How to tell someone you have an eating disorder

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How to tell someone you have an eating disorder

How to to tell someone you have an eating disorder ? At Milestones in Recovery, a leading eating disorder treatment facility in Florida, we understand that opening up about your struggles with an eating disorder can be a challenging and emotional journey. Whether you’re planning to confide in a friend, family member, partner, or professional, initiating this conversation requires careful consideration and sensitivity. In this article, we provide guidance on how to approach the difficult task of telling someone about your eating disorder, drawing from our expertise and experience in supporting individuals on their recovery journeys.

Understanding the Importance of Communication

Acknowledging and sharing your struggles with an eating disorder is a significant step towards healing and seeking the help you need. While it may feel daunting, reaching out to a trusted person can provide you with emotional support and encourage you to seek professional treatment. Open communication also helps your loved ones understand your experiences, fostering empathy and strengthening relationships.

Choose the Right Setting and Timing

Selecting an appropriate setting and timing for this conversation is crucial. Opt for a quiet, private space where you can speak openly without interruptions. Choose a time when both you and the person you’re confiding in can devote ample time to the discussion. Avoid times when either of you might be rushed or preoccupied.

Educate Yourself and Your Listener

Prior to initiating the conversation, gather accurate information about eating disorders. This will not only help you communicate your experiences effectively but also provide your listener with a better understanding of the condition. Share reputable sources of information, such as those from organizations like the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), to help dispel misconceptions and ensure an informed conversation.

Express Yourself Honestly

Approach the conversation with honesty and vulnerability. Explain your feelings, behaviors, and experiences without judgment. Express how your eating disorder has affected your daily life, emotions, and relationships. Be prepared for a range of reactions, as your listener may experience shock, concern, or sadness upon learning about your struggles.

Use “I” Statements

Using “I” statements can help you express your feelings without sounding accusatory or confrontational. For example, say, “I have been struggling with an eating disorder, and I need your support” instead of “You don’t understand what I’m going through.”

Anticipate Responses

Recognize that the person you’re confiding in might have various reactions. They might feel shocked, worried, or unsure of how to respond. Alternatively, they might express empathy, understanding, and a willingness to help. Prepare yourself for different reactions and remember that their response is a reflection of their own feelings and experiences.

Be Patient and Allow Processing Time

Telling someone about your eating disorder can be overwhelming for both you and the listener. Give them time to process the information and consider how they can best support you. It’s normal for emotions to run high during this conversation, so be patient and understanding as you navigate the complexities of the moment.

Share Your Support Needs

Let your listener know what kind of support you need from them. This could range from simply being there to listen, to helping you find professional treatment options. Communicate your preferences while acknowledging that they might not have all the answers. Encourage an open dialogue about how they can best support you on your journey.

Avoid Blame and Judgment

When discussing your eating disorder, focus on your experiences and emotions rather than placing blame on yourself or others. Avoid using language that could lead to guilt or shame. Remember, the goal of this conversation is to foster understanding, support, and healing.

Offer Resources

Provide resources and information about eating disorder treatment facilities, therapists, and support groups. Share literature, websites, and contact information for reputable organizations that can offer guidance and assistance. Offering resources can empower your listener to play an active role in your recovery journey.

Emphasize the Importance of Professional Help

Explain that while their support is invaluable, eating disorders are complex medical conditions that require professional treatment. Encourage them to join you in seeking expert guidance from therapists, dietitians, and medical professionals who specialize in eating disorders.

Reassure Them About Confidentiality

If you’re worried about privacy, assure your listener that you trust them with this information and discuss the importance of confidentiality. This can help build a foundation of trust and enable you to be more open about your experiences.

Prepare for Long-Term Support

Recovery from an eating disorder is a journey that takes time and ongoing effort. Let your listener know that your recovery is not a quick fix, and you may need their support over an extended period. This can help manage their expectations and ensure a consistent network of support.

Opening up about an eating disorder is a courageous step towards seeking help and healing. At Milestones in Recovery, we recognize the importance of effective communication in the recovery process. By choosing the right setting, being honest, using “I” statements, and anticipating various responses, you can initiate a conversation that promotes understanding and support.

Remember that telling someone about your eating disorder is a personal decision, and you have the right to choose when and how to share your experiences. The journey towards recovery is unique for everyone, but with the proper support and communication, you can take those crucial steps towards a healthier and more fulfilling life.


– National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). (n.d.). Learn. Retrieved from

– Treasure, J., Smith, G., & Crane, A. (2007). Skills-based learning for caring for a loved one with an eating disorder: The new Maudsley method. Routledge.