How to Support Someone With Bulimia

Supporting a loved one or friend with bulimia involves noticing the warning signs of the disease and being willing to have honest and respectful dialogue about your concerns.

Many individuals with eating disorders may be in a state of denial or can become defensive, angry or unwilling to seek help.

Your job as a support person, therefore, isn’t to fix the problem, but to provide compassion and understanding while still maintaining your own boundaries.

Focus on Progress, not Problems

Shaming and blaming someone with bulimia does not work – it tends only to reinforce negative behaviors.

While it’s natural to be uncomfortable or even upset that a person you care about is sick, avoid accusatory statements or making the other person feel guilty.

Instead, focus on highlighting areas of progress or things that are going well in this person’s life or recovery.

Avoid Appearance-Based Comments.

Commenting on the individual’s appearance – even if it’s in the form of positive praise – reinforces the idea that this person’s worth is external.

Avoid talking about body image and instead keep your comments or compliments focused on health and well-being.

Share Concerns with Respect

It’s ok to be honest, but sharing your concerns with someone who has bulimia should be done so with respect.

Ultimately, it is not your decision whether this person gets help, adheres to a treatment plan, or even talks about the problem with you.

Feel free to share your thoughts and feelings, but try not to have expectations about the outcome.

Set a Good Example

Sometimes supporting someone with bulimia can involve challenging or examining your own attitudes, beliefs or behaviors that have to do with food.

Setting a positive example for your loved one when it comes to health and eating is one of the best ways to support this person.

Your behaviors can inspire better habits and healthy practices in your loved one more than you might think.

Lastly, if you’re not sure how to best support a loved one with bulimia, just ask – showing your concern is often enough.


Eating Disorder Self Test. Take the EAT-26 self test to see if you might have eating disorder symptoms that might require professional evaluation. All answers are confidential.

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