National Eating Disorders Association

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Unsure how to approach an older sibling with anerexia?

My sister has had anerexia while married to a real jerk. She recoverred, they our dad passed away, allowing for her to move in with our older mother which allowed for her to gain weight and eat healthy. She moved out of my mothers house and all by herself. She doesn't have any contact with any siblings or her 2 grown children. She attended a family open house which allowed for all to see she has slipped again. The day after the open house she texted my mother stating needed help and scared, only to recount that and stated she needed to work harder on eating and that she can do this by herself. She stated she can't stop losing weight. We don't want to make her anxiety go up any further, has to stay on a strict routine. . . if we tell her something she doesn't want to hear she will not call or talk to any of us. Doesn't want anyone at her house because it will upset her routine. So, in her delicate state of mind, not sure what triggered her text to our mother (physical or mental issues???) but obviously she was trying to seek help?? Any ideas on how to broach the subject that she needs to be hospitalized??? A family intervention may be too much for her anxiety?

Any help on how to assist her

Any help on how to assist her in getting help would be appreciated?! Supposedly, she seen her doctor with clean bill of health. This can't be true?! Will they lie in order to not get medical help?

Welcome to the forums!


I’m sorry to hear about your sister. Eating disorders are emotionally taxing on families and approaching someone about their ED can be very difficult. She is probably feeling pulled in two directions, wanting to reach out but also clinging to her ED behaviors. You are not alone in your confusion on how to approach the subject.

NEDA has a lot of resources that can help you plan your talk with your sister. They have a help line (Monday-Thursday from 9:00 am - 9:00 pm and Friday from 9:00 am - 5:00 pm @ 1-800-931-2237) if you want to discuss resources with a volunteer and there are a lot of great online resources. I’ve found this toolkit helpful (not just for parents).

Your sister is really lucky to have someone that wants to help her through recovery. Even when your relationship is strained don’t doubt that your support and love matters. Take care of yourself!

Edited Post

Hi tea4twoby4,

Thank you for posting. A portion of your post was edited to conform to community guidelines.

Best wishes and please continue posting.

NEDA Moderators

Hi tea4twoby4!

Hi tea4twoby4!

Welcome to the NEDA online forums! We are so glad you have found a place for some help and support through these tough times! Were you able to utilize some of the resources mycatblue posted since you last posted on Sunday? I agree with mycatblue in regards to feeling "pulled in two different directions," as I have experience being the younger sibling struggling with an eating disorder. I would desperately want to get better, but on the other hand, my eating disorder would grow louder and louder the more I would I would work to get healthier. Your older sister has to want to get help, which it sounds like she does based on the text message she has sent to your mother. She might just be feeling unsure of what to do next and what it takes to get better. Have you tried talking to her privately about some of these issues? Or seeing if she would possibly speak with a therapist/nutritionist/doctor?

Please let us know if there is anything more we can do to help! I wish you the best of luck and let us know how it's going with your sister! <3


My sister with an ed is uncomfortable with my diet

My sister has been diagnosed with anorexia for four years and is now doing better. Recently, however, I have noticed she has been slipping back to her old trends that come with her eating disorder. My first question is: what to do? I am traveling abroad in two weeks where I will be gone for five months, but I know that my parents will do little to nothing if they even notice. Today, my sister said that she has not been doing as well lately, but blamed me. I have been eating a certain way for around three months and I love it. I have never felt better and happier. My sister blamed me and my diet on her slips and a slight relapse. I would do anything to help my sister. While she was hospitalized I did a lot and I cooked her food when she got out of the hospital. I will continue to do anything for her, but my lifestyle is something I love and I do not want to sacrifice that due to the fact that, in my opinion, my parents have not sacrificed enough. For example, my Dad was supposed to make her eat certain foods. Anyways, what should I do? I do not think her relapse is my fault, maybe I should, but I feel very stuck. Any advice?


I think you can be assured that your lifestyle is not responsible for your sister's backslide. While it may be something that she finds herself focusing on at the moment, If you were to change your eating habits, it's doubtful that you'd see her situation turn around.

Not to sound cruel towards your sister, but after four years I'm fairly certain that she has developed some measure of insight into her situation. My sense is that the best way you can support her is to show her that you have some insight and empathy for her situation too.

While she may frame things from the standpoint of her weight, I think we can all understand how frustrating to feel like we aren't accomplishing what we would like in life. And the sorts of frustrations we can feel towards ourselves when we are having troubles in that area. These are human concerns which are universal enough that they can be detached from her weight concerns I think, and can form a basis for your sympathy for her situation.

I have some experience supporting people with EDs, and that's pretty much how I go about it. I rarely engage with the details of their weight concerns, but try and stick with the larger emotional themes which are behind them. The self-hate thing, the feelings of not being "good enough" , and the toxic feelings that depression can engender

Themes which we can all relate to to some degree, but which they will have to make some kind of peace with if they are ever to conquer their obsessions with weight.


wms1965,Thank you for posing on the NEDA forums. We wanted to let you know that your post has been slightly edited to fit within our community guidelines so that particular diets or types of foods are not mentioned.  Please continue to keep posting!