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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.

Recommended Related to Eating Disorders

Signs of an Eating Disorder

Eating disorders are a group of conditions marked by an unhealthy relationship with food. There are three main types of eating disorders: Anorexia nervosa. This is characterized by weight loss often due to excessive dieting and exercise, sometimes to the point of starvation. Someone with anorexia can never be thin enough and continues to see herself as “fat” despite extreme weight loss. Bulimia nervosa. The condition is marked by cycles of extreme overeating, known as bingeing, followed...

Read the Signs of an Eating Disorder article > >

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.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 25, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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