Helping Your Friend

Please note: For ease in reading, we have used “she” and “her” in the description below even though eating disorders exist in men, women, girls, and boys. This advice is suitable for a child of either gender.

Click here if your friend is already getting help.

If your friend doesn’t admit to having a problem and/or doesn’t want help, the best way to approach her is to help her see that she needs assistance. However, you’ll need to prepare yourself well since approaching a friend with an eating disorder can be tricky.

Remember that her eating disorder is a desperate way of trying to cope with underlying problems. Even though you can see her disorder as unhealthy and unproductive, your friend may view her eating habits as a lifeline. That is why it is common for someone with an eating disorder to get upset or mad if you try to help her. She may fear that you are going to take away her only coping mechanism. She may deny the problem, be furious that you discovered her secret, or feel threatened by your caring. When you raise your concerns, give your friend time and space to think and respond.

Before approaching your friend, find out about resources for help in your community so that you can offer her a strategy to connect with that help.

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