National Eating Disorders Association

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Hiding something

Our daughter is 19, and has been fighting anorexia for the past 3 years. Sometimes when she’s eating a meal we catch her hiding food in a napkin or somewhere else. Typically she denies it, which I understand is how the eating disorder voice will tend to operate. I’m not sure if it’s best to confront her about it or let it go. When we try to confront it turns in to denial and often a fight. If anyone has any advice it would be greatly appreciated.


Oh brother, this hiding food thing is really common. If she's been involved in her ED for this long, she's already well aware of how deceitful this is. Without you having to convince her that it is.

Also, in the beginning she may have thought this was clever, but I'm willing to bet that she doesn't see it as clever anymore. It's more likely that she sees it as shameful.

So really, what's the point of arguing, when in some ways she probably feels the same about this as you do ?

Which is where I'd try and connect with her if you can. If she can believe that you "get it" about what she's going though, then perhaps things won't be so adversarial, and there won't be so many fights, and she can be more open with you about her feelings ?

Because in my experience, most anorexics aren't happy about their situation. And would feel better if they felt that their loved ones understood that part, in ways that felt supportive to them.

EDs are always a difficult matter, so just some thoughts.

You are not alone

Our 20 year old daughter has been struggling with anorexia for 3+ years now also. I have argued, debated, and lectured. Most of the time in a loving/caring way, sometimes not so nice. Looking back now, BobJ is right, she already knew.

We finally took away our financial help for college because we had a deal, and she wasn't able to hold up her end of the deal. We didn't do it to be mean, and we didn't fight about it, we did it because it was just getting so bad and we had to get her attention somehow. And she LOVED her college.....and my wife and I loved her college! And it broke her heart to miss a year....and ours too. But it was her choice, she could have gone and paid tuition herself. It was probably the hardest thing I have ever done......sit there and just watch my kid suffer emotionally and physically. And try to be patient and supportive, the best we could.

But, fingers crossed, she is now getting the help she needs. And the beautiful thing is SHE set it up, she CHOSE it! It has been a long journey, and it isn't over yet. But I am absolutely convinced they have to want to get better for themselves, not for us. And I really hope that is the point she is at right now...….she is more afraid of loosing her future than of giving up the ED.

So, my experience says to pray your daughter finds a life calling greater than the "comfort" this ED provides, so she has motivation to leave the ED behind. And find a good stress-reliever for yourself and your spouse/partner......because being supportive and patient is not easy.

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