Eating Disorders Support

  Eating Disorders Overview     Eating Disorders Treatment

Coping with an eating disorder isn’t easy. But if you or a family member or friend is struggling, there is help. NAMI and NAMI Affiliates are here to provide you with support for you and your family and information about community resources.

Find information about NAMI Washtenaw County support groups and educational programs for people living with mental illness and those who care for them, and other local resources on this website, or call our office at 734-994-6611. To find out if there is a NAMI program or support group someplace near you nationally, or if you have questions about dissociative disorders, contact the NAMI HelpLine at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or

Helping Yourself

Although you may realize that your behaviors are destructive it may be difficult to control them. Treatment can teach you ways to cope. Here are some examples:

Lifestyle  It’s important to begin making changes in your life and remove the reminders and stop negative behaviors associated with the disorder. Resist the impulse to check yourself in the mirror frequently or weigh your several times a day. Fight the urge to diet or skip meals.

Steer clear of troublesome reminders  Identify triggers such certain places, stressful situations, friends, that trigger behaviors or symptoms and prepare a plan to deal with them.

Accept yourself  Your healthy weight is your ideal weight. Don’t be tricked by ultra-thin models and actresses. Look for healthy role models. Focus on activities and interests that make you feel good about yourself.

Partner with your health care providers  Develop trust and communicate openly. Give your healthcare provider the information he or she needs to help you recover. Don’t skip therapy sessions, and be consistent with meal plans. Ask about vitamin and mineral supplements and which type of exercise, if any, is appropriate for strengthening and rebuilding your body.

Complementary therapies  Alternative and complementary therapies and medicines can have negative or positive effects. Always discuss with your health care providers anything you would like to add to your treatment plan. Weight loss supplements, diuretics, laxatives, or herbal remedies are commonly unregulated and often misused. Other treatments generally considered safe and helpful include acupuncture, massage, yoga, chamomile tea and biofeedback.

Learn all you can  Read self-help books that offer practical, credible advice. Research helpful topics online, but don’t visit websites that promote dangerous eating habits or showcase very thin, unhealthy bodies, as it could trigger a relapse. For men with eating disorders, check out the National Association for Males with Eating Disorders (N.A.M.E.D.).

Find emotional support from others recovering from an eating disorder  Share your thoughts, fears, and questions with other people who have dealt with an eating disorder. Connect with others on online message boards or peer-support groups like NAMI Connection support group.

If you live with a mental health condition, learn more about managing your mental health and finding the support you need.

Supporting Your Family Member or Friend

Get educated about the disorder  NAMI Washtenaw County offers the Family to Family 12-week course for families and loved ones of people struggling with mental health issues.  Learn about various conditions, treatments, and communication techniques to help you support your loved one and while taking care of yourself.

Discuss your concerns  If you have concerns about a friend or family member and suspect an eating disorder may be the reason, learn about the different disorders, symptoms and warning signs. When you are knowledgeable, talking with him or her in a loving and non-confrontational way about your concerns is best. Tell the person you care.

Suggest that they see a doctor, counselor or other health professional  This may be tricky, as your loved one may not want to admit or even realize there is a problem, but sometimes seeing a professional who is knowledgeable about eating disorders is the first step in recovery.

Avoid the traps  Conflicts and battles are hurtful. If a person is not ready to acknowledge a problem, you can be a supportive friend. Avoid placing blame, guilt, or shame on them about behaviors or attitudes related to the eating disorder. Remember that giving simple solutions minimizes the courage and strength a person needs to recover from an eating disorder.

Be a good role model  Reflect on your attitudes and actions. Do you maintain sensible eating and exercise habits? Also, focus on the other person’s successes, accomplishments or personality.

Parenting  Having a child with an eating disorder places significant responsibility on parents, making them active partners in treatment planning and implementation. Your family needs to feel comfortable and confident in the professional’s approach and abilities, and in discussing the disorder. Finding a mental health professional with experience treating young people or children with eating disorders and their families is important.

Find emotional support  Family support groups provide people with a chance to share thoughts, fears and questions with other people who are in similar situations and understand. NAMI Family-to-Family programs are offered in Washtenaw County by our affiliate. Call our office to learn more and to register for this 12-week course.

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