How to Tell Your Family You Have an Eating Disorder

How to Tell Your Family You Have an Eating Disorder

Girl standing in foreground with parents behind her out of focus.

Can we start by saying just how glad we are that you looked for information on talking to your family member about your eating disorder? That takes courage, and we hope you are proud of yourself.

Now that you’ve made this first big step let’s discuss what you can do to make the most of this difficult but necessary conversation.

Before Talking to Your Family, Consider These Truths

While there’s no time to wait when it comes to gaining help and support from your loved ones, we would encourage you to pause for just a moment to reflect on a few truths:

  1. An eating disorder is not a moral failing; it is a medical condition.
  2. You need help, and that’s okay.
  3. It’s also okay to feel anxious about bringing this topic up with your family.
  4. People who love you will be so glad you told them.
  5. The conversation might be rocky at first.
  6. Breaking the ice is often the hardest part.
  7. Inviting your family into your struggle puts you one step closer to healing.
  8. The best time to begin is now.

Consider also how the interaction with your family might go. Do you intend to tell your parents? Maybe a sibling? Your spouse? Think about the personalities of the people you’ll be talking to, as well as the weight of what you will tell them.

Go ahead and set the expectation that there may be some tough moments ahead—that you may encounter strong emotions or even brief confusion.

By setting the right expectation now, you can move forward with confidence, knowing that while there may be uncomfortable moments, there will also be so much relief and support.

Prepare For The Conversation

To help build your confidence, do a little leg work on the front end. We’re not suggesting this as a distraction to actually telling your family, so feel free to keep your preparations short and sweet. You might:

  • Choose a time and place free of distraction. You could talk about your eating disorder over dinner or when things are winding down for the night. If speaking face to face feels overwhelming, consider asking your loved one to go for a walk or bringing it up the next time you’re in the car.
  • Jot down a few notes about what you’d like to say. Maybe you want to educate your family member about the challenges of a specific eating disorder. Or perhaps you’d simply like to share your own struggles and story.
  • Decide ahead of time what you need most from your family. Do you need moral support? Would it help for someone to do research about treatment options? Would you benefit simply from letting them in on what you’re dealing with?

Take The Conversational Leap

Once you’ve prepared, just go for it. And take comfort from a young woman named Alex, who shared with Women’s Health Magazine how nervous she was to tell her dad about her eating disorder. She eventually worked up the courage and went for it.

She says, “He took a breath, and he nodded his head as he tried to process what I had just said. I feared what would come next, but what happened was just so . . . my dad. He snapped his fingers and made finger guns as he said, ‘It’s going to be okay. We’re going to get through this.’ Emphasis on the ‘we.’ For the first time, I felt strong enough to fight. So I did.”

Do you need further encouragement to come clean about your eating disorder? We can help. Give us a call today at 562-434-6007.



  1. https://www.womenshealthmag.com/health/a19974748/eating-disorder-story/