National Eating Disorders Association

  • Educate yourself on eating disorders; learn the jargon
  • Learn the differences between facts and myths about weight, nutrition, and exercise
  • Ask what you can do to help
  • Listen openly and reflectively
  • Be patient and nonjudgmental
  • Offer to help with practical tasks (laundry, transportation to and from appointments)
  • Avoid discussions about food, weight, and eating, especially your own habits or those of others
  • Model a balanced relationship with food, weight, and exercise
  • Ask how they are feeling
  • Remember that recovery is a marathon, not a sprint
  • Focus on the emotional aspects of an eating disorder, not just the physical ones
  • Encourage the sufferer to follow through with treatment recommendations
  • Distract your loved one during and after meals to help with anxiety
  • Refrain from telling the person what they should do
  • Continue to reach out—individuals with eating disorders may find it hard to socialize and may push people away
  • Arrange activities that don’t involve food or eating so your loved one can continue to take part
  • When it doubt, ask. They can’t read your mind, and you can’t read theirs
  • Validate their feelings and their emotional pain, especially when they share something difficult or reveal that they have kept a secret
  • Focus on positive personality traits and other qualities that have nothing to do with appearance
  • Express any concerns that arise
  • Don’t take their actions personally
  • Set boundaries to preserve your own emotional well-being

NEDA is here to support you during the evolving COVID-19 outbreak. The health of our community, especially those who are most vulnerable to the virus' serious complications, remains paramount. To access resources that can provide free and low-cost support, please click here.