Community and Connection: Ways to Cope With Anxiety and Eating Disorder

Eating disorders like anorexia, binge eating, or bulimia prevent people from keeping a healthy weight or having a healthy relationship with food. 

Individuals with such conditions are not making poor lifestyle choices or being fussy—they are physically and mentally unwell. These people overeat or over-diet due to intense dissatisfaction with their bodies.

Eating disorders generally exist, along with anxiety disorders. For persons experiencing anxiety, an emerging eating disorder may worsen their symptoms. 

Seeing someone you love suffer from such disorders can be disturbing. You might have tried offering support to these family members or friends in the past, but they rejected it. 

But you shouldn’t give up. Researching these ailments can help dispel previous assumptions and plan a better approach to reaching out to your loved one.

In the end, you’ll be grateful that you took the time to think through the right questions and the lines to say. 

When the concerned person refuses to take calls or respond to online messages, letter-writing may help. You can visit this site to find the nearest post office location in your area. 

How can you effectively reach out to people with social anxiety and eating disorders? How are these two conditions related? What is the value of community and connection to individuals with anxiety and eating disorders?

Read on if you want to know some practical ways to help someone with anxiety and eating disorders. This article will also help you understand how these two conditions build on each other.

Ways You Can Help People Dealing With Anxiety and Eating Disorders

You can connect with your loved one more effectively by doing the following steps:

One of the popular myths is that genetics causes eating disorders. A person with an eating problem may have a family member who has the same issue. However, the condition is not hereditary. 

Messages and expectations from the family or being teased or bullied by others due to appearance are predictors of unhealthy approaches to nutrition.

“Picky eating habits are an eating disorder” is another myth. Eating disorders are more than just an extreme form of “careful eating.” People with disorders have a false perception of reality. 

For instance, people with avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder think food is dangerous as it may cause choking, illness, or allergies. 

Educate Yourself About Eating Disorders

The fact that you’re reading this article means that you’re on the right track. You can also visit the websites of medical institutions and support organizations to discover more about your loved one’s condition.

Mind the Way You Talk About Food and Body Image

Avoid talking about the person or other’s body size and eating. Comments such as “Wow, you’re getting two donuts?” can be triggering.

Also, be careful not to negatively describe your body in a way that will affect your family member’s self-image. Skip remarks such as “I feel so fat right now.”

At the same time, don’t make excuses for your loved one’s eating disorder in front of others.

Let Them Know You Are There

Your loved one’s acceptance of their problem can take time. Some people don’t see their disorder as a problem but as a way to cope with their feelings. Treatment and recovery might sound like losing one’s sense of control over these feelings.

Show utmost patience and understanding. You cannot force or persuade others to change their habits—such efforts might only make them feel more anxious. Let the other person know they can open up to you when ready. 

Find a Neutral Time

When the person agrees to talk about their eating problem, schedule your talk outside of mealtime—such occasions may be triggering. Moreover, choose to speak with the other person privately, somewhere with minimal distractions.

Express Your Concern in a Gentle, Non-judgmental Tone 

When you and your loved one finally sit down to talk, be gentle and avoid blaming or accusing. Remember that you’re not in a legal negotiation—don’t give ultimatums. 

Instead, let the person air their feelings. Ask your loved ones what they are thinking instead of making assumptions.

Ask How You Can Help

Ask your loved ones if they are willing to get help, and tell them how you can assist them. But remember not to push if they resist. has an online chat and text service. Meanwhile, the National Alliance for Eating Disorders’ website has a search tool for finding treatment centers or psychiatrists or psychotherapists near you.

Involve Them in Social Activities

You can arrange activities that don’t involve food, such as taking a walk, playing a game, or watching a film. 

These moments can ease overwhelming feelings and show your loved ones that you can be there without smothering them.

Eating disorders can start early in life. Children can discover that eating certain types of food lowers their anxiety. Food then becomes an outlet to relieve anxiety, even without physical hunger.

Thus as adults, some people turn to emotional eating to manage underlying emotional issues. 

According to the National Eating Disorders Collaboration, 55% to 97% of individuals with an eating disorder discover they have at least one psychiatric disorder upon a medical diagnosis. In particular, depression “co-occurs” with up to three-quarters of eating disorders.

Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash