1.Learn about the signs and symptoms of bulimia so that you can identify them properly. (See "Identify Bulimia," under Related Hows.) However, be careful not to overgeneralize, make assumptions or categorize a person.
2.Recognize that bulimia has serious health consequences and should not be considered "just a phase." Bulimia is a highly addictive cycle of unhealthy eating.
3.Listen with understanding, respect and sensitivity. The person suffering from bulimia probably needs your attention and support more than she would like to admit.
4.Be persistent and consistent in your approach. Be firm, but kind. Tough love is better than no love.
5.Be available to that person and let her know that you are there to help. A person may not want to talk immediately, but after reflection on the problem, she may want to come back to you.
6.Accompany the person to the doctor or help her make the initial phone call for help. Sometimes the first step toward seeking treatment is the hardest one.
7.Share your own struggles without dominating a conversation. Create a safe environment to share sensitive emotions by actively listening to the person.
8.Research a list of available resources for the person to seek professional advice. Consult local hospitals, doctors and the Internet for support groups and treatment centers.
9.Make sure you have a place to get support for yourself; helping someone else can be emotionally draining. You will need support from both friends and professionals who are experienced in eating disorder prevention.
Tips: Tell the person that you are concerned about her well-being and that you care about her. Stay positive and know that people do recover from eating disorders.
Do not accept excuses, no matter how good they sound. Do not be upset if a person denies there is a problem and expresses resentment toward you for sharing your concern. Instead, listen to that person with an open mind and approach her again later about the issue, perhaps with an ally or professional.
If symptoms persist or if you have specific medical conditions or concerns, we recommend you contact a physician. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment.