14 thoughts on “5 Things Not To Say To Someone With An Eating Disorder

  • March 16, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    The “everyone” comment reminds me of what often gets said to people with mental illness — “everyone has mood swings” to someone who’s bipolar, or “everyone is sad sometimes” to someone experiencing clinical depression. It really minimizes what people are going through and denies that these are real illnesses. It would be like telling someone with stomach cancer that “everyone gets an upset stomach sometimes.”

  • March 16, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    “You look well/healthy” to someone with anorexia. This is instantly translated by the eating disorder into “you look fat”. If you must compliment on looks, compliment on something specific and unrelated to size, “Your hair is so soft and shiny”. Better yet, compliment on something else entirely: “It was lovely for you to show your brother how to do x”, “you are so sweet and funny”, “thank you for helping with x when I didn’t even ask, you are so considerate and thoughtful”, “I love you”. Surely that’s not hard?

  • March 17, 2012 at 11:26 am

    “you don’t look fat too me” You can be the society ideal size and still have an eating disorder. Not every one is meant to fit the society ideal for size.
    Healthy people come in many sizes. I think this misconception is very serious.
    Health at Every Size and the size acceptance movement will someday break up this unhealthy idea and release many from body shame and resulting disordered eating (serial dieting, restrictive eating, overeating, obsessing on weight and size)eating disorders and general self abuse.

  • March 17, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    You just need more willpower… you need to take control…. F that!!!

    My doctor told me once to just give up sugar cold turkey.


  • March 18, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    At my own in-between state of recover-ing, I find a lot of people telling me I will look so much better with x pounds on me…or that I didn’t look good when I was so thin before I started working on recovery. The insinuation seems to somehow be that I engage in anorexic behaviors because I want to look better/good. This really has nothing to do with my drive to be thin. In the height of the disease wanted to be bone thin to the point that I know it’s ugly. I still have this drive coming up at times related to my weight gain. It’s not that I don’t know that other people prefer my healthier-weight appearance. I wish it were that trivial.

  • March 18, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    I had anorexia as a teenager all thru high school.It is also a means of control. If you can’t control other parts of your life (like my mother’s emotional abuse) at least you can control what you eat or don’t eat. There were times when my mother begged me to eat, which was very satisfying to hear and reinforced the whole thing. Unlike many, I never achieved being bone thin, much to my dismay. My hunger would eventually get the best of me and then I would gorge. I would hate myself after, then go into starvation mode, and the whole cycle would repeat itself. It was agony, but to me a good way to get back at my mother. I would look in the mirror and see a fat person, well, not literally, but mentally. Fortunatley, when I left for college and was out of the house, it gradually faded. But I did have one weird behavior – stealing other peoples food out of our communal fridge. I didn’t realize I could actually go buy my own food. .However I still have issues with eating and feel that I wrecked my metabolism. Bottom line, get to the bottom of the reasons, by seeing a therapist trained for this. Mine opened my eyes to them and to my twisted relationship with my mother.

  • March 19, 2012 at 4:45 am

    I haven’t had an ED myself but here’s my suggestion. “You are really thin and beautiful as you are now, you don’t need to loose any more weight”. To even comment on the person’s body or saying beauty has to do with how thin they are, to even think an ED has to do with looks in the first place. To even think that the person can be “thin enough” and “satisfied” at one point.

  • March 19, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    #2 rang so true for me. When I had my eating disorder, I had an extremely calorie-restricted diet and then binge. I was living at home with my parents at the time. It was clear from my behavior, my appearance and what I was eating that I had a problem. When I binged, I often ate large quantities of “their” food. Rather than wondering what led me to such behavior, and helping me with my problem, a family member instead became very angry that his food was good (mind you, we were not impoverished, I was not eating his last meal). At one point, he actually locked up food in the downstairs freezer so I couldn’t get it when I woke up in the middle of the night hungry. The result was to make me feel more ashamed of myself and my behavior. Also alone and uncared about. His actions just made me take my binging elsewhere. Judging is never a good thing.

  • March 19, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    I like the idea behind this article and it’s sparked great conversation and feedback. The only thing I’d point out is that people with bulimia keep it such a secret that you wouldn’t necessarily have to be concerned about what to say to them because you probably have n-o i-d-e-a they’re even bulimic. My family and friends didn’t know I was bulimic for 20 years. Bless their hearts I’m sure they never said anything unkind on purpose, but if someone’s bulimic you probably don’t know it. Just sayin’!

    Please check out my bulimia recovery blog sometime if you want more ideas/advice about recovery at http://www.inspiring-bulimia-recovery.com.

    With love and light,


  • March 27, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    Saying ‘you’ve lost weight’ to someone with anorexia. For me (when I had anorexia) I found that it was positive reinforcement for dramatically losing weight. Also reinforced the belief that the weight was the most important/only thing about me.

  • March 27, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    As someone with a severe ED yet in denial for a long time, the two worst things I was told was 1) I wish I could give you my extra “x amount” of weight. 2) I would kill to look like you.

    Not helpful. Giving weight would not solve anything. And you would be killing yourself to try and look like me. Literally. Are you willing to go home every night and hook up your j-tube for a liquid nutrition credit every night? That’s where it got me.

  • March 28, 2012 at 8:26 am

    I’d add, “What you’re doing to yourself is a sin.” and “you are so vein.”

    For me ED was NOT about looks. I thought it was at first too and I hated myself for being so “vein,” but really it was a reflection of what was going on inside of me. How I felt about myself on the inside was how I saw myself on the outside. I had suffered deep sexual and sadistic abuse and it was my way of gaining control of my life and surviving. I felt hideous because of the hideous things that were done to me. I didn’t know how else to cope. Having an eating disorder is NOT a sin and desperately trying to cope when you don’t know of any other way and don’t even realize that its your way of coping is NOT vein. I hate that the media portrays eating disorders as having to do with looks when in fact they are about a much deeper issue.

  • November 30, 2012 at 8:42 am

    I’m recovering from battling Anorexia and Binge for 15 years and I unfortunately work in clothing retail and I can admit customers and co-workers just assume the have the right to comment on whatever they like which has included my weight and appearance. The first thing they focus on is my “weight loss” and comment how I still have kept it up and how did I do it, they wish they could have my willpower. Co-workers have called me thin, skinny and one customer last night called me thin and I had to explain why I wish not to be called that even if that might have seemed like a comment to me it’s not. I’ve been asked how much I now weigh or even why I don’t eat in front of them. They even talk and complain about their weight in front of me like I need that reminder I’m already aware that I am recovering from an eating disorder. I feel that customers only know me as the associate who had lost x amount of weight and that stereotyped and labeled me, I didn’t do it for attention, but for my health. I am so over it and so sick and tired of it just move onto the next topic. They fail to hear the word recovering from eating disorder or when I say it’s something I rather not talk about.

  • March 5, 2013 at 11:38 am

    the one thing that really bothers me with an eating disorder is when others say looks like you have lost or gained weight. this is no fun to here i go one way or the other i binge or refuse to eat.


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