ALGEE for Eating Disorders Do: • If the person shows signs of serious physical health consequences (disordered thinking, disorientation, vomiting several times a day, fainting spells, collapses or is too weak to walk, chest pain or trouble breathing, blood in their stool, urine or vomit, an irregular or very low heartbeat, cold or clammy skin): Call 911. • Learn as much as you can about eating disorders
The immediate image that springs to mind when
— by reading books, articles, brochures or gathering
one thinks of eating disorders is an emaciated
information from a reliable source such as a support
teenage girl who has starved herself to the point
organization or a health professional — and make a
of being unhealthy either by not eating enough,
plan before approaching the person.
or by bingeing and purging. In reality, an individ-
• Approach the person alone in a place that is private, quiet and comfortable. • Focus on conveying empathy, not on changing their perspective.
ual with an eating disorder can be underweight, normal weight or even overweight. Eating disorders are not just about food, weight, vanity or willpower and control. An eating disor-
• Focus on the eating behaviors that concern you.
der is a serious and potentially life-threatening
• Give plenty of time to discuss their feelings while reas
illness, often occurring when a person has dis-
suring them it is safe to be open and honest. • Give hope for recovery.
Don’t: • Focus solely on weight or food.
tortions in ideas and emotions relating to body image. Many people suffering from eating disorders also have another mental-health disorder. Health
• Comment positively or negatively on the person’s
professionals recognize three different types of
body size or shape — it emphasizes the idea that
eating disorders: Anorexia nervosa, in which an
physical appearance is important to happiness
individual is underweight and using extreme
weight-loss strategies; bulimia nervosa, in which
• Argue or speak harshly.
an individual has recurrent and frequent epi-
• Criticize, blame or express disappointment or shock.
sodes of eating unusually large amounts of food,
• Say what they are doing is disgusting, stupid or
followed by a type of behavior that compensates
self-destructive. • Give simple solutions such as “all you have to do is eat.”
| Mental Health CPR |
for the binge, such as purging, fasting or excessive exercise; and eating disorders not otherwise specified (EDNOS), used for individuals who