As a psychologist, I get asked all the time for book recommendations. Eating disorders (Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating Disorder) can be particularly difficult for the friends and family of patients to understand. The best book I have found to help is called Talking to Eating Disorders: Simple Ways to Support Someone with Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating, or Body Image Issues by Jeanne Albronda Heaton, Ph.D., and Claudia J. Strauss. The authors do a wonderful job of covering everything from the basic information of “what is an eating disorder?” to the more complicated issues that are inherent in these disorders.
One of the most helpful parts of the book is called “Tackling Tough Topics: What To Say.” In this section the authors outline what is not helpful to say vs. what is helpful to say to a person with an eating disorder. Often times, the person with the eating disorder hears our words very differently than we intend. An example from the book of words that are not helpful is, “You look too thin.” The authors correctly write that individuals with eating disorders hear this as a compliment and may feel like it is necessary to continue losing weight in order to get these comments. An example that the authors give of words that help is to say, “You are a beautiful person.” This lets the person know you are looking past their external appearance to who they are inside.
The authors cover issues with body image, dieting, the media, and many other important issues when someone you love is struggling with an eating disorder. If someone in your life is struggling with these issues, I highly recommend this book. If you, yourself, are struggling with any of these issues, do not hesitate to reach out to someone. To schedule a visit with a therapist, call us at 847-802-4058 or fill out our contact form by clicking here.
Posted by Dr. Michelle Bidwell