Supporting Someone with an Eating Disorder

Many of our callers at ABC need support from family and friends as well as professionals . Knowing how to provide that support is not at all easy when you are deeply worried and concerned.

One of the key elements of support is to communicate that you are not judging that person and that they have your unconditional love. Even if this is not acknowledged or seemingly accepted at the time, is will be absorbed and they will benefit from being reminded of it.

It is incredibly hard to understand what it must be like to be in the grip of an eating disorder and some of our family and friends callers struggle to know how to get the sufferer to seek help. The refusal to acknowledge that there is a problem at all is common and can be due to fear and shame. It can be useful to address the issues by admitting that you are worried about them as they do not seem happy and check if there is anything they want to discuss, this may at least begin to open the channels of communication. Be gentle and calm when you have this conversation, instead of focusing on weight or appearance, perhaps try discussing health, relationships and mood. Treatment of eating disorders does require specialist support so that message needs to be repeated and encouraged .Sometimes it can be useful to offer to go with the person to see the GP or counsellor (even if they just want you just wait outside).

We know at ABC that the sooner anyone seeks help with an eating disorder the better the outcome , so if you are worried about a family member, friend or colleague and do not know what to do, or you yourself need a chance to talk and need support , please feel free to call our helpline at ABC on 0300 11 12 13 , choosing option 2 "Family and Friends". The lines are open Mon-Fri from 9 -5pm. You can also email us at


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