Many loved ones and friends often struggle with knowing what to say to someone who is struggling with an eating disorder. Eating disorders are very complex and they cannot be ignored.

Recovery from an eating disorder begins once it is identified and the underlying issues that drive the eating disorder are addressed and the person finds healthier ways to cope.

Here are a few tips to help support someone who is struggling with an eating disorder:

  • DO try to listen and support your loved one in making appropriate decisions that help them recover or stay recovery focused.

  • DO ask questions, LISTEN and express your concerns.

  • DO know that the nature of an eating disorder is secretive.

  • DO understand they will have ambivalence about recovery.

  • DO as a caretaker or supportive friend, take care of yourself and find time to speak to someone professionally if you also need an outlet.

Although many people have great intentions of helping someone recovering from an eating disorder, here are a few tips to try and not engage in:

  • DON’T every give up on them. The person has to want recovery for themselves.

  • DON’T threaten your loved one or bribe. For example, “If you gain “x” amount of weight, we will buy you a new car.” Natural consequences are ok. For example, “You won’t be able to play soccer if you aren’t medically stable.”

  • DON’T comment on their weight ever!

  • DON’T try and sneak extra foods into their diets or be manipulative with their food.

  • DON’T try and “fix” the issue. Remember recovery is a process and it takes time.

  • DON’T blame yourself, have guilt on what may have caused the eating disorder

Click here for more content by Lindsey McKeon, RD, LDN, MA!

Lindsey McKeon, RD, LDN, MA
Lindsey is passionate about living and advising others on healthy lifestyle choices, eating habits and teaches others about finding balance in their lives. She devotes considerable time to continuing education in the area of eating disorders diabetes, weight management and any other eating problems. Lindsey is very comfortable working with patients on a personal level, group setting, working with family members or which ever meets the client’s specific needs. Lindsey believes in providing a safe and nurturing environment in which individuals will learn healthier eating habits and new behaviors to heal.


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