Eating Disorder Treatment Center

Canopy Cove of Tallahassee, Florida


  • Recognize your own attitude and amount of focus on your weight, body shape, and dieting practices. How might this be triggering or encouraging a friend, family member, or child to follow your pattern?
  • Try not to use food as a socializing agent.
  • Recognize that food has a purpose: to fulfill hunger.
  • If there are family or friendship disagreements, try not to argue at the table. Such negative experiences become associated with eating and then food is thought of as a problem.
  • Do not discuss weight, the number of calories being consumed or particular eating habits. Attempt instead to discuss feelings.
  • Avoid monitoring food that the person eats, once the person is in treatment.
  • It won’t help to become involved in a power struggle. You can’t force the person to eat.
  • Do not treat the person with an eating disorder like a child. If you are a parent, do not deny your daughter some parental guidance, but at the same time, remember that she has many adult abilities which need to develop.
  • When you speak to the person, speak with compassion and concern. Be as descriptive as possible. Tell the person you are concerned, that you care and would like to help. Suggest that he/she seek professional help.
  • Avoid focusing on how the person looks with comments such as; “You’re looking far too thin.” Or “You’re looking great!” Instead of using comments that encourage body obsessions, focus on other areas of the person’s life as much as possible.
  • Explain what you suspect by describing the person’s problematic behaviors. State your observations.
    • Example 1: “I am noticing that you are skipping meals. You’re eating less at each meal. You’re exercising more and it is obvious that you are losing a large amount of weight. I’m concerned for your health.”
    • Example 2: “I am noticing that whenever I buy candy bars or cookies, they disappear. When I ask you about them you say you don’t know anything about it, yet I have found the wrappers lying around. It seems that you are eating all the food.
  • Do not allow the dysfunctional behavior to be overlooked, otherwise, you are rewarding it. You need to increase the person’s responsibility for her behavior.
  • Do not use scare tactics. They are not appropriate and they do not work.
  • Give the person time to improve unless you suspect that her life is in danger. Negotiate a plan that may include certain behaviors such as eating regularly or decreasing purging. If the verbal contract is broken, seek professional help.
  • If a person appears to be showing signs of extreme physical problems yet refuses help, a decision needs to be made by the parents and professional to determine if treatment is necessary and how to initiate it.
  • Provide specific information for help: names of treatment providers and phone numbers. There may be eating disorder specialists in your community or there may be support groups for eating disorders. Have information available when you approach the person.
  • The person with an eating disorder is sensitive to non-verbal behavior judging others’ attitudes toward them by fleeting expression, a tone of voice, or even the movement of your body.
  • Try to remember their intense feelings of inadequacy. Attitudes of scorn, disgust, or impatience exhibited toward someone with an eating disorder intensifies her symptoms.
  • Recognize that the person may deny their observations and be upset (especially if they have anorexia or bulimia). Try not to be discouraged. Recognize that you have broken through her psychological defense. The person is frightened.
  • Do not expect an immediate 100% recovery. As with any disorder, there will be a period of convalescence. There may be relapses. There will be difficult days when all of the old tensions flare up again

From: National Anorexic Aid Society