Eating Disorders: Avoiding Guilt and Self-Blame

Topic Overview

If someone in your family has an eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or binge eating disorder, do not blame yourself for his or her condition. Blame only distracts you from what you can do to help the person who has the disorder.

Friends and family members cannot cause a person to develop an eating disorder. Many people who have an eating disorder come from families in which other members have eating disorders or have other conditions such as depression. This does not mean that a family member caused the disorder; it simply means these conditions seem more likely to happen in that family.

You can avoid guilt and self-blame by using the following tips.

  • Show support for your family member who has an eating disorder. Say things such as, "I know this is hard for you. You are doing a good job."
  • Don't focus attention only on the family member who is in treatment. Spend time with other members of your family and your friends.
  • Remind yourself that this is a long-lasting disorder. It will take time for changes to happen.
  • Forgive yourself if you think you said something that was not appropriate, and forgive your family member if he or she reverts to unhealthy eating behaviors.
  • Do not look for the reason for the disorder. Work toward changing things for the better.
  • Look at your own eating behaviors and change the ones that seem unhealthy.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer W. Stewart Agras, MD, FRCPC - Psychiatry
Last Revised August 25, 2011

Last Revised: August 25, 2011

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