Bullying and eating disorders are often connected, with victims of bullying turning to – or away from – food as a coping mechanism. Bullying can cause feelings of shame, guilt, and worthlessness, which can lead to a distorted relationship with food and body image. In this article, we'll explore the link between bullying and eating disorders and provide tips for supporting those affected.
1. Emotional Trauma: Bullying can cause emotional trauma, which can lead to unhealthy eating behaviours to cope with the stress.
2. Body Image Distortion: Bullying can lead youth to have a negative or distorted image of their body, leading to a preoccupation with weight, food, and exercise.
3. Low Self-Esteem: Bullying can lower a youth’s self-esteem, which can lead them to pay less attention to self-care and disinterest in nourishing themselves in a healthy way.
4. Shame and Guilt: Victims of bullying may feel ashamed or guilty about what their bully has put them through, which can lead to an unnatural obsession to control their food intake.
1. Listen and Validate: Listen to bullying victims with empathy and understanding, and validate their feelings. Let them know that you believe them and that they are not alone.
2. Seek Professional Help: Seek professional help from a mental health professional or medical provider to help the bullying victim address the underlying emotional trauma and disordered eating behaviours.
3. Encourage Self-Care: Encourage the bullying victim to partake in activities that promote emotional well-being, such as exercise, hobbies, and spending time with friends.
4. Promote Positive Body Image: Help young bullying victims focus on their inner strengths and positive attributes, rather than obsessing over their physical appearance.
5. Address the Bullying Behaviour: If the victim is being bullied at school, talk with their teachers, principal or guidance counsellor about the issue. If possible, talk with the bully's parents, and work together to create a plan to prevent further bullying. BullyingCanada can also be of great support – encourage the young bullying victim to reach out, any time, any day.