National Eating Disorders Association

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College roommate may be struggling, should I notify parents?

I've been rooming with my best friend this first semester of college and I've noticed some behaviors that may be indicative of an eating disorder. I'm worried I may have provoked it. I'm also wondering if I should talk to her parents. I'll start with a back story.

We've been close friends since seventh grade and while she never overindulged, she seemed to eat an adequate amount of calories while she was under her parents roof. You can probably tell by this description that she's a picky eater, and that hasn't changed... now it just seems that she eats much less.

I've heard a lot of "I'm just not hungry"s and "I'm tired of the food on campus." But we have some of the highest ranking on campus dining in America. Even I, as a vegan, haven't gotten sick of the food because we have SO MANY OPTIONS. Which brings me to my next point...

Even though I eat in abundance, my diet is restrictive by definition, and I'm hoping my choice to follow this lifestyle isn't causing her to change the way she eats. While I would love to see people stop eating animals, they need to replace it with healthy whole foods, not nothing. Could this be because when people ask me why I'm vegan, one of my answers is that the agricultural industry is bad for the environment? I want to give people an honest answer, and I think they deserve to know the truth, but if this could be causing her to struggle with what she eats I don't want that.

We also have a suite mate who has struggled with eating disorders, and still lives with one. Even though she now eats a very balanced diet and gets a proper amount of calories everyday, she still talks a lot about the amount of calories in everything she eats, and occasionally over-exercises, which could be triggering to my roommate. I'm not sure. Either way, even she has expressed concerns to me about my roommate potentially having an ED.

I make many efforts to encourage her to eat such as being intentional about going to meals with her (while this usually works, I like to do spiritual fasts and I also just have my own schedule sometimes, during these times that I don't ask her to get food with me she usually just won't get it at all).

I don't want to completely jump to conclusions. She doesn't show many of the typical signs of an ED such as counting calories, excessive exercise, eating healthy, low cal foods, or body checking. The only thing I have noticed is that she simply doesn't eat enough food. She is a picky eater. She really could be telling the truth when she says she's sick of the food here. Which leads me to my final question...

Should I bring up my concerns to her parents? We'll be going home for thanksgiving break this weekend and I'm wondering if I should let them know to be on the lookout for any changes in the way she eats compared to the way she ate before coming off to college. Will she continue her patterns of eating inadequately or eat enough now that she has a variety of comforting food at her exposure?

I don't want to ruin our friendship over my possible overreacting, so I want to be very careful about who I tell and the way I tell it. While we're best friends, it can be hard for her to be vulnerable with me and I don't want to ruin the little bit of vulnerability and lose her trust in me because I told her parents or accused her of something that isn't as big of a deal as I built it up to be.

Thank you in advance :)

Dear c0nc3rn3d, we would like

Dear c0nc3rn3d, we would like to inform you that we edited your post to remove mentions of specific food items, which could be tiggering to others and therefore are not allowed on the forums. You can review our community guidelines here. Thanks for your understanding and please continue to post! 

Your friend.

Hey there.

Yes, it's possible that your friend has issues. When people have issues, they can go a long time without anyone else ever noticing or getting suspicious. So yes, the fact that you do find yourself noticing says something right there.

Could your food habits be triggering your friend ? It's possible. Then again, pretty much anything involving food, eating, or other people's appearance can be triggering to them, so changing your own habits is not likely to make a difference.

I can hear your concern about wanting to preserve the trust that the two of you share, and it's not a foolish thing to worry about. At the same time, if there is a problem, it would be good if her parents knew. If they would be open to knowing that is. Which to be honest, some parents aren't. So you may have to play it by ear ?

Because as you said, EDs can be a sensitive matter, and working with friends who we worry about can be a sensitive matter as well. Even so, I think it's fair to trust in the good-will that you have towards your friend, and the friendship you've shared for all these years. Things like that can make a difference I think, even in difficult matters like these.

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