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How Eating Disorders Affect the Family

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are very serious conditions that affect sufferers by disturbing their everyday diet. Some sufferers eat far too little to meet their nutritional needs while others may binge eat or engage in other unhealthy eating practices. While anorexia and bulimia treatments in St. Louis, MO can help sufferers manage their illness, it’s important to remember that families are also affected by a loved one’s eating disorder in various ways.

Eating Disorders

Inability to Understand

Many families have a difficult time understanding the nature of their loved one’s illness. Often families are confused why their loved one has developed an eating disorder, especially when they reflect back on times when their loved one did not suffer from any eating difficulty. It is not uncommon for families to wonder how to support their loved one. They may have little understanding about what they should do to help their loved one manage this condition. Treatment, of course, can provide families with this vital information so they can support their loved one with best practices.


Many families naturally feel immense stress when coping with a loved one’s eating disorder. Family members may feel anger as well as great sadness. It can be trying to watch a loved one suffer. Families may hope that treatment produces immediate results, but in many cases, sufferers require long-term treatment to effectively deal with their eating disorder. It can be helpful for family members to educate themselves about the illness so they can better steer their emotions in a more proactive direction. Treatment centers can provide information for families so they can understand how to best help their loved one.


Some family members feel a great deal of guilt over their loved one’s eating disorder. They may feel that they should have done something to prevent it or should have recognized it sooner. They may feel guilty or inadequate in terms of the support they are able to provide their loved one. Although guilt is a common feeling among families of loved ones with eating disorders, it should be remembered that eating disorders require clinical treatment and that families can best overcome these feelings by ensuring that their loved one has access to the medical care they need.

Families certainly suffer when a loved one succumbs to an eating disorder. However, therapists can help the entire family as well as the sufferer in question. By learning how to provide effective support, families can channel their emotions in a helpful direction and can enhance their loved one’s recovery process.