The Emily Program Guide For Family & Friends
15 Tips For Supporting Someone You Care About
How should you approach someone you care about who is struggling with eating disorder symptoms? You may worry that you won’t “do it right.” However, you are very important to her/him and her/his recovery! The following tips may help you keep perspective and provide needed support to your loved one:
- Remember, eating disorders are illnesses. You didn’t cause the eating disorder.
- Accept your limitations; e.g., you can’t make her/him want to get better.
- Accept the person for who she/he is. Remember that she/he is an individual; she/he is not her/his eating disorder.
- Be sensitive and be firm.
- Compliment strengths that have nothing to do with appearance, eating, or food.
- Seek support for yourself.
- Respect how and where your loved one wants her/his eating disorder discussed. You absolutely need and deserve support, and you can get it while also honoring her/his need for confidentiality.
- Ask your loved one how you can support her/his meal plan.
- Plan non-food related activities for the times right after meals, to help redirect attention and energy. Focus on the other things in life, not just discussions of weight, eating, exercise, and food.
- Be a good role model when discussing food, body, and weight—your own and others’.
- Set an example: participate in family therapy (if recommended), talk openly about your feelings, and actively identify and resolve problems.
- Know your health insurance, because you may need to advocate for coverage.
- Listen to your loved one; she/he needs to speak for herself/himself.
- Convey that you believe in her/him. Your support is invaluable to your loved one.
- Recognize that recovery is a process. It takes time; it’s seldom logical or linear.
Eating Disorder Quiz
Considering treatment for an eating disorder? Concerned that your loved one needs eating disorder treatment? Take the first step now. Answer a few questions and reflect on your responses. Take the quiz.
Disorders We Treat
The Emily Program offers proven and personalized treatment for all types of eating disorders. Regardless of your age or gender, The Emily Program has experience with all kinds of eating disorders. Learn more.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Emily Program is here to answer any questions you have about eating disorders and the recovery journey. We want to help. Read the FAQ now.