Eating Disorders

edited December 1969 in Personal Issues
Hey everyone,

So one of my closest friends has a sister with an eating disorder. I know them really well so it's really hard for me to see them go through here's the story: the girl is 16, she used to be overweight and dieted to lose weight. I guess she saw how much weight she was losing and kept going. But then she started to be obsessed and starved herself and would count calories and all that. Apparently this has been going on since she was 15. She lost way too much weight and it got serious. She is a very nice and smart girl. This is affecting her brain she has negative thoughts about food and weight gain and all that.

I'm in psychology, so I told her sister to try talking to her gently and help her get everything out (like her thoughts and feelings and stuff). Also her family tried threatening (not in a mean way though) to put her in rehab away from home if she did not cooperate. But obviously that is not enough. I must say though that I don't think she needs professional help...she is not as bad as people with full-fledged anorexia nervosa are. Last I heard was today her parents couldn't handle it anymore and wanted to send her off to the rehab program starting tomorrow. But she promised them she would try harder so they said they'd give her another chance before turning to professional help.

Any advice? Or has anyone been in a similar situation....?

Please keep this family in your prayers.


  • May the Lord have mercy on her, and on her family.

    I suggest that we all pray, we have seen that prayer works wonders, and that when we are united in prayer it has a greater effect. Not that we should think that God is lacking in care or compassion. But he wills to work his love out in and through our prayers.

    God bless

    Father Peter
  • We just learned about this in health. She needs professional help as soon as she can, because eating disorders never go away. She says she will try, but she enjoys losing weight, it's almost like a high. This is not going against her sanity, but it is like having a cold and denying that you have a stuffy nose. It doesn't work like that. Tell her parents to get her help, before anymore serious damage occurs.
  • i dont know about eating disorders, but i just finished downloading ABBA's greatest hits!
  • Maybe I should tell the story from the beginning...when her family noticed she was getting weaker they kept cautioning her to take care of her health and stop dieting. Well she didn't listen, it obviously went in one ear and out the other. Then one day they found out she was only 96 pounds (at a height of 5'3) friend (the girl's sister) almost fainted when the sister told her her family said either she works with them and eats what they feed her, or else they'll put her in rehab to live there. And apparently she was afraid of that because this is a tight family, so she agreed to eat what they feed her. So it worked for a while in that she would eat...but she still had the negative thoughts about food and gaining weight and all that. So they'd all be eating the same thing, and she'd ask "Am I eating too much?". Clearly she had an issue in her brain...but they don't wanna turn to professional help unless they have to. So they kept trying...and then here's the problem...her friends in school (who had previously complimented her on looking good skinny) were now telling her she got fatter. So she started worrying about that friend tried talking to her and saying "Yes I won't lie to you and tell you you didn't gain any weight at all from your danger fatal point (96) pounds till now, but you gotta decide. It's your choice, gain your health or be model skinny, your own choice."
    Hopefully that info will help you guys a bit in helping me...please share your ideas....
  • Also, an update: instead of sending her to a clinic, the family made her promise that she will actually work harder. Instead of doing all this for her family, they're now encouraging her to do it for HERSELF not just to make her family happy that she's eating (because from what I understood, that's why she thought she was doing it). So because her dad's a doctor, he applied some stuff from cases he deals with, and made her look at the Canadian food guide and everyday write down in a journal what she ate etc, so that she could learn to follow it and eat healthy. They've been doing this for a few days now, I still gotta ask them how it's working out...
    Pray for them
    And post your suggestions please :)
  • i understand a bit about this as i was only 2 or 3 pounds heavier that this lady when i was 18. (am now a massive 12 pounds heavier  ;) at the same height.) i was never fat, but tended to rush off after dinner to do things and never have a second helping, then when a relative died and i was stressed with my end of school exams i lost weight. it was probably not a full eating disorder (i no way thought i was fat) but i was on the edge of it as i felt my life was out of control and i could only control my food intake. i also had some issues of self-hatred.

    i have 2 points to raise:
    1. each person with an eating disorder has slightly different issues underlying it, but the best treatment involves tackling the underlying issues. i recommend professional counselling, ideally from a Christian, rather than psychiatric care, as this case doesn't seem that bad yet to need a psychiatrist. when someone is anorexic and much thinner, or cutting themself, or developing obsessions like tapping the door 3 times after locking it, washing hands 50 times a day etc, then psychiatric care is generally best. i tried counselling from someone who had done a short course but wasn't qualified (a family friend) and i wouldn't recommend this. telling this friend of my parents why i was angry with them made me feel terribly guilty and didn't help at all. your friend needs to be able to talk to someone who really won't judge and who will listen and care for her. if you have an especially understanding priest, this may be the best option (not someone she is secretly scared of) or, failing that a professional counsellor whose qualifications you can check out.

    counselling (esp if not a Christian) may not heal the problems it may just identify them. but then she can go to abouna and say (eg) i want to confess my anger, my lack of forgiveness, my self-hatred or whatever the issue is the counsellor identified (without going into details). this way she brings the problems to God and he can bring healing through the prayers of the priest.

    2. some people just end up a bit skinny. in my (medical) opinion, if someone has 2 or 3 cm of fat over their body they are fat enough. hey, if you have more it's no disaster, although if it's more than 20cm thick, you may want to cut down on chocolate. you can tell your friend (or her sister can) that if she les fat than this everywhere, her body starts burning the muscle when it needs energy and this is very unhealthy. so it's vital to have this fat reserve, otherwise she is not ready to serve God as she could become ill anytime due to her failure to look after her body. some people naturally have chunky muscles, she needs to accept her body shape if that is the case. some other people would love to have chunky muscles, and no-one said, oh, wht a shame i am too strong, i can lift this without it hurting! having (wanting) a relationship with God is very important as only He loves us without ever failing us or leaving us, so you can also encourage her to go to church and study the Bible personally at home.
    it's also important not to talk about food every time you see her or keep telling her she is horribly skinny (that makes the self-hatred get worse).

    so these are my few thoughts, my problems were very many years ago (i am now v happy!) but i thought they may help. as for eating disorders never going away, they can go away with the grace of God, but the person needs to realise they have a weakness in that area and always take care not to fast too much, not to read the labels of food too often etc, in the same way, someone who has a tendancy to overeat needs to take steps to keep an eye on that. may God give us all the grace to focus on Him, our healer and provider.
  • Is she purging after meals? Do you know?
  • Noo she's not purging at all, (at least this is what i understand). She just doesn't wanna eat (this would mean she's anorexic, not bullemic)

    I have to say though that she's a lot better now than she was a few months ago. She's eating, and she loves food (who doesn't lol!) and when she takes what she wants she's happy. The only thing that remains are those thoughts in her head that she can't get rid of. Also her face isn't pale or yellow or sick looking like before, but obviously she is not completely better, since she has these thoughts.

    And you know what's weird, ever since this has been going on...or at least that's what my friend (her sister) is guessing, she's been waking up extra early to finish eating early and her life is like set on routine. So like on Saturdays she wakes up at 4 am (not joking) and showers and then eats breakfast at 5am. And that "breakfast" is sometimes a tiny cookie or even a piece of friend really finds it hard to trust her sis when the family is not with terms of food and eating i mean. Like what if she goes to school and hands out food to all her friends instead of eating it?
  • mabsoota, thanks a lot for your input, i appreciate it :)
    They tried gettin her to talk to her father of confession, who is also close to her sis and the family. She told him everything and he told her to try to get out and do stuff relaxing. He also visited their house and noticed she was depressed and always crying. But the thing is she's not always like that, sometimes (most of the times actually) she is happy and in a good mood...

    This is so hard cuz you don't know if she's just like that infront of them and then behind their backs she cries, or what...

    Keep the suggestons coming :) please
  • sounds like she has a good support network. so maybe your role is just to pray and advise your friend when she is stressed about her sister. maybe also your friends' sis would benefit from hanging out with you guys as well, in a bigger group, esp if no-one talks about food or makes a big deal of it.
    keep up the good work
  • you know about psychology yeah? do you know about how that girl felt 'if' she was bullied because of her weight?

    apparantely, if it has been diagnosed as an eating disorder it takes years for therapy to work to convince the patient that food is not an enemy.
    it is actually easier in the short term to help them put on enough weight to stay alive..but the cycle just repeats itself in most cases
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