At least 30 million Americans experience some kind of eating disorder, according to the Eating Disorders Coalition. And almost half of Americans know someone who’s experienced disordered eating.

These mental health conditions, which can include food restricting, binging, or over-exercising, can affect anyone. However, they are typically more prevalent among young women, particularly teens.

Because so much in daily life can be triggering for survivors of eating disorders, online support groups can help those in recovery cope and find community as they heal.

The following outlines eight of the best online eating disorder support groups and why each one may be beneficial.

Eating disorder support groups provide a safe community for people in recovery from an eating disorder. Sometimes, these groups are led by a clinician or a moderator, however they are not meant to replicate or replace therapy or medical care.

Support groups specialize in offering peer-to-peer guidance, empathy, and emotional support.

Support groups can gather in person, but because of the ongoing pandemic, there are more options than ever for people to receive virtual support with online groups for eating disorder recovery.

To select the best online eating disorder support groups, we evaluated various platforms based on:

  • ease of use
  • cost
  • privacy
  • how they serve different communities and conditions

We also considered how these groups are moderated, as well as the guidelines for registering and participating.

Best overall

Center for Discovery

  • Price: Free

With over 20 years of experience and various centers in 13 states across the United States, Center for Discovery is an established leader in the eating disorder treatment field.

The organization provides weekly and bi-weekly general online support group meetings and more specific meetings for adolescents, BIPOC+, caregivers, and more.

Some groups are led by a clinician, while others are peer-to-peer support-based. All the meetings are held via Zoom, which is HIPPA compliant (meaning it’s private and secure).

Best anonymous option

18percent

  • Price: Free

18percent provides a free chat over Slack that allows people recovering from various mental health conditions, including eating disorders, to easily connect.

You don’t need to use your name, and since this site doesn’t use video chat or Zoom, you can keep your identity completely private. It’s a great option for anyone who’s not ready to join a face-to-face peer group but wants support.

This platform also provides continuing education for those who want to learn how to support others experiencing a crisis — taught by a licensed marriage and family therapist.

Best variety of groups option

Eating Recovery Center

  • Price: Free

The Eating Recovery Center has 35 facilities across the country dedicated to treating a variety of eating disorders in both adults and teens. The online support groups are broken down into specific disorders and groups, allowing people to find the best fit for them.

The center offers virtual groups for various communities and specialties — LGBTQ+, BIPOC+, college students, caregivers, bulimia, and overeating. There’s also groups for clinicians who want to connect regarding their patients.

Attendance for each group is capped at 15 participants, so everyone gets a chance to be heard.

Best for teens

National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders

  • Price: Free

The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD) is the oldest non-profit organization geared toward eating disorder recovery in the United States.

In addition to its daily helpline and email, ANAD provides school guidelines to help educators teach students about eating disorders and start a necessary conversation about body image.

This dedication to educating young people is part of what makes it our pick for the best platform for adolescents and teens. ANAD’s weekly adolescent and teen support group gives young people the opportunity to get free peer-to-peer support.

The organization also provides additional resources for teens and adolescents with a professionals directory, which can connect young people with a therapist in their area.

Best clinician-led group

Alliance for Eating Disorders

  • Price: Free

Founded in 2000 by eating disorder survivor Johanna Kandel, the Alliance for Eating Disorders provides inpatient, outpatient, and critical care at its Florida headquarters, as well as virtual and in-person support groups.

It is the only national organization to offer free, professionally moderated support groups each week. There are two groups: one for those in recovery and one for caregivers of those in recovery.

People who are interested in the recovery group can choose between two Zoom sessions each week: one during the week and one on weekends. The caregivers group meets once per week.

Best for moms

Rock Recovery Coffee & Conversation for Moms

  • Price: $35 per month (discount for multiple months), sliding scale available

It’s estimated that 50 to 80 percent of eating disorder risk is due to genetics, and research shows that kids can be at a higher risk of developing an eating disorder if their mother has one.

Recent research has also pointed to effects of a mother’s eating disorder on children as young as newborns.

This online group helps those experiencing eating disorder recovery, body image issues, and the general stress of motherhood. Led by a licensed professional counselor who’s an expert in eating disorder recovery and perinatal mood disorders, this group gives mothers an opportunity to find community and discuss everything from self-care to feeding their families.

Best for parents and caregivers

F.E.A.S.T. Around the Dinner Table Forum

  • Price: Free

This online support group forum began in 2004 as a way for caregivers and parents of children with eating disorders to connect. It remains the only global community for caregivers of children with eating disorders.

In 2007, the online community became the non-profit F.E.A.S.T., or Families Empowered And Supporting Treatment for Eating Disorders.

Once registered in the forum, caregivers and parents can respond to existing posts and create new posts, all of which are moderated 24/7.

F.E.A.S.T. also offers webinars for caregivers (and recordings that can be watched any time) and an online support group specifically for fathers and male partners.

Best for continued learning and support

Morningside Chats in the Living Room

  • Price: Free

For those seeking continued support and education in recovery, this weekly Zoom group offers a safe space to engage with eating disorder experts.

Each week, a new guest will share their perspective and expertise, allowing participants to take part in a casual dialogue. The sessions are hosted by Sondra Kronberg, the founder and executive director of the Eating Disorder Treatment Collaborative.

Morningside Chats is ideal for people seeking an informal way to get continued support without having to engage in a more moderated group setting. Participants can be completely anonymous, as only the host and expert guest are shown via video during each session.

Online eating disorder support groups can help those in recovery feel less alone.

“It’s incredibly powerful for individuals who are living with any form of mental health diagnosis to hear the words, ‘me too,’ from someone else,” says Dr. Caroline Fenkel, LCSW, the co-founder of virtual mental health clinic Charlie Health. “In that way, support groups for those who are in recovery from eating disorders can be helpful.”

By allowing people to connect with each other from their homes, and anonymously if needed, these online groups provide a necessary platform for community and healing.

What causes eating disorders?

Eating disorders can be caused by genetics, learned behaviors from family members or close friends, certain personality traits (like perfectionism), and societal pressures for the body to look a certain way.

Are eating disorder support groups effective?

According to Fenkel, anyone experiencing an acute mental health crises — which can sometimes present alongside eating disorders or in recovery from them — can benefit from a support group.

“Having shared experiences helps people feel less alone, like they’re part of a nonjudgmental community that can empathize with their journey,” she says.

Is an eating disorder support group right for you?

If you’re in recovery, an eating disorder support group can be a way to connect with others who are similarly healing.

However, for those with active eating disorders, Fenkel says that the style and level of care needed for treatment cannot be accomplished in a group setting.

“It’s important to meet with a licensed professional in order to know which issue needs to be treated first and how it should be treated,” she explains. “If an eating disorder isn’t properly treated, it can cause severe, potentially fatal side effects and long-term health consequences.”

Do eating disorder support groups cost money?

Some support groups require a fee or ask for a donation. Many are free.

Online eating disorder support groups can provide a safe space for those in recovery to share their feelings and everyday hardships. While these groups shouldn’t take the place of therapy or treatment, they can be a positive part of the recovery journey.

If you think you might have an eating disorder, get 24/7 support by contacting the National Eating Disorders Association.


Natasha Burton is a freelance writer and editor who has written for Cosmopolitan, Women’s Health, Livestrong, Woman’s Day, and many other lifestyle publications. She’s the author of What’s My Type?: 100+ Quizzes to Help You Find Yourself ― and Your Match!, 101 Quizzes for Couples, 101 Quizzes for BFFs, 101 Quizzes for Brides and Grooms, and the co-author of “The Little Black Book of Big Red Flags.” When she’s not writing, she’s fully immersed in #momlife with her toddler and preschooler.