You don’t have to be thin to have an Eating Disorder

by | Mar 5, 2019 | Eating Disorders | 0 comments

Grace Russell, Dietitian, Baulkham Hills NSW

5 March 2019

‘I’m not skinny like her’

‘I mustn’t be sick anymore’

‘I don’t deserve treatment unless I’m very underweight’

These are some comments I’ve heard from patients who have been swept up in the misbelief that in order to have an eating disorder you have to be thin. However, Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder are experienced by people in bodies of all shapes and sizes.

The fact that there is so much stigma around eating disorders means that it is already hard for people to reach out for help. If you add in misinformation around how eating disorders look, this can make seeking treatment that much more challenging!

Someone with an eating disorder is struggling through an internal battle of control around food, exercise and their body. Giving up that control is incredibly hard and very momentous to their recovery. Hearing a comment about their body or weight threatens this process.

Advice for Parents, Carers & Friends

Keep Body Talk to a Minimum

If your loved one has an eating disorder it is important to keep body talk to a minimum, this includes talk about your own body and theirs. They don’t need to know about your body or your own eating patterns.

Ask open ended questions such as:

‘I would like to learn what happens when you think about food, can you explain?’,

‘How can I support you?’,

‘What do you think you need right now?’,

‘What things are you working on right now?’

Use empathy to show your loved one that you care and are willing to go into their struggle e.g., ‘I know it’s hard, I’m here for you’ or ‘It’s ok if you fall down, nobody’s perfect, I support you’.

Offer to seek help with them

Call up the Therapist or Dietitian and go to the appointment with them.

Become more informed to better understand eating disorders. Some helpful books include:

Unlocking the mysteries of eating disorders

Sick Enough? Surviving an eating disorder: strategies for family and friends

If you or your loved one is struggling with an eating disorder, we would like to help. We offer expert treatment in eating disorders, disordered eating, body image and food concerns and can assist you in your support role, as well as supporting your loved one on their road to a healthier life. If you would like to know how we can support you and your family further or you have more questions about how to support your loved one with an eating disorder, please give us a call on 02 88145703.


Grace Russell

Dietitian, Baulkham Hills NSW
Grace is enthusiastic about supporting women of all ages to find their own authentic health. Grace brings a caring, compassionate nature to her work and believes that kindness towards the self is a crucial agent for change. She is passionate about blending this with practical skills to ensure her patients can approach eating in a realistic, manageable way.


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