Information for families

Key points:

  • Your child may or may not have insight that they are ill
  • It’s important to know the warning signs of an eating disorder and take them seriously
  • Act early, and go to the GP

It can be difficult to tell if someone has an eating disorder, but it’s particularly important for family members and carers to learn the signs and what to look for. An eating disorder can develop gradually and you may observe personality and behaviour changes.

Parents often know when something is not quite right with their child, and are instrumental in identifying that their child may have an eating disorder. Become familiar with, and notice the various warning signs (behavioural, psychological and physical) – and take them seriously.

Your child may or may not have insight that he or she is ill and you may need to insist on assessment and treatment. Inquire compassionately to find out what is going on, and persevere in your attempts to help them get the support they need.

It is important to act early and go to the GP if you are worried about your son or daughter.

The Eating Disorders Victoria (EDV) website has many resources for family and carers, including information on support groups, self-care, and communication tips. You can contact the EDV Helpline on 1300 550 236 or at for confidential advice.

Feed Your Instinct is a web-based interactive tool developed by the Victorian Centre of Excellence in Eating Disorders (CEED). It was devised to help families to assess the early warning signs of eating disorders in their child. Critically, this tool provides an individualised evaluation of the behaviours the family is observing via a step-by-step Q&A format. Once users progress through the Q&A, they finish with a printable PDF report personalised to their child’s experience, which they can take to their local GP for action.

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