…when talking to someone with an eating disorder.

When someone has an eating disorder, compliments that are well intended can be triggering, and have unintended consequences.

Here are some alternatives to use.

When you say

 “You look so well!”

The eating disorder says…

“If I look well, I am healthy.  I am not sick enough.  I am undeserving of recovery.  I am a failure.”


Instead, try saying

“It is so lovely to see you again!” Or “I have missed you so much!”


“Being around you brings me so much joy!”.

When You say…

“Oh, are you struggling?  But you look so healthy!”

The eating disorder says

“You are not sick enough.  You do not deserve recovery.  You aren’t really struggling.  You are weak.  Your feelings are invalid.”

Instead, try these…

“I am so sorry to hear you have been having such a hard time.  I am here for you.”

“I hear how much you are hurting and I wish I could take away the pain you are in.”

“I won’t leave you to bear this alone”

When you say

“I wish I looked like you!”

The eating disorder says

“Stay here.  Stay sick.  If you recover you may look different and no one will like you or accept you.  You can never recover.”

Instead, try these…

“You are wonderful to be around!” 

“I love spending time with you!” 

“It feels warm to be with you”.

There are many different ways to rephrase our everyday communication…take a minute to think about what you are saying, and know that doing so will make a big difference to someone.

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