Family and friends

This page contains resources and information for family members and friends of people with eating disorders.

Having a family or friend with an eating disorder, can be incredibly stressful and exhausting. Feeling frustrated, angry, upset and helpless is all part of the process.

Tips for family members and friends

  • Don't be the food police. Getting involved in discussions about how much someone has eaten, or whether or not they have purged, tends to just lead to arguments that can make an already difficult situation worse.
  • Encourage treatment. Getting professional treatment for an eating disorder is an essential part of the recovery process. Encourage your friend or family member to get treatment and help them to find resources so that they can make a treatment choice.
  • Provide support, rather than criticism. Criticising someone who has an eating disorder can end up making things worse. Rather, try and encourage the person to discuss any problems or concerns they may have with you, and really listen to what they have to say. Providing an emotionally supportive environment is a good way to assist in the recovery process. However, that doesn't mean supporting eating disordered behaviour.


  • Parent's guide to anorexia from Child magazine, with comment from psychologist, Althea Sherry
  • Protect your teen from eating disorders - Worried about eating disorders in your family? Read up on how to facilitate a healthy family lifestyle and promote wellness in your teen.
  • How to help someone with an eating disorder