Supporting a person with an eating disorder

When a loved one has an eating disorder such as anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating and is in treatment, you can show support by:

  • Showing and stating your love.
  • Avoiding the temptation to control the person.
  • Trusting that your loved one has developed his or her own high values, ideals, and standards.
  • Encouraging self-responsibility for his or her actions, both successes and setbacks.
  • Offering support during times of discouragement.

You can also help by:

  • Not watching or talking about how much he or she eats.
  • Not urging him or her to eat or not eat, unless this is part of the plan for treatment.
  • Avoiding comparisons with other people.
  • Listening to feelings.
  • Not allowing yourself to be controlled by his or her behavior.

If you struggle with handling your feelings and interactions with someone who has an eating disorder, talk with a health professional. Counseling, such as family therapy, can help you learn ways to encourage healthy eating behaviors in children and teens who have eating disorders.

Last Updated: September 16, 2009

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