Eating Disorder. Help.

Someone I care about very deeply is having problems with this. I would appreciate any help or advice anyone can give me. She says she just doesn’t get hungry. She’s lost 15 pounds and 5 inches off her waist in four or five months (without “trying” to lose weight). She’s not overweight. She’s not THIN, but she is most definitely not overweight. I don’t think the problem is how she views herself, but I don’t know that isn’t the case. I just don’t know what to do. Any advice would be really helpful. If you need more information about the situation to give advice, just ask. If you don’t want to post but have something to say, please email me.

Thank you for your help. . .

Are you sure she has an eating disorder? If she actually is not hungry and cannot eat, she may have an illness that should be diagnosed by an MD.

What eating disorder do you think she has? Anorexia? Bulimia?

Here are some links to get you started. Either way, try to encourage her to seek medical help.

Here’s a link to get you started- I also have a friend who has battled with bulimia for her whole life, if I can offer you any insight there.

I have a friend who is anorexic and I will tell you what we saw, and you can tell me if anything clicks.
Your friend might be right though about just not being hungry. I get like that sometimes where I won’t eat anything for days, and then I can’t get enough to eat. And before anybody jumps on me about it, I do know that that isn’t good either.
Lets see, my friend was down about everything all the time, she slept alot, and avoided people when they were eating. She could also come up with any excuse under the sun for not eating. Most of the time her excuse was that she was too busy to slow down and eat, but then again if you remember I said she spent most of her time sleeping.

I don’t know much about it and what kind of treatment she went through, but I know she did end up seeing someone to get help.
Hopefully you are just a great friend who is terribly worried, and not right.
If you are right, then I wish you all the luck with helping your friend back to health.
If you would like I can ask my friend for specific sites and papers you could look at.

The unexplained weight loss could also be a symptom of depression, which can be successfully treated with medication.

My best wishes to you and the person of your concern.

A Doctor told me once that if you stop eating, you will stop getting hungry. He had me eat whatever I wanted, no matter how unhealthy (like ice cream, for example) just to get some calories into my system, to restart the hunger cycle. It took a few days, but it DID work.
Doesn’t explain why it started, but might help end it.

Also, is there anyone in her family with a history of diabetes or endocrine diseases? I’m not entirely sure how they relate, but my paternal grandfather died of diabetes complications. My father and I are both overeaters. I think there’s a link somehow.

This is what happened to me. I lost about 30 pounds in 6 months. I basically just stopped eating. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to eat, was trying to lose weight, etc. I just physically couldn’t force the food down because I was wound up so tight inside.

That was the one good thing about depression. (I needed to lose the weight!) When I finally started getting help and went into recovery I got to go shopping for a bunch of new clothes. It helped. Unfortunately, now I’m back to watching what I eat and exercising to keep from gaining it all back.

I’m far from an expert on this, but I’ve often heard it explained that people suffering from eating disorders don’t always engage in binging/starving behaviour due to body image issues. Sometimes other issues are the root (parent’s divorce, abuse) and the person’s stress will exhibit as an eating disorder (the logic being that food/weight is something s/he can control while other circumstances seem “out of control”).

A good Web site for reference and help is Something-Fishy.

Good luck, Garfield.

15 lbs in 4 or 5 months & shes not skinny yet? Thats only 1 lb a week. Thats perfectly fine. At 1 lb a week it proves she IS eating.

You can try for info.

I hate to be the voice of doom and gloom but while 15 lbs in 4-5 months is not a drastic weight loss, it is significant. Especially in the face of no dieting and no new exercise program. Unexplained weight loss and anorexia (loss of appetite) is a red flag for many illnesses and should warrant some further investigation.

But before panic ensues more info is needed- like her age and general state of health. She needs to answer a few questions as well.

Does she feel ill?
Any changes in skin color?
Any changes in vital signs ie. running a temp, heart rate fast? difficulty breathing?
Has her usual level of activity changed?
Does she have abd pain, bloating, nausea, etc.
Has she had any major lifestyle changes that could be causing depression?

If the answers are all no then it is possible that she may be experiencing a change in her metabolism or she may be adopting a more healthy lifestyle. Any yeses would indicate the need for a doctor’s visit. Pronto. At any rate a checkup wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Oh and for the obvious question- Is she getting enough to eat? What is her finacial situation? Is it possible that she is a college student living away from home for the first time and without resources. Does she know how to cook? Can she afford to buy food. Have a place to cook it, etc? Many people place food low in priority when it comes to other more pressing needs such as tuition, shelter, clothing, transportation and are too ashamed to admit that they just don’t have the money to feed themselves. It’s easiere to say “I’m not hungry” than to say “I don’t have the money to eat”

Keep us updated
Cindi, your friendly neighborhood RN.

(Partial bump, partial update)

Well, not a whole lot has changed. . .talked to her about it a little more. . .she seems a bit reluctant to at least talk to a professional about it. I don’t know. For the first time, I’ve realized, someone has asked me for help with something that very probably will affect them for the rest of their life. I am thinking and re-thinking everything I do or say now because I don’t want to say something or do something wrong. I just don’t know what to do. I don’t want to force the issue or anything because that will make her regret she told me. It almost seems, though, that if nothing is said about it, she won’t do anything herself. I don’t know. . .

It’s not economic issues. She has access to food. I’m inclined to think that maybe there are some issues at home or something like that. I don’t know. Maybe not. I just don’t know. . .

Playing devil’s advocate here…

While it may be possible that there is something wrong, it may also be very possible that something is working right.

Appetite is designed to keep us at an appropriate weight for our genes. It is quite possible that due to some factor, she had gained more weight than she needed and now her appetite is slowly readjusting her weight back to a healthier level.

While a lack of appetite is one possible symptom of depression, it can also be completely normal. Without any other symptom of depression, I would not expect it to be depression at all.

In fact, most people eat more when they are depressed. It’s quite possible that your friend was depressed, and is no longer so.

Focusing on the idea that “she should be eating” can be dangerous. Studies show that people with a healthy weight use internal clues, i.e. appetite, to indicate when they should eat. Overweight people use external clues. Switching from an internal to an external method of determining when and how much to eat can very easily cause a person to become overweight, and struggle with it for the rest of their life.

I don’t know what your age is, but I’m guessing High School or College age. At this time of life, people start to guide themselves instead of being guided by their parents, and often have something happen which is quite normal, but that they have never dealt with before. They can be unwilling to ask adults about it for fear that they will be ridiculed.

I would say that, as long as your friend remains a healthy weight, is energetic, and has no other signs of depression, then there is no need to worry about her lack of appetite.


Despite being a recovering bulimic who can’t spell, I don’t have a whole lot of advice, but here goes:

Does she have a scale? How often does she weigh herself?
If you think she might be binging and purging, try to look at her fingers. A lot of bulimics have scrapes or cuts around their knuckles or fist joint from well…you know.
Some, not all. And finally, have you asked her?

Sorry I can’t help anymore. Good Luck

Sigh. . .I’m starting to think this is no big deal. She hasn’t said anything more about it and it doesn’t seem to be affecting her a lot (of course, I only get to see her for two minutes in between 1st and 2nd hours and 4 minutes between 3rd and 4th hours and all of 5th hour and 4 minutes between 5th and 6th hours and then sometimes I drive her home; in other words, all totaled, maybe an hour and a half per day). I’m not with her at mealtimes so I don’t really know whether she eats or not or how much. . .I just don’t know. I asked her, last night, on the phone, to think about whether this was important enough to do something about, because she has to WANT to change it before anyone else will be able to help her do that. She didn’t have a chance due to homework (finally getting around to this, yes, she’s highschool. 14, going on 15). So I don’t know. Maybe I am making too big of a deal out of it. Of course, as soon as I think that, I think that I don’t know what I would do if I just let this go because I thought it was nothing, and then something bad happened. Sigh. . .I just don’t know. Anyway. . .

Here’s where you all can help: We’re going to a show choir competition this weekend, which means we’ll be spending a large amount of time together. We’ll be sitting together for the 4 hour bus ride (at least they’re charter busses) down tomorrow and back on Saturday night/Sunday morning. Plus walking around at the competition and stuff. So:

Do I talk about this? If so, what do I say? What do you think?

IANAD or anything like that, but the only advice is: Get her a doctors appointment. Have her explain everything to him/her and let a proffesianal help. If it turns out to be nothing, then great, nothing to worry about, if not, she’ll have proffesinal guidance. Although people dont really enjoy going to Doctors, they are and do help you.

i wouldn’t say it’s something to be ignored. maybe you shouldn’t cause a huge fuss and get too many people involved, but you should still continue to keep an eye out for any other indications like the ones people have mentioned. earlier, you said there might be something going on at home. is someone sick? the best i can do is speak from the experience of another: my closest friend’s mother died of cancer, and while she was going through chemotherapy and in her last days, my friend just stopped eating or would throw up anything she did eat. her mom died over a year ago, and i had no idea about it until recently when she told me, and her reasoning was “i just wanted to waste away with her.” it might be an unconscious thing, but DEFINITELY talk to your friend.