Eating Disorders are not about food….

Recently I got an e-mail from a colleague asking if we had a tip sheet to give to students about what to do when a friend or family member they cared about has an eating disorder. You see we recently reviewed and replaced a lot of our tip sheets and there were a few areas we didn’t do. Some were an oversight, like the one on Sleep (we will do this one so stay tuned). Others were because we identified organisations that had good fact sheets that we didn’t think we could improve on. One of these organisations was The Butterfly Foundation, who have a number of fact sheets on different eating disorders and also how family and friends could be supportive. Given there are good resources in existence here I thought a link to them rather than creating our own would be a better idea.

Having said that it doesn’t mean I can’t blog about the issues and jot down the main points that might help you if you have a friend or family member with an eating disorder. So here they are:

  • If you are worried about a friend and suspect that it might be an eating disorder, or anything else then it’s a good idea to let them know you are worried. You could suggest they talk to their GP about it or if they are a student at UON they could see a Student Support Advisor – Health and Welfare to talk about their options for support.
  • If you already know that your friend or family member has an eating disorder then do some research yourself and understand the actual facts rather than the myths of eating disorders.
  • People with eating disorders often feel isolated and alone so stay connected with them and include them in your activities and invitations, even if they often say no.
  • Act normally around food and remember that it’s not your job to tell them what and when to eat.
  • Have conversations about things not related to their eating disorder and encourage them when they are making progress.

Of course there is more information and tips available on the Butterfly Foundation tip sheet if you want to know more. Or you can contact The Butterfly Foundation Support Line on 1800334673.

If you are interested in contributing to the development of new resources around getting help and information for Eating Disorders then you can participate in a Community Focus Group being run by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health. The Newcastle focus group is on Saturday the 30th April and Sydney is Thursday 28th April. For more information contact Jessica Roberts (




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