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

Self-evaluation for Depression

Self-Evaluation for Depression

The following self-evaluation is provided to help assess whether you may be suffering from depression.

Have you recently experienced a depressed mood (feeling sad or empty) most of the day, nearly every day? (Note: In children and adolescents, mood can appear more irritable than depressed.)

Have you recently experienced a loss of interest or pleasure in your usual activities?

Have you recently experienced significant weight gain or weight loss when not dieting? (Note: In children, consider failure to make expected weight gains.)

Have you recently experienced insomnia or other sleep disturbances?

Have you recently experienced either hyperactive (restless) behavior or slowed behavior, which is observable by others?

Have you recently felt fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day?

Have you recently experienced feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day?

Has your ability to think, concentrate, or make decisions been diminished nearly every day recently?

Have you recently experienced recurrent thoughts of death or suicide?

Depression is defined as an emotional disorder characterized by feelings of persistent sadness, guilt, worthlessness, or dejection; loss of hope; loss of interest in usual activities; or an inability to concentrate. Depression affects both sexes and impacts many Americans some time during their lives. Depression can be caused by severe stress or loss or by genetic, physical, social, and psychological factors.

Sometimes depression is preventable with healthy stress management skills; regular exercise; good eating and sleeping habits; and avoiding the overuse of alcohol, drugs, and caffeine. When depression cannot be prevented, professional treatment can provide relief, bring joy and fulfillment back to life, and prevent recurrences.