(Including Anorexia and Bulimia)
Tips for Friends and Family of Someone with an Eating Disorder
In the Eating Disorders Series:
- An Introduction to Eating Disorders
- Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa
- Symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa
- Symptoms of Binge Eating
- Treatment of Eating Disorders
- Tips for Friends & Family
- Further Information
Accept that there are no quick easy solutions for recovery from an eating disorder. Therapists, physicians and other experts have no magic cure. If your loved one is to get lasting recovery, she needs to make changes in her attitude and behaviors. These changes take time. You cannot make them for her. However, you and family and friends need to make changes to accommodate her growth. Work with your loved one and his/her therapist to find out what these changes involve. Intervention may be one of the most difficult things you do within the course of a relationship. Do not expect that your loved one will be open, cooperative nor grateful to your intervention. Gratitude sometimes comes later.
Once your loved one or friend is in therapy, avoid getting into discussions or arguments about weight and food. If you become concerned about weight loss, dehydration or other signs of medical jeopardy, call the therapist, MD or both.
Verbally and physically express love and affection for her. Do NOT tie your caring to sermons about eating or demands for weight gain. Admit that at times you feel angry and frustrated, helpless, powerless and enraged. Let her see that having these feelings does not take away from your love for her
Practice good sense. Do not diet. It is very difficult to help the person with the eating disorder to develop healthy attitudes about weight loss and thinness when others around are reinforcing the importance of weight loss.
Avoid power struggles
Recognize that individuals with eating disorders are usually quite ambivalent about getting well. At times they may want recovery, and other times they may want to retreat into the safety and security of their rituals.
- Take one of our free online quizzes: Quick Eating Disorder Screening or the longer Eating Attitudes Test
- Detailed diagnostic Anorexia, Bulimia, and Binge Eating Symptoms
- Learn more about the Treatment Options available for Eating Disorders
- Need more help or information? Check out our reviewed listing of Online Resources
- Join Psych Central's own Eating Disorder Online Support Group
- Read the latest News & Research on Eating Disorders
- Health Consequences of Eating Disorders
- Back to the Eating Disorders Introduction
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 26 May 2013
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.