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Beauty & Fashion

Q&A – I’m Afraid My Friend Has an Eating Disorder. What Should I Do?

Question:

My close friend and teammate Lauren recently lost the rest of her “baby fat” and looks and feels much healthier and more confident. She eats, but it’s much smaller portion sizes (she says she’s just not eating oversized portions, though). When I talk to her about weight, body image, eating habits, and that sort of thing she doesn’t overreact or say she feels fat or anything, but she seems too skinny to me. Also, she used to cut, but has been clean for months now. Do you think she has begun not eating enough as some sort of relapse?

I’m concerned she’s not eating enough for fear of putting the weight back on – how can I best help her? I know you were up close and personal with the sad side of the modeling industry, so maybe you have an idea of how to help her.

Answer:

Recently I wrote about my own struggles with anorexia and my advice for the girl who thought she herself had an eating disorder is relevant here.

I’m glad you wrote to me, and I wish I lived up the block so I could sit down with her and have a heart to heart. Because I can’t talk directly to your friend, you will need to carry the message…from me and from everyone who has struggled with eating disorders and seen the destruction they cause on bodies and on lives.

Sit down with her and ask her straight up if she thinks she may have an eating disorder. If she admits to it, urge her to talk to an adult about it. They can help her get the support she needs to overcome this. If she doesn’t admit to it, bring your concerns to a trusted adult. I’m not asking you to be a tattletale. I’m asking you to be a friend. The adult may have a perspective that helps you or your friend figure out what the next steps are.

I’m praying for you and your friend to have the strength to get through your struggles, and I’m proud of her for giving up cutting.

Girls, have you ever confronted a friend who you suspect has an eating disorder? How did it turn out? Do you have any advice for this Project Inspired reader?

Image: iStock Photo

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27 Comments

  1. Project Inspired

    Posted by LittleAngel on June 22, 2012 at 16:05

    I had a friend who was anorexic… at the moment, we aren’t having so many contact because I moved and I see her rarely but she completely recovered. She was in a hospital and visited a therapist and so she got better, but shes still really ambitious and never ever content about what she does. So its still really sad that she can’t feel well about herself but she got better and I’m glad her parents “hospitalized” her, it really did help.

  2. Pingback: Whatevershelby » Blog Archive » Inner beauty, What’s that?

  3. Project Inspired

    Posted by GlitterDragons on March 7, 2012 at 20:48

    I cut myself, too, and I think I need to talk to someone else about this bulimia.

  4. Project Inspired

    Posted by tory on January 4, 2012 at 07:57

    A while back I was feeling really badly about myself. I promised myself I would take half the food I was about to eat and put it back. Then I heard a story of this lady and he husband she felt like she wasnt pretty almost the same thing that I felt. She later told me God made you and saying that Im not skinny enough or tall enough is like saying God you did an bad job making you. You cant say that to God or yourself anymore. These people that I listened to are a band actually called White Collar Sideshow and they are really helpful.So if you having an eating disorder or your friend and they know Jesus Christ as their savoir then talk to them about this it really helped me.

  5. Project Inspired

    Posted by Amy on November 17, 2011 at 18:19

    I don’t have a friend who struggles with an eating disorder…but I do have a friend who is eating WAY fewer calories than she should (and she is by no means overweight) I talked to my Grandma, whose a nurse, and she agrees that my friend should be eating more. It makes me nervous to see her counting calories and talking about diets when she’s only a young teen. I’ve talked to my parents, and we’ve both agreed that the best thing to do right now is take it to God.

    I used to deal with not liking how I looked, I never had an eating disorder, but I certainly came close to dealing with one. It breaks my heart to see girls hurting themselves to feel “beautiful”.

    Thank you so much Nicole, for all the pictures and articles you post about inner beauty! It is SO encouraging, and a message that girls every where should hear 🙂 Blessings!

    • Project Inspired

      Posted by pmmorin on December 16, 2011 at 19:31

      hey nicole. i recently got over an eating disoder, but i still feel overweight. im about to turn 15. im about 5’4 or 5’5 and i weigh about 133/132 lb. i really want to lose the extra weight, but im scared that i’ll have a relapse. im already in involved in basketball,and i ran x-country in the fall. i try to watch what i get without getting obsessive about it, but its really hard after what i went through. do you have advice on how to lose weight and still be healthy?

      • Posted by Nicole on December 20, 2011 at 13:46

        Try pilates… it is great for elongating your muscles and giving you a thinner appearance! I am praying for you 🙂

  6. Posted by on October 28, 2011 at 12:20

    i have found out recently that im an anorexic no matter how many times people say im pretty i still feel fat im 4’11” and i weigh about 99pounds im about to be fifteen i tried commiting suicide becuase i hate my reflection am i fat and if so what should i do? someone please help me :'(

    • Posted by Nicole on October 29, 2011 at 14:42

      Natie you are SO beautiful and so healthy! your body is God’s temple and the Holy Spirit lives within you. Do not let Satan tell you you’re ugly, that’s one of his lies!! I am praying for you. Keep coming back here for support ok? I love you!

  7. Posted by on October 6, 2011 at 18:37

    Nicole, i need advice on this:

    i dont know what this is but lately for the past couple weeks i’ve been skipping lunch at school(not eating any of it). and i haven’t been eating breakfast, i never do. and at home when i eat dinner i dont eat a lot of it. i know i should eat, but i cant bring my self to it. i dont have that good of a self esteem. ad i have been only really drinking water. i’m in marching band, we run a lap around the track which is by our practice field, and, well idk…..

    • Posted by Nicole on October 8, 2011 at 13:20

      please seek some help from a counselor, or tell your parents. It’s best to stop anorexia in its tracks before its too late!

  8. Posted by on September 22, 2011 at 19:58

    I have an aquantiance that I know from school who has obviously gone through unhealthy weight loss. She was beautiful and very much in shape to begin with, she had lovely feminine curves, pretty hair and a petite build (she is a ballet dancer) I didn’t see her over the summer, and during the first week of school when I first saw her I couldn’t believe my eyes; she had changed from a glowing, healthy teenage girl to a gaunt, sallow faced slip of a thing. her skin has developed a yellow color, and her cheeks are hollow. her arms are unthinkably slim as are her legs. She has no curves now, and it seems like it hurts for her to move/walk. The only think I’ve ever seen her eating is an apple, which she didn’t finish, and she’s always drinking coffee.

    My heart brakes for her, but I feel like it’s not my place to talk to her- I hardly know her! I’ve had band with her for one year, we never really talked then (I was percussion section, she plays the flute) and since then I’ve had maybe two other classes with her. I know she knows who I am, she told me she liked my book cover (which I made myself, sort of like an art collage) and she knows my name, etc. I feel awful not knowing what to do. I’ve talked to others about her too, but no one feels comfortable enough to bring it up to her. Maybe it’s because she’s pressured into being thin within her dance schedule? Or maybe because her mom is really skinny too, unhealthy looking for a woman of her age (low forties) …..
    any suggestions on what I should do? Will you please pray for her? Her name is Rachael (I thought I’de share, her name is somewhat common)

  9. Posted by on September 16, 2011 at 14:40

    I’ve recently just overcome an eating disorder and many of my close friends have had them. You need to be calm about it, show them you care. Don’t yell or get mad at them for it, it’s really not their fault its just been ingraved in our mind that skinny equals beauty. Plus if you get upset with them they usually just lie about it, which is what I did. Instead, just sit down and talk with them. Tell a trustworthy adult that won’t judge. If a friend did tell you they have an eating disorder, then they’re crying out for help. If you didn’t want help then you would have kept it a secret right? Show them alternatives like exercising and eating healthier. Girls now a days really don’t know how beautiful they truly are. And this isn’t just for girls, boys suffer with this too. But God is with all of us and we are all equally as beautiful no matter what size, color, or gender we are. You are beautiful. 🙂

  10. Posted by on August 22, 2011 at 12:08

    well wht if this friend rly might not have an eating diorder. u ca go on a diet to lose weight bt tht doesnt make u an anorexic. maybe ses just being smart b eatng less. maybe she doesnt want tobgo back to her old eatng habits and gain the weight all back. romans 14:3says… let not the one who eats despie the one who abstains and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats for God has welcomed him…

  11. Posted by on August 11, 2011 at 20:49

    let someone know. i had an eating disorder, and i guarantee you that if your friend is in the thick of an ED, she’ll die before she admits it. Talk to her about your concerns. Use “I” statements (I am concerned about you) instead of “you” statements (you don’t eat enough). BE GENTLE! do NOT give simple solutions to the issue (Just eat and you’ll be fine) or say/do ANYTHING that even sounds/comes across as REMOTELY blaming, shaming, and accusatory. Avoid conflict. Chances are she won’t admit there’s a problem; the ED is something she views as hers and hers alone. She doesn’t want to have it ‘taken away’ from her by friends, family, and professionals. It’s her attempt at controlling something in her life; it makes her feel special. You mentioned sje used to cut, and that is not uncommon in ED sufferers. If she didn’t receive therapy for that, she should have. Something in her life is VERY VERY VERY WRONG, and she’s coping the only way she knows how. The best you can do is whatever you can. So wether you talk to her about your concerns or not, tell an adult you trust. Don’t wait to see if the problem continues (which it will if she doesn’t get treatment). EDs do not get better with time, and she’s not going to ‘outgrow’ it or be able to stop herself. Your friend needs help. It sounds like she’s in no state to ask for it herself, so the best you can do is bring it to her. Yes, she might get mad. But she’ll probably also be relieved. People become anorexic because they wish to be invisible. They believe they don’t matter, and they want to just disappear. So they waste themselves away. She’s asking for someone to see her; she WANTS help, whether or not she’ll admit it, whether or not she even KNOWS it! So do something, please.

  12. Posted by on August 10, 2011 at 20:25

    I’m starting to wonder if I have a eating disorder. I’m 5’8 and my weight went from 140 to 120. And my clothes are pretty baggy on me. Every-time I eat I feel guilty and sick. I know I’m not bulimic though. (I’ve been tempted to vomit after I’ve eaten though) I’ve also cut back my eating portions. I’m just not sure. I feel very insecure about my body and stuff.

    • Posted by Nicole on August 16, 2011 at 14:12

      ohmygosh. 120 is NOT healthy for 5’8.”. I am 5’10” myself and weigh 146. And I still look pretty thin! Please, please get help because you are way too thin and you need to stop letting your guilty feelings keeping you from eating!

  13. Posted by on August 9, 2011 at 09:47

    Make sure she understands… God is our Heavenly Father, and when we hurt ourselves, it hurts Him too, even more than it hurts us as friends. He didnt create our bodies to go thru that. Not to mention, if we harm someone else, it would be considered a sin, right? it doesnt make it any less a sin when its our own self we hurt.

  14. Posted by on August 8, 2011 at 12:33

    Haven’t had a friend with this problem, but I struggled with it for a little while. You should just tell her that you care about her and that she’s beautiful. Just let her know that she is not alone. Tell her about Jesus, or simply remind her. But no matter what, if you truly think she has an eating disorder, don’t ignore the feeling. No one ever found out about my problems. I had to tell my daddy. Back then, it just made me feel worse because no one ever noticed. Don’t ignore the signs. It’s not going to be easy( nothing about a situation like this is easy) but try your best and pray on it every day.

  15. Posted by on August 8, 2011 at 12:16

    I dont know if I have a eating Disorder or not

    • Posted by on August 9, 2011 at 09:45

      if you’re not sure, then you probably do or are heading that way. please get help!

    • Posted by Nicole on August 8, 2011 at 12:54

      do you restrict your calories dramatically? If you think you do please contact an adult!

  16. Posted by on August 8, 2011 at 11:53

    I once had a friend in sixth grade who was anorexic and wouldn’t eat anything. We (her friends) tried to get her to eat, but she wouldn’t. It eventually got so bad, the back of her jeans were sagging. That was when we pulled our counselor into it. She talked to her, and she’s perfectly healthy now. My advice would be–make sure it’s an eating disorder, then tell an adult you trust if she doesn’t start improving.

  17. Posted by on August 8, 2011 at 11:30

    I never had a friend with an eating disorder but I have felt very insecure about myself to the point where I didn’t want to eat, the only advice I have is to tell your friend that she’s beautiful in her own skin, nd if she hasn’t to listen to this song by mercyme, it’s called “Beautiful” I hope it helps 🙂

  18. Posted by ParisHolt on August 8, 2011 at 09:43

    One sure fire way that you can overcome it is by praying. God does not want us to destroy our bodies becuase he thinks that they are absolutely gorgeous,and they are! You should tell her that you are worried,and mabye she’ll realize that she’s not eating healthy. Also,if you get some of her favorite foods, she might eat then,too,

  19. Posted by on August 8, 2011 at 07:49

    I first thought something was wrong with my best friend when she refused to eat more than just a cup of yogurt at lunch every day. When she did eat more, she would always quickly go to the bathroom, saying that she didn’t feel good. One day I asked her if she thought she had an eating disorder, and she said maybe but she didn’t know who to tell or what to tell them. The next day, I went up to our health/PE teacher and told her what was going on. She said I did the right thing with coming to her, and now my friend is seeing a therapist to help her with her eating struggles. It can only benefit someone by telling an adult. They might be mad at you at first, but in the long run, they will be thanking you for ultimately saving them.

    • Project Inspired

      Posted by RyleighGiraffeFarar on May 12, 2012 at 19:06

      did u know that if they go immediately to the bathroom they gag the food out of them? that means they have bolimia! That is a very very bad diseease and can burn a hole in your esophagous. I am a science geek. jus’ ignore this! 😛