Anorexia, bulmia, and binge/compulsive eating are increasingly prevalent and someone you care about may be suffering from one of these eating disorders (usually people who have an ED participate in more than 1 behavior).
Whether you’ve watched your wife struggle with an eating disorder for months or years, seeing someone you love suffer is difficult. You may feel helpless if your spouse is struggling with disordered eating and not want to cause problems in your marriage by bringing it up.
The side effects of anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder can be severe. They can lead to heart problems, dehydration, malnutrition and, in some cases, even death.
While it can be difficult to help your wife admit to having an eating disorder and seek recovery, the alternative is devastating. Here are five things you can do to help your wife recover from an eating disorder.
1. Get Educated
Just because your wife watches what she eats and exercises frequently, it doesn’t necessarily mean she has an eating disorder. Take time to do research on the symptoms of anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder to see if any of them match your wife’s behaviors. Preparing yourself with symptoms, statistics, side effects and treatment options can make it easier for you to talk with your wife when you finally decide to.
2. Don’t Be Accusatory
Never corner your wife and accuse her of having an eating disorder, no matter how scared you are for her health. Find an appropriate time to discuss your concerns with your wife, letting her know what behaviors you have witnessed and why you think she may have an eating disorder. Ask open-ended questions and be supportive so that she knows you are genuinely concerned.
3. Offer Support
It can be scary for anyone to admit they have an eating disorder, especially since there is usually an underlying emotional issue or trauma at the root of it. Your wife may deny having a problem or be upset that you thought she does, but stress to her that you are there to help her, no matter what. Let her know that her having an eating disorder won’t affect your marriage, and that you are willing to participate in any necessary counseling to help her through it.
4. Know the Treatment Options
Eating disorder treatment is done through a therapist who specializes in eating disorders, outpatient therapy or a residential treatment center for eating disorders. With each type of treatment, your wife will address the issues that are at the root of her disorder and learn healthier coping mechanisms. Treatment may involve individual therapy, group therapy, meetings with a nutritionist and meal outings.
5. Be Patient
It’s hard watching someone you love suffer, and you likely want the problem to resolve itself immediately. But it may take your wife some time to even admit to having an eating disorder. Once she does, treatment for an eating disorder is an intensive process that doesn’t happen overnight. At any stage in the process, it’s important to be patient. With the necessary support and the right kind of treatment, your wife will be able to make a successful long-term recovery from her eating disorder.