National Eating Disorders Association

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How do I help my 17 yr old with Bulimia?

How do I help my 17 yr old with Bulimia?
I am reaching out to anyone who is going through this, has gone through this as a parent or has been through this as a child. I just confirmed a week ago that my daughter has been bingeing and purging. I have suspected for several mths and asked her and she denied every time. After finding evidence of her behaviors she had no way to deny it. The steps we have taken is that she has seen a Psychologist who specializes in eating disorders and we will be going once a week. We have an appointment next week to see a regular doctor for her to get a physical to see where she is right now. She wants help. I guess I just don't really know how to handle this. Her school work is suffering badly and I don't know how much emphasis to put on that either. I don't want to cause her to show any more eating disorder symptoms than she already has. She also agreed that when she does eat with us I will stay with her for a little while after she is done eating to supervise her and make sure she is not displaying eating disorder behaviors. This is all so new and it is such a delicate subject I don't know how to act. I know I am going to have to use some tough love, I would imagine. I know she is probably, at times, going to be very angry with me. I would love to hear from anyone who has been through this. I always said I felt so lucky because I never had trouble with my daughter and she never got into drugs or anything... it's so hard to watch your child suffer. Maybe I need a meal plan.... I don't know. I can force feed her and I can't make her eat food she doesn't want to eat. I don't know how to encourage this without making her feel bad about this. I don't want that. I don't think any differently of her and I am not judging her for this. I just want to help and I want her to be safe, happy and healthy! Please help! Thanks in advance!

PS - My daughter told me she has been doing this on/off for a while now, but has been doing this consistently recently.

PLease help!!!

Please someone can you please help me help my daughter. I don't know what to do! I don't want to make things worse by taking too much control and having her shut down or rebel against what I am trying to do, which is help her. Keeping her at home, planning her meals, having her friends come to the house instead of her going to see them.... this is what I have in mind but I'm not sure if this will just back fire? I want to create new habits for her and help her be able to learn to cope and deal with her anxiety in a positive way or healthier way. Please someone help?



I am so sorry that your daughter is suffering from bulimia. But she is tremendously lucky to have a mom as strong and caring as you are. Just the fact that you posted on the forum alone tells me that you are passionate about helping your daughter through this process, and you deserve to pat yourself on the back. It's great that she is already seeing a psychologist, and you should be very proud of her for taking initiative and wanting help.

I am not a parent, but I'm a young women like your daughter who has certainly put my own mother through a lot (which I'm not proud of, but I have gradually learned to forgive myself for). Believe me when I say that she is not doing this on purpose. Mental illness is a complicated thing and it can make us say and do things that we will later look back on and say "what was I thinking?" Eating disorders make us irrational at times, and you are right that sometimes "tough love" will be necessary. While your daughter might be angry with you in the moment, she will one day thank you. I think it would be a great idea to consult with a nutritionist or something, as you mentioned maybe your daughter needs a meal plan. I recommend you call NEDA's helpline where they can provide you information about all sorts of eating disorder recovery resources in your area, including things like nutritionists. Here's their info: Monday-Thursday from 9:00 am - 9:00 pm and Friday from 9:00 am - 5:00 pm (EST), 1-800-931-2237

Also, while your main priority right now may be supporting your daughter, I encourage you to seek some support yourself, opening up about the issue to trusted friends or seeing a therapist, etc. You will be a better support system for your daughter if you are able to remain strong yourself.

Best of luck, and please continue to reach out to the forum in the future for help/advice :)
xx Hannah



I want to say My family is going through the same thing with our daughter. She just turned 15. We just found out a couple of months ago that she has been making herself purg. She was medical diagnosed as bulimic. She lost weight. I also noticed her grades suffering and her personality changed. I knew something wasn't right. I had a friend talk to her. She told him what was going on. We now she a psychologist and are going to an eating disorder clinic.

I just fell handcuffed when I have to discipline her. I don't want to make her act out or trigger her to do something. I know she is depressed. I'm just having trouble figuring out how to handle all of this. It's all new to my family.



I'm really sorry that you're going through this challenging time with your daughter right now. Regarding not wanting her to trigger her/make her act out, I recommend that you and your daughter try to have an open, serious conversatio about what her triggers are/what boundaries are going to be set in your home. Maybe including her therapist or another eating disorder professional could be helpful, since they have tons of knowledge about what kinds of in-house rules work well for situations like yours.

Please continue to be such an amazing and supportive mother to your daughter - she is very lucky to have someone like you who is so clearly motivated to helping her get better. I wish you lots of luck and strength during this journey.



Any advice please!! Target weight reached and its worse than the physical affects of underweight and clinic!! depression anger violence mood swings siblings confused and showing signs of total unhappiness and dislike of family life Any advise please

Sometimes, weight and the

Sometimes, weight and the physical effects of having reached that target might trigger a relapse, or different types of behaviors. Has your child considered seeing/continue seeing an eating disorder specialist? Perhaps the level of treatment (you mentioned a clinic) is not working for her/him, and you could consider other treatment levels of care:

I know the NEDA Helpline can help with finding information or treatment options that would be nearby your location, so know that there are always other options open! Their number is 1-800-931-2237 and they're open M-Th from 9am-9pm, and F from 9am-5pm EST. You have mentioned she shows unhappiness and dislikes the family life. Have you considered talking to her about it maybe? Perhaps there are some misunderstandings or things one individual did not fully see before. Here's a link from NEDA on What-Should-I-Say to your loved one with an eating disorder.

Or you can peruse: to see what tips or information might help.

It can't be easy seeing your child show such symptoms and emotions, but if she could recover once, there is definitely the possibility of recovering again. So don't lose hope!


Reaching out to Laura Macey ...Hello...As I read your post, I realized I could have been writing it myself because it is a mirror image of what I am going through with my 16 year old daughter. My heart is broken as I watch my precious child battle this horrible illness. In summary: we suspected it at the beginning of this year; confirmed it in April, and currently she sees a medical doctor every 10days - 2 weeks: and sees a psychotherapist once weekly: has had acupuncture; is on vitamins; has seen an acupuncturist: and has had her 11th grade class schedule lightened to only core subjects & still we are struggling everyday. She is well for a few days & then relapses for a day and feels lost all over again. She has mentioned "Not wanting to live like this anymore" and I am scared & desperate. I am looking into a day treatment facility because I have read that overnight facilities can sometimes trigger purging episodes amongst patients enabling each other. I see that you posted this back in January 2015 ad I was hopeful you would reach out to me and let me know how your daughter is doing and how you have coped along the way. Please.



Similar Story

Hi. I am in the thick of this right now and happened to come across your post. My daughter just turned 15 and is struggling. We went from living the high school dream of straight As, cheer captain, track star, and wonderful friendships to an every day battle. Her school drastically dropped, her desire to do anything active dropped and so have her friendships. She is in therapy and sees a Dr, a therapist and a dietician each specializing in eating disorders every week. Long story short, I was wondering how your daughter is doing now? How did your treatment plan go?

My biggest struggle is knowing how to parent. I know she needs some accountability and tough love but knowing how far is too far is killing me inside. I hate to see her future being determined by what is happening right now since I know this is not the real her.

Any advice or tips on what worked for your family would be openly received!

I suffered from

I suffered from
Bulimia from age 12 to 21. I can tell you nothing my mom did made me stop. I’d stop long enough to get discharged from hospitalization programs and then i’d continue and get better at hiding it. She needs to be treated for the root of the problem. Most likely that is counseling and seeing a psychiatrist. It wasn’t until I was in my late 20s and finally got on the right medication that I had no more
desire to binge/purge. Search high and low for the right counselor and the right medication if she needs it. For me I had severe anxiety, and didn’t even realize it. Be aware that she may need to continue treatment even after she (or you) thinks she is better. If she does purge, as hard as it is, i’d avoid confronting her. I remember whenever my
mom did I was just embarrassed and made sure to hide it better next time. Its actually good you are finding it so you know how often its happening. Best of luck. She is 17, so this is so important for her to get the help she needs.

Daughter w/ED

Thank you for sharing your story! I believe my daughter’s anxiety and OCD to be at the root of her struggles. If you don’t mind my asking what medication you found that worked for you personally?


Hi Suetob – we want to reiterate that posting medical or psychological advice, and mentioning specific medication names, are not allowed on the forums.   Since there is also mention of concerning feelings regarding loved ones from the past for precaution we are including these resources  to pass along as needed:

The NEDA Helpline is also available for help finding support and resources that could be helpful to your daughter at 800-931-2237or there is a chat function on this website to discuss support options. Helpline phone hours are Monday-Thursday 11am-9pm ET, Friday 11am-5pm ET. Helpline chat hours are Monday-Thursday 9am-9pm ET, Friday 9am-5pm ET. Please continue to post – we wish you the best!


we aren't allowed to mention specific medications on here. Everyone reacts to different medications differently. Best to talk to a psychiatrist about this.

Hi Laura

Hi, I am going through same thing with my child and its killing me. I will gladly talk with you. It is very scary and a helpless feeling. I also am reading information on the Maudsley Approach. There is so much stuff out there it is overwhelming and how do we choose? Then they say that poor diet contributes to depression and the malnutrition affects mood disorder so I believe it is all tied in. I am doing research and trying to educate myself to help without being so overbearing. its a fine line and I don't want to make her feel bad.

I came here today because my

I came here today because my 20 year old daughter is also bulimic and I'm at a complete loss as to what to do. Her younger brother, who is 17 and a Type 1 Diabetic with health issues of his own, is completely miserable and hates living at home. He told me last Thursday that once he's able to he's leaving and never wants to see her again, and said not me, either because, "You'll be stuck with her forever". I know I have to do something but I just don't know what. About a month ago she came to me and said, "I think I need to go to the hospital" and we planned to go the next day. But then it was the next day and then the next and now it seems to have escalated. I can't keep food in the house. Anything we buy on Friday is gone by Sunday and almost all of it is eaten by her. We hide food in our rooms but on top of being an awful feeling to do that we can't hide perishables. I need to talk to her but I also understand that she needs to want the help and I just don't know too late will be. I took her to an eating disorder clinic last February, right before COVID but then COVID, so that was all out the window. I understand and feel your pain. I wish I had answers. I'm here anytime.

My daughter had bulimia, and

My daughter had bulimia, and I did not act quickly or strongly enough. I approached her many times and she always denied. We were working w a MFT at the time; she did not refer us to an ED specialist. We were just told to "keep an eye on her and watch for weight loss." Eventually her bulimia transformed into severe restrictive anorexia. My advice is to get your daughter into a 10-hr PHP program. She will not be able to use behaviors there, she will eat there, and they will teach her better coping strategies (CBT, DBT) for her emotions. The longer the behaviors go on, the more taken by the ED the child becomes and the harder recovery. When she is 18, it tends to get harder to get them into treatment.

17 year old Son has bulimia

God I wish I knew how to handle this. I have taken him to his PCP, A psychiatrist and now just waiting for a return call from a hospital that can start to help him.