Family Support Guidelines When Your Loved One Has An Eating Disorder


This goes out to the person who has intense anxiety around the thought of eating at a restaurant, and paints on a false smile, while underneath is frantically tallying calorie counts in your head. You wish you could just “eat normally,” yet it feels like your list of “food rules” is getting increasingly more strict. — Jennifer Rollin MSW, LCSW-C

Having a loved one or a family member who is suffering from an eating disorder can be heart-breaking. It will not only affect the person but everyone in the family as well. It can cause stress, confusion and even emotional meltdown thus; you need to be guided accordingly on how to handle a person who has this kind of condition.

There Are No Easy Answers

If you want full recovery, then you need to be ready for it. The road towards recovery may be long, and there is usually no shortcuts. Thus the person with the disorder and the people around him must be well guided accordingly so that support would be given. For more guidance, get professional help.

Not All Questions Can Be Answered

Everything about an eating disorder is unpredictable. So expect that not all your questions can be answered. Thus, resort to other resources like books, online references, get involved into groups and so many more just to be educated with this kind of disorder.

Be Supportive

Give your 100 percent support and empathy to your loved one suffering from an eating disorder. This support goes with affirm hand that he should follow the rules just to get over the disorder.

Talk To The Therapist If You Have Concerns

If you have apprehensions when it comes to the diet, food, weight loss, and other related concerns, don’t address that to the person with the disorder but to the therapist of your loved one. The professional can give more accurate answers.

When in the grips of an eating disorder, the sooner one gets helps, the better the chances of recovery and the less disrupted her physical and emotional growth will be. — Lauren Grunebaum L.C.S.W.

Acknowledge And Understand Some Behaviors Of Your Loved One

If the person with the eating disorder has some moments that involved his behavior, be there for him. Hear him out and try to understand his concerns no matter what.


Take Care Of Yourself As Well

Do not allow the disorder to be your world. It may be an issue, but it should not take over your life. Allow yourself to focus on other things as well.

Show That You Are Not A Controlling Loved One

You should allow the person with the eating disorder to stand by his word and take control of the situation.

Be More Expressive

If you feel hopeless, frustrated and even angry, don’t pin it up to yourself but instead express it openly. Share it with your family so that they will understand you as well.

You And The Rest Of The Family Must Be On The Same Page

Make your concerns and apprehensions by known to others. Do not make any secrets so that everything would be transparent. This way, you would know that you and the others are on the same road or line of understanding in a specific aspect.

Be Considerate

In whatever topic you are discussing or topic being talked about, make sure that you have the consideration to the person with an eating disorder. Avoid lines and phrases that will alter her perception and would change his recovery path because of what you just said.

Acknowledge The Milestones

Making the person with an eating disorder know that you are happy and proud of his achievements in getting over the disorder is very important. This will not only affirm their choice of getting better and will tell them that they are doing the recovery plan the right way.

Seeking social connection makes people feel good and humanizes their experience to make them realize that everyone goes through difficult moments. — Greta Gleissner LCSW

No To Power Struggles On Weight Gain

In the way to recover, it does not mean you have to put rigid rules. Relax and allow some “cheat” moments. This will lessen the deprivation feeling the person with an eating disorder would feel inside. Allow a little enjoyment in the recovery plan to make it more fun.


Don’t Play The Blame Game

Don’t blame the person with an eating disorder with the current situation your family is having. The welfare of the family doesn’t rely on the disorder, but on how the family will survive it. If the person with an eating disorder were to choose, he wouldn’t want to be in that kind of situation either.

Show That You Are Always Available

Being in a disorder problem can be tough. Aside from the physical pain, the emotional turmoil can be even more painful. That is why they need all the support they need from their family. With this, by just making yourself always available for the person with the eating disorder is already a big help. There are times wherein a person only needs someone to hear them out.

Don’t Ask Certain Things

Asking if they are better already can mislead the person with an eating disorder too so many ways. They may interpret it as you are hurrying them up to get better or you are already fed up in dealing with him. Be tactful and think before you say something. Sometimes, other people’s words can do more harm than physical assault.

Be Considerate To Your Love One On The Perceived “Safe” Rituals

Develop a coping mechanism to understand the odd rituals your loved one is probably doing just to recover from an eating disorder. Do not judge, assess silently. If it does not harm the person then let him have it for it serves as his comfort but if not then you should then speak out.