Helping a loved one with their overeating problem can be difficult, especially if you’re not sure what to do. This article is meant to help you better understand your role as a support for your friend or family member as they tackle this issue of overeating.
- offer loving support
- talk to them about their problem
- help them to make healthy choices
- realize that it’s a process
- let the professionals do their job
- try to make them feel badly for slipping up
- tell them to “just eat less”
- limit their food intake
- try to be the expert
- take treatment into your own hands
It’s easy to get frustrated when someone you love has a problem with food. You wish they would “just get over it” so that they can start living a healthier, happier life. What they really need though, is your love and acceptance while they work on their issues. Let your loved one know how much you care by offering your support in whatever form they might need.
Sometimes overeaters are in denial, although most of them typically recognize that they have a problem. Ask them what’s going on. There’s a deeper issue than just eating too much and gaining weight. There is an emotional reason why your loved one is overeating. Show them that you are there to listen, whenever they’re ready to talk.
Set an example for your loved one by developing a healthy diet and lifestyle for yourself. When you lead by example, you create a template for your friend or family member to mimic. You can also keep your home full of healthy foods and snacks so that, if they do decide to eat, they’re filling up on foods chock full of nutritional value.
Overeating issues don’t disappear overnight. They’ve probably been accumulating for years. It takes time to change eating patterns, beliefs around food, and the underlying emotional reason for overeating. Do your best to provide steady and constant support while accepting that the progress may be slow.
If your loved one is working with a treatment team, let them do their job. They are trained to handle clients with eating disorders and have a lot of knowledge and experience in treating them. It’s OK to supplement professional treatment with a coach or alternative therapy, but make sure to follow the instructions from a season treatment team.
It’s natural, it happens, and you can bet your bottom dollar that they’re already feeling guilty about it themselves. Telling them that they “should try harder” or “aren’t trying hard enough” is going to make them feel worse and then guess what happens? They eat more.
That much is understood. They know they need to eat less; the issue is that they don’t know how to eat less. It’s actually wired in their brain to eat more than they need to. It takes time and effort to rewire the brain. If you can understand that, you can be an even better support for your loved one.
If you want to put a strain on your relationship, by all means be the food police. If you’re hoping to keep your loved one loving you, you need to let them overeat if they decide to. You may think that you’re helping them by serving them small portions and taking food away from them, but you’re just treating the symptom.
You can read all the books you want on overeating but unless you’ve experienced it yourself, you’re going to have a hard time relating to what your loved one is going through. Accept that your love and support are enough. The causes of overeating are personal and it’s up to your friend to figure out what’s going on for him or herself.
Of course, you want to do everything you can to support your loved one. Do your research and figure out the best ways you can offer aid. However, don’t try to become the professional. You may be well-intentioned, but it can be dangerous and life-threatening to your loved one if you decide that you’re now in charge of their therapy. That said, you should take responsibility for your participation in the treatment process. It’s important for the support team to stay actively involved in recovery.
The best thing you can do when a friend or family member has an overeating problem is to just be there for them no matter what. Be a ready and willing listener and a constant support. Be the cheerleader that never stops cheering, even when their progress halts or regresses.