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Supporting Someone Who Has an Eating Disorder


Topic Overview

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 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.

Related Information

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerW. Stewart Agras, MD - Psychiatry
Last RevisedAugust 25, 2011

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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