National Eating Disorders Association

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Sibling Relationships

When I was going through treatment, my brother was one of my biggest supporters. It's funny because we didn't really have a close relationship prior to my diagnosis. I'm curious to hear others' stories about how relationships changed during the struggle/recovery from an ED.

Sibling Relationships

Hi eghall,

Siblings can definitely be a huge help when you're in recovery from an ED. Whereas the support that comes from your parents may be more related to your habits and daily behavior, the support from a sibling can fall more under the friend category, and they're often more inclined to listen and offer support. It's so great that your brother was there for you during your recovery!


I had kind of the opposite

I had kind of the opposite experience. My sisters were more about trying to get me to eat and not engage in behaviors and my mom was more or a friend and supporter. My siblings kind of drove me nuts.


When getting recovery from an ED, it is so hard to tell how your sibling is going to react because even if you may not realize it, the situation is difficult on them as well. I'm so glad that you had a good experience. Family is one of the biggest sources of support when it comes to recovery.

For myself, I had a mix of relationships throughout recovery. At first my brother kept his distance from me, then he became very mad. He was mad about the disease that took over my life. It took me time to realize that he too struggled through my recovery. I was once a happy, outgoing young woman and then I turned into a depressed, frail, dying little girl. Now that I am fully recovered, my brother and I have a strong relationship and we both respect each other for what we went through.

I am thankful that my sister was always a strong supporter. She was away at college for a majority of my recovery but I would always get calls and texts from her telling her that she loves me and is proud of me. It meant the world to me.

You and your brother sound like you have an amazing relationship now and that is definitely something you should be thankful for. Stay strong!


I helped my sister begin recovery process

My sister has had an eating disorder for over 20 years. We are extremely close in age and I've been the most proactive in my family mostly because I've taken the time to understand her illness. I think our relationship has allowed her to be completely honest with me and she knows that I don't judge her in any way. My sister says it is easier for her to be open with me because we are family and closer in age and feel it has allowed me several openings to push her to the level of care she needs.

My sister is still struggling every day, but I know that keeping quiet about her illness was not the right thing to do. All of our family knows now and I just passed out NEDA brochures to 5 members of our family who just learned how severe her illness is. I continue to have tough conversations with my sister about about getting the care she needs or helping family members understand her illness, but she is the one doing the really hard work.

I took my sister to a therapy session with me to talk about treatment options about 4 years ago. She barely spoke to me after the session and insisted she did not need that kind of help. Two days later she called me crying saying she couldn't go one more day… We immediately put together a plan for her to go into treatment. She is currently in outpatient and would love to hear if there are other siblings out there who have experience with residential treatment who would like to share their experience supporting their siblings in that environment.


Siblings relationship

That is really nice to hear. Usually, siblings affection will be unveiled at times. If the other sibling faces any problem, then the sibling will come to know the actual character of the sibling.

I think my brother is developing an eating disorder

Some months ago I myself developed an eating disorder, I lost weight but gained it back with binging and fell into bulimia, i havent lost any weight since.

I beleive that my triggers involved: watching my mom struggle with dieting and BED, being bullied as a kid, accidentally losing weight, and feeling in control when I restrict.

But lately I've noticed my brother not eating barely anything! He always skips breakfast barely eats a lunch, snacks quite a bit in the afternoon, then never finishes his dinner. And he turns down things I know he loves. And just today my mom was yelling at him how he needs to eat. I plan to talk to him about it but I know he's just going to shrug it off and say hes just not hungry. I also noticed he likes talking about nutrition facts and weighs himself whever he gets the chance (not often). He's only eleven years old and I'm so scared i triggered him :(

re: I think my brother is developing an eating disorder

Hey _sheridan--welcome to the forums. I'm glad you're reaching out for support. I know this post is primarily about your concern for your brother, but I did want to ask how you're doing with your own eating struggles? Are you still using ED symptoms? It sounds like you have a good grasp on your personal triggers, and maybe there's some overlap there with your brother as well. Is there anyone you can talk to about your ED struggles? Are you currently seeing a therapist?

As for your brother, I'm so sorry--it must feel really confusing and helpless to watch him going through all that, especially when it sounds like you've experienced such similar behaviors yourself. Have you talked to your mom or your brother about any of your concerns?

Above all, please be gentle with yourself when you're questioning whether you've been a trigger for your brother. ED triggers are so complicated person to person, and they get even messier when you're talking about family members who start exhibiting ED behaviors. My sister and I both developed EDs after we had already moved away from the home we shared as kids/teens, but it was always (and remains) a very delicate conversation because there's just so much going on there. Between environmental and genetic factors alone, though, it sounds like there's definitely plenty of stuff that could have contributed to ED behaviors in your brother without blaming yourself for causing them.

I also wanted to share some resources that I think might be helpful for both you and your brother:

General information about EDs:

ED screening tool:

Parent Toolkit (not just for parents! Lots of great info for anyone who has a friend or loved one struggling with ED):

Helpful resources if you need to talk to someone in real time:

Please keep us posted. We're here for you!


Pretty much whenever my sister engages in eating disordered behaviors it causes huge arguments, because she is incredibly competitive with me b/c we are twins. ☹️☹️


There certainly can be what seems like a competitive aspect to EDs sometimes. I'm not sure if your sister would see it that way though : If you are smaller than her, then that alone could be driving her crazy, particularly if she is in the early stages of her ED. And then all the arguments, because you guys "just don't get it" about why she *must* push forward with this !

As things progress with her ED, for most people their attitudes begin to change, and they start to gain some perspective on the situation they've gotten themselves into.

But as you are seeing, people with EDs can find themselves in some pretty deep craziness too.

I believe that siblings are

I believe that siblings are the great gifts given by God to humans. They are like partners in crime and always make the moment special by their presence. I am very lucky that I have so loving siblings.