How to be a friend to a bulimic
Eating disorders are not only a challenge for the patient, but they can also be difficult for friends and family members to cope with as well.
In order to be a friend to a bulimic, it's important to educate yourself about the disease and to learn how to give healthy, positive support to the person you care about. While you can't fix the problem for your friend, you can be a source of love and compassion during a time that this person needs it the most.
Talk about your concerns
If your friend hasn't come to terms with the fact that she has bulimia, approach her when you can talk without distractions. Express your concerns in a non-judgmental manner, explaining that you're worried about her behavior. Give her the opportunity to talk openly about her struggles and make it clear that you will be there to support her during the process of recovery.
Just being a friend with an open ear can be enough of a catalyst for this person to finally seek help. If you feel comfortable, you might even provide her with the name of a good counselor or recovery program in your area. Just make sure you aren't forcing anything on her – the decision to get well is entirely in her hands.
Be sensitive during social outings
A bulimic – whether in recovery or not – is going to be highly sensitive to social outings that are food-centered or involve eating. Until she is comfortable in these settings, suggest social events that don't involve food, like taking a walk, seeing a movie or going shopping. If a food-centered social event, like a wedding or a holiday party, presents a challenge for a bulimic in recovery, offer to be her support person at that event.
Don't shame or blame
People with bulimia often struggle with strong feelings of shame. Do your best not to criticize this person's body or her eating habits. Telling her that she just needs to stop her behavior won't be helpful, and it might even strain your friendship. Be as positive and encouraging as you can, knowing that she has a condition that makes it extremely difficult to be self-confident. A guilt trip is the last thing she needs.
Ask how you can help
The simple act of asking how you can support and help your friend will go a long way. Maybe she just appreciates the chance to talk about her feelings, or maybe she needs assistance in reaching out for professional help. Offer to do what you can while she is in recovery, knowing that it will probably be a long and difficult road.