MARLO THOMAS
09/21/2015 01:57 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

How To Help A Loved One With An Eating Disorder

Eating correctly is hard for all of us, but for some, the struggle is deadly. Severe over-eating or under-eating may lead to an eating disorder, a disease many of us have experience with, even if it is rarely diagnosed. We were so grateful to have Dr. Allegra Broft, a psychiatrist and professor at Columbia, on the show to educate us on the various types of eating disorders, and to let us know what we can do if a loved one needs help.

Hard to let go
If you know a loved one who may be struggling with an eating disorder, it can be difficult to know what to do. "People with eating disorders can be secretive," says Allegra. Unlike other, more fully negative psychological problems, a person with anorexia, for example, "may not be ready to let it go," as they may be content with their current, if troubled, body image.

Say Something
If you're debating whether or not to say anything, Allegra thinks you should "err on the side of trying to say something". An "expression of concern is important," she says, but it's also critical to approach cautiously. When dealing with someone close to you, it's important to not express anger or defensiveness; instead, approach from "a neutral stance." "If you're a parent to someone who's experiencing eating issues, it can feel like it's your fault," said Allegra. Distance yourself from the emotional response, for a better chance at figuring out what's going on with your loved one. While it may be difficult in the moment, Dr. Broft insists that they will "thank you down the road."

Click here to check out the rest of my interview with Dr. Allegra Broft.

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