How to Talk to a Friend About Eating Disorders

This excerpt is adapted from The Brave Athlete by Dr. Simon Marshall and Lesley Paterson. Their cutting-edge brain training guide solves the 13 most common mental conundrums athletes face in their everyday training and in races. With The Brave Athlete, you can solve these problems to become mentally strong and make your brain your most powerful asset.

What to do if you suspect a friend has an eating disorder 

Many people are reluctant to voice their concerns about people’s eating habits for fear of being offensive or causing embarrassment. Get over it. However, before you share your concerns, take some time to educate yourself about the illness and to learn how to have difficult and awkward conversations. Remember, an eating disorder is a coping mechanism, and denial is the psychological defense. For this reason, you need to be prepared for resistance. Although you cannot force someone to change or get help, you can share your honest concerns, provide support, and tell them where they can get proper help. As with all sensitive topics, the language you use is really important. Our cheat sheet below will keep you from sounding like a judgmental old nag.

It’s never easy to talk about intensely private, awkward, or embarrassing stuff. It goes without saying that it’s important to have these conversations in a private and quiet environment. 

The Brave Athlete by Simon Marshall and Lesley Paterson TBA how to talk about eating disorders chart 800x1200

Of course it’s awkward and makes you both feel uncomfortable. But try to look past that. If you think that nothing you say is getting through, you could even have this same conversation with your friend’s loved ones. Sometimes it can help just to corroborate your concern. 

The Brave Athlete goes into more detail on the negative thoughts and feelings many athletes have in regards to body image and food, and it offers a few simple self-help strategies to minimize the mental obstacle fat feelings may cause.

The Brave Athlete solves the 13 most common mental conundrums athletes face in their everyday training and in races. Dr. Simon Marshall and Lesley Paterson will help you take control of your brain so you can train harder, race faster, and better enjoy your sport.

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