Caregiver Support

Families and other support persons play a critical role in lasting recovery from eating and feeding disorders. Unfortunately, without accurate information on how to support their loved ones, they often find themselves walking on eggshells or expressing anger and impatience with the eating disorder's impact on their child and the family.  Our team will teach you how to become agents of change in the recovery of your loved one.  


  • DO understand that there is no quick and easy fix.  Recovery from an eating disorder takes between 2 and 7 years of active treatment.

  • DO talk to your loved, ask questions, and listen to what they tell you.  Eating disorders thrive in secrecy and shame.  By avoiding these conversations, you are giving the eating disorder permission to stick around.

  • DO reflect on your own food and weight concerns and how those may impact not only you but also your loved one.

  • DO compliment your loved one about how hard they are working or the things you appreciate about them other than their physical qualities.

  • DO realize your loved one takes comfort and feels safe in the perceived control and rituals of the disorder.

  • DO realize that the eating disorder serves an important function for your loved one and that they will need to find ways to accomplish those same things without it before they are able to recover.

  • DO empower the individual to make their own decisions and be accountable for their decisions.

  • DO create opportunities to spend time with your loved one outside of events and conversations that revolve around food and the eating disorder.   

  • DO allow your loved one to be in charge of his or her routines of daily life, realizing that by giving up your control you’re setting the stage for developing healthy self-control.

  • DO realize that it is natural for your loved one to have mixed feelings about getting well.

  • DO separate your loved one from their disorder.  

  • DO make it clear that you love and support your loved one but do not support the eating disorder.  

  • DO recognize that eating (as opposed to feeding) disorders are hardly ever just about food.  Because of this, underlying issues such as anxiety, bullying, and trauma must also be addressed. 

  • DO understand that your loved one's dishonesty is a result of shame and an effort to protect the eating disorder, which they may be ambivalent about letting go of.  

  • DO model normal, healthy eating behavior and attitudes.

  • DO realize that for someone with an eating disorder, behaviors that may seem healthy otherwise such as exercise and "healthy" eating are likely part of their disorder and must be addressed.

  • DO take care of yourself.  You need rest and rejuvenation.

  • DO inform yourself about the disorder and its treatment, attend support groups and read current literature.


  • DON’T give up; this is a long-term illness and recovery can be very difficult but people can and do recover daily. 

  • DON'T think that you can control the outcome.  Although there are things you can do to support or sabotage your loved one, ultimately they have to be responsible for their own recovery.   

  • DON'T ignore the problem thinking it will go away or they will "grow out of it."  

  • DON'T skip meals, talk about being on a diet, or make critical comments about your body or that of others.

  • DON’T comment positively or negatively on appearance or weight.

  • DON'T talk to them about the cost or inconvenience of their treatment.  This could make them feel like they are a burden.  

  • DON'T assume there isn't a problem if your loved one doesn't show physical symptoms or medical concerns.

  • DON’T force the person to eat or tell him or her to “just eat”, instead be there to support him or her emotionally.

  •  DON’T panic; strong emotions such as anger, fear, or sadness may make things harder for your loved one.  That doesn't mean you can't feel these things, but get help from your own support system instead. 

  •  DON’T make your love or support a condition of your loved one’s appearance, health, weight, achievements or any other attribute.

  • DON'T feel you must walk on eggshells so the person with the eating disorder won’t be upset.

  • DON’T let the eating disorder disrupt family routines and the needs of other family members.

  • DON’T be manipulative.  Be direct with feelings and expectations.

  • DON’T try to control the person’s behavior, as it can intensify the problem.

  • DON’T talk about what he or she is eating without their permission

  • DON’T impose rules except those that are necessary for the individual’s or family’s safety and well-being.  Avoid power struggles.

  • DON’T blame yourself, feel guilty or dwell on causes.

  • DON’T expect yourself to be a perfect parent, partner, family member or friend.

  • DON’T tell someone with anorexia who has gained weight he or she looks better or healthy.

  • DON’T treat your loved one differently when eating meals or around food.

21900 Willamette Drive, Suite 202 West Linn, OR 97068

p: 503-635-0631 | f: 503-653-1464