Home About Contact Help ECRI Institute Davis Foundation Site Index 
 Bulimia Resource Guide Summary
 Bulimia Nervosa Resource Guide for Family and Friends
 Maximizing Health Insurance Benefits to Pay for Bulimia Treatment
 Mental Health Laws Affecting Bulimia Treatment
 Find a Bulimia Treatment Center
 Checklists and Tip Charts
 Bulimia Nervosa Resources for Schools and Coaches
 Additional Resources
 Selected Reference List
 Bulimia Nervosa: Efficacy of Available Treatments
 Who Produced and Funded this Content
 Media Resources
What are patient-recommended dos and don'ts for being supportive?
"Family therapy gives you a language to talk about things, a place to air differences," said a parent of a bulimic daughter.

This checklist offers some patient-recommended ways to be supportive during treatment. Click here for a discussion and additional recommendations.


  • Provide information on eating disorders and suggest resources for help
  • Speak kindly
  • Listen and understand
  • Be patient
  • Show affection and empathy
  • Remember that the person needs to do the work to recover
  • Be honest and non-judgmental
  • Ask how you can help and do it (chores, transportation, attending therapy with the patient)
  • Encourage the patient to seek help and volunteer to go along
  • Understand what "safe" foods are (the foods that will not make the patient want to binge on or purge)
  • Encourage social activities that don't involve food (e.g., rent a movie, play a game)
  • Encourage activities suggested by treatment providers (i.e., keeping appointments, taking and refilling medications)
  • Understand that recovery takes a long time; food may always be a difficult subject
  • Encourage the person's successes and accomplishments in life and treatment


  • Don't accuse or blame, that can cause guilt and withdrawal
  • Don't demand changes in weight
  • Don't try to help more than you have competence for
  • Don't try to control the person
  • Don't take the person's actions personally
  • Don't insist the person eat every food available at a meal
  • Don't make the focus of social activities food or clothing shopping, do other things
  • Don't nag or dictate what should and should not be eaten
  • Don't try to scare the person into treatment by listing all the damaging effects of bulimia nervosa
  • Don't be a food or bathroom monitor
  • Don't focus conversations around weight or appearance, even if you think you are being positive

Copyright 2018 ECRI Institute
All rights reserved
Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder in which a person engages in binge eating (eating a lot of food in a short time) followed by some type of behavior to prevent weight gain from the food that was eaten. This behavior can take two forms: self-induced vomiting, misuse of enemas, laxatives, diet pills (called purging) and excessive exercise, fasting, or diabetic omission of insulin (called non-purging). Some people with bulimia nervosa may also starve themselves for periods of time before binge eating again. Bulimia nervosa has important mental, emotional, and physical aspects that require consideration during treatment.

Read our Blog  Follow Us on Twitter  Like Us on Facebook