5 Real Ways To Handle An Eating Disorder

TW: This post references a number of eating disorders and their symptoms, so please skip if you feel that will be triggering for you!

It’s hard to come across someone who hasn’t been affected by an eating disorder–anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, or EDNOS–in some way. Whether it’s you, a friend, or a family member who has been affected, the scope of disordered eating reaches far and wide.

While these disorders are relatively common, actually dealing with them–which many of you are trying to do– is much tougher. So, without further ado, here are five of your real questions about eating disorders, answered:

My Friend Has Anorexia And Her Family Won’t Do Anything

Can someone please provide some guidance….a dear friend of mine is anorexic and also purges. She is 13 years old and has already been hospitalized twice this year (low weight). The father is in denial…he doesn’t want to listen to anyone, including the doctors that it is a mental issue as well. The doctors, on the other hand treat the physical aspect, but not so much the mental. I would like to help, but not sure how…can I talk to her? If so, what? Would appreciate any advice….I know professional help would be best, but not sure if this is an option at this time. Thank you. Joanne

Hi Joanne:

First of all, it’s so, so admirable that you want to help out your friend even if her family doesn’t want to deal with it. This is tough, however, because, as someone who’s had friends with similar issues, it’s very likely that your friend won’t want to talk about it or seek help. There is stuff you can do, however. The first thing to do is to set aside some time to talk and make sure that they don’t have an excuse to just get up and leave. Then, when you talk to them about it, make sure that what you’re communicating is that you love them and you’re very concerned about them. Don’t say too much specifically regarding their body–like “You’re too skinny,” or “I know that you haven’t been eating.” This can come off as though you are attacking them, rather than encouraging them to get better, and thus make them less inclined to listen to you and get help. Instead, just let them know how much you want them to get better and that you’ll be there for them throughout the process. Also, you don’t have to do this alone! Find a trusted adult and let them know what’s happening–even if her parents don’t want to get involved, there are definitely other options for support. For more ideas on how to talk to your friend, as well as other resources to seek out, check out this website. Good luck!



I Can’t Eat In Front Of My Boyfriend

My boyfriend wants to take me out for ice cream and pay! I didn’t want to be rude and turn down his genuinely sweet offer so I said that I would love to. Now, I’m giving myself panic attacks trying to think of a way to get out of this date because eating in front of him would kill me! Three years ago I suffered from anorexia and the thought of eating in front of anyone (even my parents) scares me because I got into the routine of never eating when someone is around because in my mind I was “fat.” What should I do? Lily

Hi Lily:

You’re definitely not alone here. Lots of people get squeamish at the thought of eating in front of people (and not just girls–one of my guy friends refuses to eat in front of girls), and having had an eating disorder in the past only exacerbates that. So, here’s what I think you should do: If you really feel like you can’t eat in front of your boyfriend, you definitely don’t have to. Tell him that you think his date idea is so sweet and you really appreciate the thought he put into it, but you’d rather do something else. If you feel comfortable talking to him about your struggles with anorexia, tell him that that’s the reason–you don’t even have to go into great detail, you can just say that it’s hard for you to eat in front of people now. If you don’t want to talk about it yet–which is totally fine–just say that you don’t love ice cream and try to think of alternative date idea, like mini golf or a movie. You can offer to pay for the date too, if you feel like being extra-chivalrous. He definitely won’t mind then!

Also, it sounds like you might still be dealing with some effects of the disorder. Make sure that you keep that in mind–not eating in front of people for a little bit is okay, but when it becomes a habit that you can’t break, it could mean that you still have a problem. Try to keep dealing with it and remember that one day, you will be able to eat in front of your boyfriend! Good luck.


How Can I Stop My Bulimia?

I’ve been struggling a lot with cutting and bulimia for a while now, but I’ve been trying to get better. My parents are divorced and I get so mad and sad that I want to die. But I’ve been listening to a lot of Demi Lovato’s music lately and it has helped me quite a bit. What else can I do?- Emma

Hi Emma:

I’m so sorry that you’re dealing with this stuff right now, but it sounds like you’re already on the right track in terms of acknowledging your feelings and making attempts to get better. Demi Lovato is actually a really great person to look up to in this case–she’s dealt with self-harm and bulimia too and is currently a huge advocate for body positivity and self love. So definitely keep listening to her music if that makes you feel better. She’s also a great person to follow on social media because she posts a lot of stuff about self-love and body acceptance, which can be really great to see if you’re struggling with similar issues.

Also, if possible, please try to seek some outside help! If you feel comfortable talking to your parents about possibly seeing a therapist, that would be great. If not, try to talk to a school counselor or teacher who can help you figure out your next steps. For now, please check out these websites. Good luck!


My Boyfriend Told Me To Lose Weight And Now I Have An Eating Disorder: 

My boyfriend broke up with me for being fat, right when I had just lost thirty pounds. This majorly hurt my self esteem and now I believe I have an eating disorder because I’m hitting the gym hard and barely eating. What should I do? Christine

Hi Christine:

Ugh. It sucks when anyone tells you what to do with your body, and it especially sucks when it comes from someone who theoretically loves and cares about you. The obvious answer–which I’m sure a lot of people have said to you already– is to go easy on the gym and eat more, but, of course, it’s not that easy. Try to remember that your self worth does not have to be tied to your body or any varying levels of approval or disapproval from men. Then, tell a trusted adult that you think you might have started some dangerous eating disorder-adjacent habits. They might not be fully aware that you’re going through this dangerous behavior, especially since it seems like it happened pretty recently. Having someone around who’s aware of what’s going on can be really, really, helpful in terms of working on recovery.

Also, for good measure, just get or ex out of your life. Unfriend/unfollow him on whatever social media he’s on and delete him from your phone. You don’t need any reminder of him, and what he said to you, in your life. Good luck!


Could I Have An Eating Disorder Without Knowing It?

Just to give you some background, I have always been a skinny girl growing up, and somewhat active throughout my life. I’ve also always had a small frame. Now, I’m 20 going into my second year of college. My mom keeps pointing out to me that I am too skinny, and that I need to start eating more. It bothers me so much that she tells me that, and I’m starting to get worried for myself, because it’s kinda true. Could I have an eating disorder that I don’t know about? I want help, please! –Monica

Hi Monica,

While it’s possible that you could have an eating disorder without knowing about it, it’s pretty unlikely. Think about your current diet–it could just be possible that you’re missing certain nutrients. This is especially true if you’re the kind of person who just forgets to eat sometimes (my little brother is like that–my mom always has ask him if he’s hungry and then he’s like, “Oh, yeah.”).

So, my advice is to not focus on gaining weight, necessarily, but just to be more conscious of what you’re eating. If you’re listening to your body and eating healthy food whenever you’re hungry–healthy fats, like avocados and walnuts, would probably be especially helpful for you–don’t worry about feeling like your body isn’t “right” just because other people feel concerned. Good luck!


Have you ever dealt with an eating disorder? How did you handle it? Let us know in the comments below!

You can reach the author, Sara Hendricks, on Twitter and Instagram.

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