Changing the Conversation About Eating Disorders

Part 1 covered the basics of symptoms and what an eating disorder is. One of the biggest challenges of having an eating disorder is finding the strength to seek treatment. This is difficult because factors like diet culture, social media, and your own self talk will try to convince you that you don’t have an eating disorder. There are common misconceptions that eating disorders are just a phase, a harmless diet, or something glamorous. These misconceptions disguise how harmful eating disorders are and can make it harder to seek treatment.

change the conversation about eating disorders

How can we change the conversation?

We need to change the conversation surrounding eating disorders. By dismissing food problems as a phase, fashion, or a plea for attention, we are silencing people who struggle with eating disorders. When people are silenced, it makes them less likely to reach out for help again. To encourage people to seek help, it is important that we recognize eating disorders as valid. Below are 6 ways to change the way we talk about eating disorders.

  • Never say to someone “you don’t look like you have an eating disorder.” It can be very triggering.
  • Telling someone to “Just eat” is not helpful. The road to recovery can be a lifelong process.
  • Don’t comment on someone’s weight gain or loss or depict either one as good or bad. Talking about weight and size can trigger an ED.
  • Instead of saying “he/she is anorexic/bulimic,” say “he/she has anorexia/bulimia.” This language separates the illness from the person and allows them to have an identity without their disorder.
  • Know that regaining weight does not mean that someone is automatically recovered and will never have problems with food again. Recovery isn’t linear and the underlying issues may still be at play.
  • Never tell someone “I wish I was as skinny as you” or “you’re so skinny, you have nothing to worry about.” Skinny does not equal healthy or happy. People with an ED are often miserable no matter what size they are. An ED doesn’t let you be happy.


If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder call (800) 931-2237 or text “NEDA” to 741741.

If you are seeking treatment, the Guided Resources tool can help you find a therapist or help you explore other treatment options.

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