Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services

Eating Disorder Service

Information for family and friends

What to do if your child is not eating enough

  • Make a relationship with your child unrelated to eating
    • Take time to engage in activities that you both enjoy together
    • Watch a film, listen to music together
    • Be curious about your child’s interests and tastes
  • Make family meals a priority
    • Sit down together
    • Make them fun/enjoyable
    • Use the opportunity to discuss things as a family
    • Take turns to cook for each other
  • Find out if there is anything worrying your child
    • Concerns at school or work?
    • Concerns with friends?
    • Concerns in the family?
  • If appropriate, keep an eye on what your child is eating at home and at school
    • Check if food is left on the plate or put in the bin
    • Notice if your child is starting to avoid certain foods, particularly foods high in calories
    • Notice if your child is cutting down portion sizes
  • Be aware of any physical problems
    • If your child appears to be losing  weight suggest they might go to the GP for a check-up
    • Help book the appointment and go with them if at all possible
  • Look out for early signs of an eating disorder
    • Becoming secretive about eating
    • Starting to wear baggy clothes
    • Feeling the cold
    • Expressing concerns about their body weight or shape
    • Taking a long time in the bathroom after meals
    • Taking more interest than usual in cooking or cookery books
    • Exercising more than usual, particularly exercise on their own
  •  Read relevant books/websites

Last updated: 2 April, 2019