A while ago we went through some comments about food that we should remove from our vocabulary for good, because they perpetuate the impositions of diet culture and contribute to create an unhealthy general mindset around food. However, when you know a person next to you is suffering from an eating disorder, you need to be specially careful.
Comments made without thinking, or even wanting to help, can turn out very triggering and have devastating effects: either consolidate the twisted ideas of the illness if the person isn’t in recovery yet, or deeply hurt the person and even push her to relapsing if she is.
With this I don’t want to say that it’s your fault if this things happen, or that you always have to go walking on eggshells. In fact, truth is, when you’re recovering from an eating disorder, EVERYTHING is triggering. It’s impossible to create an aseptic environment, and that wouldn’t be healthy either, since the person needs to learn to live in the world. But also think that, precisely, she has enough between the nightmare in her mind and all the triggers she has to face in a daily basis, and be a little careful when there’s something that you can easily do.
Among those things, I highlight avoiding these 10 kinds of comments:
I’d like to have your willpower!
(No, you wouldn’t…) This is something I was told a lot during my anorexia when I refused for example to eat sweets, chocolate or pizza, or didn’t have a morning snack or things like that. It was very counter-productive because it filled me with pride and reaffirmed me in my idea that I was morally superior to everyone because of my asceticism. As if food was a temptation and one should try to avoid falling into it. I loved to arouse that kind of admiration, feeling like anorexia really turned me into a higher being than the average people, who couldn’t but succumb to the passions of the flesh.
They key is to understand that the person with an ED doesn’t have willpower or control, but that’s all an illusion: in fact, she’s completely controlled by the illness.
Stopping to praise food restriction and instead normalizing that each one eats knowing and listening to their body would be a a great help to break this environment that’s so favorable for the proliferation of eating disorders, both purely restrictive and those in which people restrict in public and can’t help but binge-purge in private.