Eating Disorder Support Recommendations for Parents

Visit National Eating Disorder Association site for more:


  • Support your son/daughter with seeking professional help!
  • Educate yourself on eating disorders; learn the jargon
  • Learn the differences between facts and myths about weight, nutrition, and exercise
  • Ask what you can do to help
  • Listen openly and reflectively
  • Be patient and nonjudgmental
  • Talk with the person in a kind way when you are calm and not angry, frustrated, or upset
  • Have compassion when the person brings up painful issues about underlying problems
  • Let him/her know you only want the best for him/her
  • Remind the person that he/she has people who care and support him/her
  • Suggest professional help in a gentle way
  • Offer to go along
  • Be flexible and open with your support
  • Be honest
  • Compliment the person’s personality, successes, and accomplishments
  • Encourage all activities suggested by the treating care team, such as keeping appointments and medication compliance
  • Encourage social activities that don’t involve food
  • Encourage the person to buy foods that he/she will want to eat (as opposed to only “healthy” foods)
  • Help the person to be patient
  • Help with the person’s household chores (e.g., laundry, cleaning) as needed
  • Remember: recovery takes time and food may always be a difficult issue
  • Remember: recovery work is up to the affected person
  • Show care, concern, and understanding
  • Ask how he/she is feeling
  • Try to be a good role model
  • Understand that the person is not looking for attention or pity


  •  Accuse or cause feelings of guilt
  •  Invade privacy and contact the patient’s doctors or others to check up behind his/her back
  • Demand weight changes (even if clinically necessary for health)
  • Insist the person eat every type of food at the table
  •  Invite the person out for social occasions where the main focus is food
  • Invite the person to go clothes shopping
  • Make eating, food, clothes, or appearance the focus of conversation
  • Make promises or rules you cannot or will not follow (e.g., promising not to tell anyone)
  • Threaten (e.g., if you do this once more I’ll…)
  • Offer more help than you are qualified to give
  • Create guilt or place blame on the person
  • Put timetables on recovery
  •  Take the person’s actions personally
  • Try to change the person’s attitudes about eating or nag about food
  • Try to control the person’s life
  • Use scare tactics to get the person into treatment, but do call 911 if you believe the person’s condition is life-threatening
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