’s important to have others in our lives who believe in us and help us get back up again when we fall. Recovery is not easy…but it is well worth it. As long as we keep on fighting, work on our recovery and don’t give up, we can reach our goals and one day be free of this disorder. This is a battle that can be won.

Thank you, Andrea, for your inspiring interview and for the amazing work that you do, day in and day out!

Also, don’t forget about the giveaway! Just comment on this post and you can enter to win a fantastic free book! I have one copy of Beating Ana: How to Outsmart Your Eating Disorder & Take Your Life Back, written by Shannon Cutts, and two copies of 100 Questions and Answers About Anorexia Nervosa by eating disorder specialist Sari Shepphird, Ph.D.

Plus, Andrea also has generously offered to give away one copy of her book, You Are Not Alone, which comes with a CD by Shannon Cutts. The giveaway ends this Sunday at 12 p.m. EST.