Katie Brooks Says...
I'm glad you wrote. Eating disordered behaviors, like restricting and throwing up, have a lot to do with unprocessed negative emotions and, in this case, self-esteem. It seems to me that your friend had hurt feelings with her sister, which triggered insecurity. She chose to cope with those feelings of insecurity by using unhealthy coping methods. In regards to helping her, I'm not sure exercising with her would send her the right message right now. I think it might validate that she is fat and that she needs to do something to fix it. Sometimes exercising can become part of an eating disorder as well. Even though it is healthy to exercise, it can be done to excess if it is done for the wrong reasons. For instance, if my self-esteem is low and I am trying to lift it by exercising, then my self-esteem will be contingent upon being thin. I will never learn how to love myself unconditionally.
I believe that it would be more loving for you to help your friend cope with the hurt feelings. Send her the message that she is beautiful inside and out and that she does not need to change a thing in order to be loved by herself or anyone else. Help her to stick up for herself by encouraging her to ask her sister not to call her fat because it is hurtful. Teach her to love herself and her body by striving for health rather than being thin. Tell her that she will feel better if she was eating healthy foods regularly and staying active. In addition, teach her that purging and restricting will not bring her health and wellness.. it will only bring more pain and stack a problem on top of a problem. I hope this was helpful. If you have any more questions please contact me at goodtherapysandiego.com.
Katie Brooks, LCSW
Director of Good Therapy San DIego
Page last updated Nov 24, 2014