If you are worried about a friend because of his/her eating pattern, sudden or chronic weight loss or gain you can help by taking the following steps:
**Talk with them in a private place**
Use I-messages: When talking to a friend use I-messages, such as: "I am concerned at how tired you are looking." "I was surprised that you didn't eat much at lunch today, are you feeling ill?"
Discuss your concerns with a professional: Staff from the health or counseling center, health education, or the nutritionist, can give you valuable information about eating issues and can help you evaluate the situation and give resources that will be most helpful for your friend. If you live on campus you can always talk to your RA or RD. They can also help you to approach and talk to your friend about your concerns, and to be able to get your friend the help and resources they need.
Talk to your friend: Talk with him/her in a quiet, private setting and be respectful, empathetic, and compassionate. Be specific and concrete about what behaviors are of concern to you. Focus on your concerns about your friend's health, not weight or appearance. If your friend is able to acknowledge there is a problem, suggest some resources.
Realize your friend may deny that they have a problem: It is still important for him/her to hear your concerns
Don't try to control your friend's eating by bringing them food, badgering or ridiculing them to eat. This will only damage your friendship, and will probably not help their eating issues.
Remember that you are not responsible for curing your friend's problem with food. Your friend will need to do that for themselves with the help of a professional.
Remember your role as a friend is to give your friend resources and encourage them get the help they need.
Resources for Students with Eating Issues and Students Who Have Concerns about Body Image
- Counseling Center 617-521-2455
- Health Center 617-521-1020
- Nutritionist 617-521-1298
- EAT @ Simmons Peer Education Program 617-521-1001, Health Education 617-521-1001, Body Image Support 617-521-1001
Safe Weight Loss Includes:
Change the diet thinking: diets deprive people of needed calories and essential nutrients. These calories and nutrients (vitamins & minerals) fuel the brain and muscles during exercise. Many diets also deprive the person of their favorite foods and beverages.
Gradual weight loss should not exceed 1 to 2 pounds per week. A slow weight loss will result in permanent weight loss.
Try not to become obsessed with total body weight. When a person exercises and lifts weights while trying to lose weight, they gain lean body weight or muscle and lose body fat, but their overall body weight may remain the same.
Not everyone can be trim and lean like a ballerina or a body builder. A person needs to accept the "genes" they received. All the dieting in the world won't change a person's genetic make-up.
Set realistic and attainable long-term weight management goals.
Diet pills, frozen entrees, and liquid diets are not the answer to safe and effective permanent weight loss. Rather, nutrition education, changes in lifestyle, and increased activity level will result in permanent weight loss and improved health.
If you, or a friend, would like to be more aware of your eating patterns, observe:
What you eat: select nutrient dense high carbohydrate, low-fat foods instead of "empty calorie" and high fat foods.
When you eat: eat 3-5 small meals throughout the day and always eat breakfast; avoid eating 3 hours before bedtime.
Where you eat: eat in a stress free and relaxed environment, this will allow a person to eat slowly and enjoy the meal.
Why you eat: eat because you are hungry not because you are bored, stressed, or lonely.
Be patient. Weight gain happens over a period of time; therefore it takes some time to lose weight.
For more information, or to schedule an EAT at Simmons peer education program for your Hall contact firstname.lastname@example.org or Angelina Moore, RD
References: Wierman, T., Eat To Compete: An Athletes Sports Nutrition Program Nutrition Education Services, West Chester, PA (1993), and Middlebury College