National Eating Disorders Association

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Multiple Friends with E.Ds

Hi! Two of my best friends have eating disorders, one of them going to the doctors for it. I have done my research & I know the signs & indicators. Whenever me & my two best friends ever converse, whether that be in real life, or on text, little signs of insecurity & unsure-ness shines though in their sentences to each other and me. whenever this happens, I never know what to say other than denying it, & when I do this, it feels like it does nothing. So what I'm asking for advice on is: what could I say or do that could actually be useful in situations like this, especially because I have not been though or supported somebody with an eating disorder?


First off, I'm sorry your post sat here for a while unanswered. It's kind of how things are on this forum : Sometimes you'll need to wait a few days for a reply.

In any case, as you are seeing, it really can be difficult to "say the right thing" in situations like this. Plus EDs are quite private things, to the point where even your two friends may have difficulty discussing it with each other. So I hope you won't think that somehow there's some set of magic words you can say that will serve to make things all better again.

But understanding the sorts of internal thoughts they are fighting against can help. People with EDs often struggle with the "good enough" thing. No matter their accomplishments, somehow they are never quite good enough as human beings. There's often a lot of self-hate too, which can lead to feelings of unworthiness. Plus they often are dealing with control issues too : Like they always have to stay vigilant, and exercise self-control. "Loosening up" can feel like a dangerous thing.

So if you understand the sorts of inner messages that their ED is feeding them, that can help a little I think. Personally, I'm not sure that telling people that everything's going to be fine, or that they really should not worry about these things helps much. They feel how they feel, and that's pretty much it. But at the same time, it's no fun for them to have these sorts of feelings, and if you can show that you understand that part, then that can help a little I think.

Because people like to feel understood, you know ? Or to at least feel that others are trying to understand them. And if you can keep that in mind when you are talking with your friends, then that's something that can feel supportive I think.

Anyhow, hope you see this, and that it helps just a little.