I caught a loved one vomiting, or binging.

Should I tell him / her? Why? How? tips to make the decision suits you and to preserve relationship.

I caught a loved one vomiting, or binging.

Bulimia and binge-eating disorders can be potentially life-threatening or life-limiting for anyone caught in the grips of the disease. People who binge-eat lose control of what and how much they eat and the intervals they leave between meals. This can lead to purging by excessive exercise, use of laxatives and diuretics and forced vomiting. [1]


When you catch a loved one showing signs of vomiting or binging, it can be difficult to know how to approach the situation. It may be hard to know what to do for the best. If you decide to confront your loved one, it is important to have a plan. Confrontation can be difficult and result in denial in those facing the disease. However, if a loved one does deny the problem, you have still planted a seed and began to set things in motion. Sooner or later the loved one struggling with the disease will recognise or admit they have a problem.


A plan written by Heather L. Howard illustrates how to confront a loved one with an eating disorder. [2]

C- Concern

It is important to consider why you are confronting your loved one. You are concerned about the physical, mental and nutritional needs of your loved one and want to help.

O- Organize

Coping with a situation like this will need more than one person. Decide who is involved and who would be the best to be involved. For example, parents and a doctor. Make sure it’s someone who the loved one can trust. Decided where to confront your loved one and why? Decide how to talk to the loved one and when would be the appropriate design to do so.

N- Needs

After confronting your loved one, it is important not to ‘dump and run’. Don’t confront someone and then leave them isolated and without support. Consider what your loved one will need after being confronted. For example, can you put any professional help in place or research support groups?

F- Face

Time for the actual confrontation. Make sure you don’t present as an intervention. You do not want your loved one to feel intimidated or overpowered. Remember to be empathetic. This is very difficult time. Your loved one will probably deny the problem to start with but don’t back down.

R- Respond

Listen carefully to your loved one. Don’t focus on the food rather than their feelings and remember to validate their feelings. [1]

O- Offer

Offer your support. You might want to encourage your loved one to contact you when they need to talk. You can offer suggestions but don’t try to control the situation. Your loved one is in a disease where they have lost all control and it could have a negative impact by feeling controlled by another person.


Consider another time to talk or a time span to ask for help. Don’t force the situation but make sure your loved one knows you are there to help.

T- Time

Recovery takes time. Eating disorders are a period of intense emotions and stress. Recovery will take patience and time. Your loved one has a lot to process and a lot to gain but there is also a lot to lose if they don’t get help.


1. Hagenes, T. (2020). Binge-eating Disorder: What You Should Not Do As You Help Your Loved One | Emma Cooper. Retrieved 21 January 2020, from https://www.emmacooper.org/five-mistakes-to-avoid-committing-when-helping-a-loved-one-with-binge-eating-disorder/

2. (2020). Retrieved 21 January 2020, from https://www.mhankyswoh.org/Uploads/files/pdfs/EatingDisorders-ConfrontingSomeoneWith_20130812.pdf

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Melissa Richards
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