National Eating Disorders Association

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Naked vs Dressed

Hello to all.

My wife, 52 years young, started on a diet about a year ago, besides that, daily yoga or running or calisthenics, she lost weight and started to look VERY good.

However, it got to a point where that was most of what she talked about to anyone who was willing to listen. Daily she was reading more articles on the internet about healthy living, diets, preservatives, tea, etc.

She had gone to a nutritionist a year ago and was aiming to improve those numbers.

It got to a point where a routine blood test showed Bilirubin in her blood so I
thought she was overdoing it; she decided to go back to the nutritionist and when she came back she waved the results in my face, like a flag of accomplishment. This emboldened her so she continued the Dr. mentioned that a second test showed no bilirubin.

Neither the nutritionist nor her friends that say she looks great have seen her naked. From being slightly overweight..passing through VERY what I see worries me.

Sorry for being so blunt!
This change happened in 3 months.

We are having problems because I can no longer see her body because it constantly reminds me of that image.
Sex is gone and she noticed it, she is demanding I continue as if nothing changed, she says it's still her.

Any ideas on how to deal with this would be appreciated.

Dear nedahelpa, we would like

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N vs D

"However, it got to a point where that was most of what she talked about to anyone who was willing to listen. Daily she was reading more articles on the internet about healthy living, diets, preservatives, tea, etc. "

Yep, that sort of obsessiveness doesn't bode well, and is something that many people with EDs find themselves dealing with. In the beginning it can feel like a healthy and positive thing to them. They're finally taking control of their life !!

You've seen what it can turn into though. The "control" part I mean. The scale goes down and they're in control, the scale goes up and they're a failure. Life is more complicated than that of course, but for some people their way of thinking really does begin to narrow down to that sort of black and white way of assessing things. It's a classic symptom it seems. One would think that once they reach a certain goal weight then they'd be fine. But seeing the scale NOT go down can begin to seem almost as big of a failure as seeing it go up.

So it's kind of like an addiction. Where people are not so much addicted to being thin, but rather they've become addicted to the PROCESS of becoming thin. Anything other than getting thinner is mentally the same as not being in control. And really, who's comfortable with not being in control of their lives ? Not me, and probably not you either, so you can kind of understand the sort of mental dynamics that are at work here.

Plus isn't it good to be "healthy" ?

It's hard to tell you what to do in this situation. It will take her gaining some perspective. What often happens is that the person slowly becomes aware that food and numbers and exercise is ALL that they can think about anymore. There's no room for friends or hobbies or much of anything else anymore. And that perhaps rather than being in control, they are out of control instead. That they are being controlled, rather than having control. That's usually where the turning point comes.

"OK, I'll just go back to eating again." Un uh. They discover that they can't just go back to eating again. This is often when people begin to think of recovery, or are able to label their situation a problem. They can often begin to suffer from depression as well.

So yes, how can you move the situation along. Is she still telling herself that "everything's fine" ? Is she trying to tell you that too ?

Except everything isn't fine. Her husband is freaking out, the sex life is no good anymore - those are things that are definitely not fine. Maybe she'll say "Oh that's your problem". But if it's effecting the relationship then it's her problem too.

So one suggestion might be marriage counseling. She could say that the doesn't want to go, but if it's about the marriage and the two of you, how could she reasonably not take part ? Maybe you are the problem, but if that is the case, then she needs to go in order to point that out to the counsellor.

In any case, just some thoughts. Getting to the point where she actually sees the situation as a problem herself is what it's going to take I think. She may already be having suspicions that it might be, you know ?

Keep writing ?


Dr. Opinion

THANK YOU BobJ48 ...You definitely know what you are talking about.

Her latest Blood Work came back PERFECT!
She was congratulated by her GP at the end of her last visit. She told the Dr. the things I was saying and ridiculed me by mentioning that my mother was overweight, hence, I liked full bodied women!

I am confused; she avoids me seeing her naked, and what I see cant be explained in detail in this forum. She mentions "you don't look at me as before".. which is true because If I do.... (cant explain here)

What can I do if the Dr. says ALL is OK. Does this happen? I must mention that no Dr has seen her naked!

Ditto Ditto

My husband's doctor said the same thing! The doctors tell him how much better his numbers are than they were when he was obese. What is wrong with the medical community that they are unable to comprehend this mental disorder? It is so frustrating. They don't see his personality changes. They don't see his obsession with calories, or hear his unending discussions of fat. They don't see all the stupid things he does because he can no longer think. It makes me want to scream.


Hi Nedahelpa,

I am so sorry you have to go through this. It doesn't seem to be a quick fix. In fact, no mental illness/addiction is a quick fix and it is not something we can "fix" for someone else. They have (1) recognize the problem, (2) see it as a problem, (3) want to get better, and (4) be willing to put in the very hard work it takes to get better.

What we can do is focus on ourselves, and on our reactions to their illness and behaviors. We need to look deeply into ourselves to make sure that we stay mentally healthy through this. It takes a detachment that is hard to achieve. It takes forming boundaries. It means we have to allow them to have their own experiences so that they can learn to rescue themselves from their own behaviors. The longer we shield them, the worse it will get. If they can rescue themselves from their actions, we allow them to experience the joy and pride that results from that achievement and that would have motivated them to make further attempts at getting better. Does that make sense?

It also means we do not participate in their illness. We do not talk to "ED". We do not hold conversations with ED about weight, or calories, or body image. We can be blunt about this. We can say we will not talk to your illness and we can change the subject.

You can inform her doctors that she is restricting her eating to an unhealthy level and you can let them try to help her. But you are not her doctor and you don't have answers for her. It know that you wish that you did and it would be so much easier if you did.

I have looked around for an Eating Disorder group that I could attend, but I haven't found one. The best I have found is Al-anon which has a 12-step program to help people deal with alcoholics in their lives. A person with ED is not so very different from an alcoholic. Both are suffering from a mental illness. Both are dealing with addictive behaviors. Both are trying to self-medicate a need albeit using different methods.

You might want to look into Al-anon for help in navigating these waters. You might also want to look into therapy for yourself so that you have someone to help you understand the situation and to whom you can talk honestly.

Sending best wishes.


.... I've never been into full figure woman..... I took her out for our anv. She ordered something over the other....before she had consumed much of the meal, she said the grits would be great for breakfast tomorrow morning .... always thinking the next step ahead! ... she's traveling a lot on business, she brings a cooler with her, and when she returns from the city she has leftovers she's planned to build meals around!!! ---- I am not making this up! --- I told her just leave the damn leftovers at the restaurant, we aren't poor, and toting around the cooler is just nonsense. --- Ok it's a mess it's a mess for all of us. --- I'm just yammering on in sadness and despair over this. Just having a bad day / week because I'm alone with her again as our daughter is back at college.

similar pattern.

My lady was always thin, at least since I knew her.
My mom warned me she had an eating issue when we were dating, of course my mom warns me about a lot of things.

Anyway, same pattern, my wife passed from normal, to super fitness lady, and quickly to severe looking model with ribs pointing out.

She's also '50 soon '51 and her friends are all normal looking women to slightly plump. I think she likes thinking she is the envy to them.

It's a toxic path, I just hate eating out with her, she starts planning what to do tomorrow with the items she's planning to take home, rather than just eat and enjoy.

Good luck, it's tiring isn't it?