helping a loved one who is struggling with binge eating
Binge Eating

How to Help Someone Struggling with Binge Eating

February 13, 2023

Ryann Nicole

Hi, I’m Ryann.

Your Not-So-Average Food Freedom Therapist & Virtual Coach. As a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Certified Nutritionist with a BA in Psychology, and a MA in Professional Counseling, yes I do a little of the "so how does that make you feel".

But my ultimate goal is to provide you with the resources you need, in an easy-to-understand way, on healing your disordered relationship with food and your body. 

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Binge Eating

Healthy Habits

Body Image

Emotional Eating

Mental Health 

Do you want to help someone struggling with binge eating? Do you feel helpless, confused, or at a loss for what you can do to support them? Understandable! Disordered eating can be very difficult for anyone without this issue to comprehend. So let’s start by defining eating disorders and specifically binge eating. 

  • An eating disorder is a serious mental and physical illness that can affect anyone regardless of gender, age, race, ethnicity, weight, shape, or size. The cause is not entirely understood, but research suggests it mixes biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors. 
  • Binge eating is when someone frequently consumes unusually large amounts of food (very quickly and to the point of discomfort) and feels unable to stop.

7 Things You Can Do To Help Someone Struggling With Binge Eating

With that understanding, it’s time to share what you can do to help someone struggling with binge eating:

01. Work on your relationship with food and your body

‘But it’s not about me!’ I know that’s how you might see it, but trust me, to them, it could be *about you.* If you secretly (or not so secretly) have an unhealthy relationship with food – even if you aren't binge eating – your loved one picks up on that. 

Therefore, one of the BEST ways you can help someone struggling with binge eating is to show them what a healthy relationship with food looks like! They will watch you and emulate you… maybe more than you realize.

02. Get rid of those diet items in your house – 👋 BYE 

I’m talking about food scales, body weight scales, Beachbody containers, diet books, or anything that screams “diet!” If you want to help someone struggling with binge eating, let's help them by making their environment safer. 

Note: If getting rid of these things is a problem, go back to number 1 (work on your relationship with food and body). 

03. No more food and body talk – 👋 SEE YA

If you want to help someone struggling with binge eating, do not comment on food or body image around them. No matter how well-intended, food and body comments are never helpful. If they talk about food, their body, or their weight negatively, don’t engage. These conversations aren’t helpful and can often do more harm than good.

Instead, let’s talk about the following: 

  • Things they enjoy 
  • How their day was 
  • Events you have coming up 
  • Happy moments 

04. Stay in your lane

Eeeek, I know this is hard, but it’s so important. Unless you are an eating disorder professional, your advice about what they should or shouldn’t be doing to heal doesn’t have a place. (I know, tough love.) This person may need professional help, and you may need your own support. Their binge eating doesn’t just affect them; it also affects you! Continue to care for your own mental, physical, and emotional needs while helping your loved one get support from a professional.

05. Be their safe space

If you want to help someone struggling with binge eating, be their safe space.  Be the person they KNOW they can be with and not someone they feel is watching their every move or going to constantly lecture them or judge them. 

Eat real meals with them. Sit down at the table to eat with them. Calm them. Love them. Support them.

06. Let them decide when they are ready

Not everyone is ready for recovery. If they aren’t asking for it, unwanted advice (or forced therapy) may not be well-received, and you might be wasting your money. 

It’s hard. It’s so hard. But as someone who wasn’t ready and went to therapy TWICE before finally being ready, I can tell you that it will not work. They must hit rock bottom. They must want it for themselves. This is why focusing on taking care of yourself (re: step four) is so important.

07. Educate yourself

Learn as much as you can about binge eating and eating disorders. So many amazing books, articles, and resources are available to help. Deciphering facts from myths will help you understand your loved one better and will allow you to help them in the most supportive way.

Here are a few social media accounts that are extremely helpful: 






Here are a few books to read: 

Intuitive Eating 

Health At Every Size 

The Body Is Not An Apology 

Life Without Ed 

How To Help Someone Struggling With Binge Eating TLDR;

Too long didn’t read: Eating disorders of any kind are incredibly complex mental and physical illnesses. And it can be tough to want to help someone struggling with binge eating and not know what to do. I empathize with you and know you want to help! By educating yourself, offering the right kind of support, making the home a safe space, and avoiding unhelpful topics,  you are making great strides in helping to support your loved one. It may take time, and it may feel uncomfortable, but your support could be a real game-changer for them.

PS Want to hear what experiencing binge eating is actually like? 

Listen to the detailed version of my binge eating story

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