If someone in your family has an eating disorder such as anorexia
nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or binge eating disorder, do not blame yourself for
his or her condition. Blame only distracts you from what you can do to help the
person who has the disorder.
Friends and family members cannot cause a person to develop an eating
disorder. Many people who have an eating disorder come from families in which
other members have eating disorders or have other conditions such as
depression. This does not mean that a family member caused the disorder; it
simply means these conditions seem more likely to happen in that family.
You can avoid guilt and self-blame by using the following
Show support for your family member who has an
eating disorder. Say things such as, "I know this is hard for you. You are
doing a good job."
Don't focus attention only on the family member
who is in treatment. Spend time with other members of your family and your
Remind yourself that this is a long-lasting disorder. It
will take time for changes to happen.
Forgive yourself if you think
you said something that was not appropriate, and forgive your family member if
he or she reverts to unhealthy eating behaviors.
Do not look for
the reason for the disorder. Work toward changing things for the
Look at your own eating behaviors and change the ones that
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.