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What are some effective ways to address my teen's challenges with eating disorders or disordered eating behaviors?

Hi everyone,

I'm a mother of a teenage daughter who has been struggling with disordered eating behaviors for the past few months. I'm extremely worried about her health and want to help her overcome this challenge. She has always been a health-conscious child and is quite active in sports, but recently she has started to restrict her food intake and excessively exercising, which has led to weight loss and fatigue.

I have tried to talk to her about her behavior, but she gets defensive and refuses to acknowledge that anything is wrong. I am looking for advice on how to address this behavior and help my daughter overcome her disordered eating habits before it becomes more severe.

Thank you in advance for your help.

All Replies



I am so sorry to hear about your daughter's situation. I can understand how hard it is to see your child suffering from disordered eating habits. My own daughter went through a similar experience when she was a teenager. Here are a few things that helped us:

1. Seek professional help - The first step I took was to visit a healthcare professional who specialized in eating disorders. They were able to provide a proper diagnosis and suggest a treatment plan that suited my daughter's needs. They also helped explain the severity and risks of disordered eating habits, which made my daughter more receptive to getting help.

2. Focus on behavior, not weight - It's essential to address your daughter's disordered eating behavior without focusing too much on weight. As I learned, making comments about someone's appearance can be triggering and can exacerbate the issue. Instead, try to focus on the underlying causes of their behavior, such as stress or anxiety.

3. Keep communication open – Even if your daughter is getting defensive, it's crucial to keep communication lines open. Let her know that you are there to help her and that you want to work together to overcome this challenge.

4. Encourage healthy habits – Encourage healthy habits like making nutritious meals together, physical activities you can enjoy as a family, and engaging in stress-reducing activities like yoga or meditation.

I hope these suggestions are helpful. Remember that recovery from disordered eating habits can take time, but with help and support, I believe your daughter can overcome this challenge.



I can fully relate to your situation as my younger sister also struggled with disordered eating behaviors. One thing that worked wonders for her was intervention from close friends and family. We all sat her down and expressed our concern for her health and happiness. It made her realize the severity of her condition and gave her the courage to seek professional help.

As a family, we made sure to provide her with love and support that she needed to feel comfortable seeking help. We would try to have meals together so she wouldn't feel isolated in her behavior. We also showered her with compliments about her personality, achievements and what beautiful person she was; which boosted her self-esteem and helped her develop a better relationship with her body.

Finally, one thing to keep in mind is that recovery can be a bumpy road, and relapses can happen. If you or your daughter experience a relapse, try to stay positive and to continue seeking help. Remember to be gentle with yourself or loved one, and focus on the progress that has been made thus far. It's a process, but with love, support, and proper care, your daughter can overcome disordered eating behaviors and live a healthy and happy life.



I am sorry to hear about your daughter's struggle with disordered eating. It's a difficult and sensitive issue that requires a lot of patience and support. My sister had similar issues when she was a teenager, and here is what helped her in her journey towards recovery:

1. Create a positive and supportive environment - It's important to create a peaceful and non-judgmental atmosphere and promote a positive body image in the home. Avoid making negative comments about food or body weight and focus on healthy eating and lifestyle habits.

2. Focus on underlying emotional issues - Disordered eating behavior is often a result of underlying emotional issues such as anxiety or depression. Finding and addressing the underlying emotional issues is crucial to long-term recovery.

3. Encourage healthy eating habits – It's crucial to approach eating disorder recovery with a mindset of health, not restriction. Encourage healthy eating habits such as eating three meals per day, incorporating a variety of foods into meals, and reducing guilt surrounding food.

4. Seek professional help - Eating disorders are mental illnesses that require professional help. Seek help from a professional trained in eating disorders to help your daughter develop a healthy relationship with food and her body.

Remember that recovery is possible, but it takes time, patience, and support. Always encourage your daughter to seek help, and let her know that she has a support system available to her. She deserves to live a happy and healthy life.



My younger sister had an eating disorder while in high school, and I was able to support her in her journey to recovery. It's essential to be patient and approach the matter with compassion and sensitivity.

One approach that worked for us was to create achievable goals along the road to recovery. Start with small steps and build slowly. Even the tiniest steps count; for example, if your daughter has avoided eating her favorite fruit because of the sugar content, begin by eating one piece of it per day, until she becomes comfortable with adding more.

It's also critical to note that an eating disorder is not a choice or a "fad diet." It's essential to understand that disordered eating behavior is a symptom of underlying emotional issues. Therefore, it's important to provide your daughter with a safe and loving environment where she can express herself.

Further, it's crucial to educate yourself about eating disorders and learn what you can do to support your daughter. Seeking help from professionals such as nutritionists, psychologists or psychiatrists who specialize in treating eating disorders can make a significant difference.

Lastly, it's important to cater to your daughter's individual needs throughout the recovery process. What works for one person may not work for another. Give your daughter the chance to lead the way to her recovery, and don't pressure her to move too fast or too slow.

In summary, recovery from an eating disorder can be challenging, but with the right support, education, and patience, it's possible. You are doing a great job by taking the steps to support your daughter.


Hey there,

I was in a similar situation to your daughter, where I struggled with disordered eating behaviors as a teenager. It certainly wasn't easy, but with time and effort, I was able to overcome it. Here are a few things that I found helpful:

1. Be patient and kind - Change doesn't happen overnight, and recovery from disordered eating can be a slow process. It's important to be patient with yourself or loved one and avoid getting frustrated if things don't improve immediately. Remember to be kind to yourself or loved one and celebrate even the small steps along the way.

2. Encourage autonomy – It's important to listen to your daughter and value her perspective. Help her take an active role in her recovery and encourage her to make recovery goals that feel manageable for her.

3. Create a non-judgmental environment – Avoid making negative comments about others' bodies or appearance. Try to avoid discussing diets or appearance-related goals. Instead, focus on your daughter's recovery and encourage healthy and positive body image.

4. Stay informed – Educate yourself on the challenges of eating disorders and how to support those who are struggling. There is a significant amount of information available on the internet, as well as support groups that can provide guidance and resources for both you and your daughter.

I hope that these suggestions help you and your daughter. Remember that recovery from disordered eating is possible with patience and support. Good luck!


Hey there,

I completely understand what you are going through. Although I did not struggle with an eating disorder myself, my best friend did, and I was able to support her throughout the recovery process.

One thing that worked well for my friend's recovery was creating structure in her routine. Creating a routine with regular meal times can help reduce anxiety around food and help with weight gain. We would plan meals together and make sure she was getting enough nutrients to support her body.

As a support system, it's essential to educate yourself on disordered eating behaviors, attend therapy sessions with or without your daughter, and learn how to provide support without judgment. It's important to understand that recovery from eating disorders requires a holistic approach, including emotional support and physical care.

Lastly, it's crucial to help your daughter understand that her worth is not based on her appearance. Help her discover activities she enjoys that have nothing to do with looks or weight so that she can build self-confidence and self-worth beyond her physical appearance.

It's a challenging road to recovery, but with a supportive community, an empathetic environment, and professional help, your daughter can overcome her disordered eating habits and achieve a healthy and happy life.


Hi there,

I can only imagine how hard it must be for you to watch your daughter go through this challenging time. I personally have never struggled with disordered eating behaviors myself, but I have worked as a dietitian for the last decade and have seen many people in my practice overcome their eating disorders. Here are a few tips that could help:

1. Seek a professional diagnosis - Before taking any action, it is crucial to determine the severity of the situation by seeking a professional diagnosis from a licensed healthcare provider. They will then create a customized plan for your daughter's recovery.

2. Avoid negative reinforcement - Negative comments, anger, or judgment will make your daughter feel ashamed and guilty, and can worsen eating disorder symptoms. Instead, use positive reinforcement to motivate her towards recovery. Encourage her to adopt healthy habits at her own pace.

3. Address the emotional causes - Usually, eating disorders are not just about food but a symptom of emotional distress. In most cases, therapy is needed to help her identify her triggers, underlying emotions, and regulate her mood while addressing her distorted beliefs about food.

4. Create a support system - Encourage your daughter to participate in a support group, find a sponsor, or connect with someone who has overcome an eating disorder. This way, she can build a community that focuses on positivity, recovery, and hope.

Remember that recovery is a process that requires patience and support. With professional help and a strong support system, your daughter can overcome her disordered eating habits and live a full, happy life.

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