Support For Eating Problems


 This section is for friends or relatives who would like to help someone with an eating problem.


The best thing you can do for your friend or relative is to not judge them or assume things about them.


Try not to look for a simple explanation for their eating problems. The urge to do so may come from your need to explain, and possibly control, a problem that can seem very hard to understand.


Sometimes people assume automatically that someone with an eating problem has been sexually abused, or that it’s an attempt to stop their body developing during adolescence, or in an attempt to attain an ideal body image. But if you interpret someone’s eating problems in a particular way, without really listening to the person themselves, it could add to their feeling of being out of control. It could make them even less able to share their emotions.


Your friend or relative’s eating ‘problems’ feel to them like a solution not a problem. It’s a way of expressing terribly painful feelings, which may include anger, rage, guilt and loss. They may not want to recognise that they have an eating problem. They may be secretive and even obstructive. This is one of the obstacles to treatment that needs to be overcome.


It may also make the situation worse, not better, if you try and persuade your friend or relative to change their behaviour, e.g. to put on weight or to lose it. You may find it very hard to accept that what your friend or relative does has to be decided by them, and that you can’t, magically, make them better.


Without trying to persuade the person to change, you may want to talk about how their eating behaviour makes you feel. It’s important to be honest, and to get support for yourself.


But, there are also ways you can be of great support to them:


  • Help them by giving them the opportunity to talk about their feelings.
  • If they don’t want to, make it clear that you still care for them and will be there, if they want to talk to you another time.
  • Encourage them to seek professional help, such as counselling or to see their GP.
  • If they are worried about doing this, you could offer to go along with them.

View as PDF


The Have I Got A Problem website is a free online resource to help people better understand any issues or concerns they may have about mental health or addiction. The website includes resources specifically focused to; general Mental Health, Depression, Stress, Anxiety, Insecurities, Self-harm Schizophrenia, Bipolar, Anger Management, Eating Disorders, Coping, general Addiction, Alcohol, Smoking, Gambling, Drugs, Cocaine, Heroin, Marijuana (Cannabis) Ecstasy, PCP, Mephedrone, Ketamine & Crystal Meth.

The site was created to give the public information to help them understand mental health and addiction issues and to assist people in making better informed decisions about their life and personal choices. was created and is run by 'Advising Communities’, which is a UK registered charity (Charity No. 1061055)


"Only two people know about my eating disorder: my mom and one of my best friends. They are very understanding, but I don't think they fully understand what I'm going through. Sometimes they try to make me eat, which always results in a round of yelling an"


MoreSend us your Quotes

Tips & Hints

  • Eat Meals with Family or Friends

    A person who is anxious about eating will feel more comfortable doing so among other people they trust, such as family or friends. This...
  • Keep a Food Diary

    Keep a food diary of what you eat and when you eat it to help you focus on eating regularly. Also record any episodes of going without ...
  • Take Regular Exercise

    Studies have shown exercise to have a positive effect on low self-esteem and poor body image, which are widely cited as being contribut...
  • Be Patient

    Unhealthy relationships with food do not develop overnight, and it can take many months and even years to regain full control over your...
  • Eat Healthy Foods

    The types of foods we eat are important. We all like to indulge in our favourite foods every once in a while, but we should also eat as...
  • More Tips & Hints