How A Support System Can Help

As mentioned in previous posts, bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder and that it focuses on control. Essentially, it is about monitoring your food intake and weight carefully enough to binge-eat and then purge immediately after to avoid the effects of the food. Because of this, you are not in control. Your disorder is.


While therapy and treatment are both necessary to recovery, so is a support system. You can’t beat an eating disorder by yourself, which is why you have a therapist to give you the tools and coping strategies needed for recovery. However, you also need a support system outside of your treatment. Your friends and family can help give you strength and courage when you’re scared and want to give up.

At a larger social level are the influences of pressure and advertisements on children and adults of what constitutes a perfect body and the ways that food, or lack thereof, may achieve that. — Leslie E. Korn Ph.D., MPH, LMHC, ACS, NTP

One of the most important things about a support system is that it shows you that you matter and that people care about you just the way you are. Your friends can help reassure when you feel afraid or tell you that you’re beautiful when you feel anything but. It’s extremely important that you have a support system because it will provide you with a safe and healthy environment during your treatment.


If you go to therapy or spend time in a treatment center, then come to an isolated and painful environment, it will hurt and damage your recovery. You need to be surrounding by people who love and genuinely care for you in order for you to heal.

In many ways, recovery is about you as an individual learning to stand on your own and rely on your own strength. However, during the process, you need other people around to help you find that courage within yourself as you try to heal from your eating disorder and take back control of your life.

Oftentimes, symptoms and behaviors are rationalized and minimized by the person who engages in them. — Lisa Ferentz LCSW-C, DAPA

If you have to spend every minute outside of recovery trying to deal with an unhealthy and damaging environment, then your recovery will be negatively effected. A strong support system leads to a generally better well-being, as well as increased confidence and positive thinking. Having people that you’re comfortable with around also aids in limiting stress so you can focus on your recovery. If you’re preoccupied with trying to stay positive and healthy in your home life or relationships, you can’t devote the necessary attention to recovering from your disorder.


A strong support system isn’t just about counteracting the negative. It is also about celebrating the good. You need people around you to celebrate each victory you achieve, even if you think it’s small. Every step forward in your recovery is worth acknowledging and praising. You’ve worked hard in your treatment and a support system can help you realize the lengths you’ve already reached, as well as the future accomplishments that you will achieve in your recovery.

Support helps you stay focused and positive, even when treatment gets rough. Even if you relapse, which happens to everyone and doesn’t make you a failure, your support system can help you pick yourself back up off the ground and work hard to do better next time. Your strength will help you immensely, but it’s okay to rely on the strength of your loved ones every once in a while. Sometimes you just need someone to tell you what you already know deep down—that you are loved and strong and worth it. That you can do this.

I have found over the course of many years of practice that educating patients and family members about the tenants and utility of varying theories and the practical application of theory i.e. treatment has enabled family members and patients to make sense of conditions that are complex and confusing. — Judy Scheel Ph.D., L.C.S.W., CEDS

Your support system may not necessarily be your family. It could be you friends or your peers. It all depends on your environment. It’s important that along with forming a strong support system, you avoid toxic people and remember to take care of yourself first. If you feel that someone is inhibiting your recovery in any way, you do not have to invite them into your life. Your health is more important that your silence.

Stay strong and remember that a support system is the key to having a successful recovery.