National Eating Disorders Association

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15yo daughter

HI...I am new to this. Worried about my 15 yo daughter. Think she is developing "orthorexia" She's been limiting herself to 3 (healthy) meals a day. No snacks or sugar, minimal carbs. Gets irritated if you ask/comment. Gets irritated if she misses a workout. Starting to spill over into social time w/friends. I'm besides myself. Attempted to talk about it w/her a few times and she shuts down. Anyone have insight/advice?


Hello. Welcome to the forum. I am so sorry to hear of your daughters struggles and how it affects you as her parent. I am mostly in recovery but still have days that I struggle. But far more into recovery than out of it. I just wanted to start this off with positive encouragement and to let you know that I understand. The eating disorder I had was serious and if it was not for God and my faith and the love and support of my parents I would not have made it.

So about your daughter. I am not a professional so I can't give medical advice. I would recommend going onto NEDA's web site where they have what is called a parent's tool kit. It is quite involved and gives information on the various forms eating disorders take place, it provides help in how to help a child, things that you can say and things that need to be avoided. NEDA also has an information line or help line where you can chat or call.

From what you are describing your daughter very well may be developing an eating disorder. But I can not say absolutely. I think I can say that it might be helpful to bring her to the doctor and have a check up where they can do blood work and make sure everything physically is okay. I also think having someone to talk with for yourself can be helpful. It is very difficult to see a son or daughter regardless of age suffer. Is your daughter in any kind of therapy? If you talk with NEDA or read through the tool kit, it may provide you with ideas on how to interact with your daughter and boundary setting. The sooner she gets help the better chances of recovery are. She may say there is nothing wrong but that may be a defense mechanism because of the fear that getting help means she loses a sense of control. Eating disorders are very dangerous and can be life threatening. I do not say this to scare you but to encourage you to do what will help your daughter the most. Trying to recover without help from professionals can be very difficult.

Maybe you can try just talking with her about every day stuff and try to not pressure her too much about the eating, as it does usually cause a wall to go up and I am not going to listen to you. Keeping the lines of communication open, letting her know that you are there for her if she wants to talk, but also let her know that you will do what you have to do in order to keep her safe.

I know this is so very painful. I watched my parent's fears and worries about me and now they tell me what it was like for them to watch me self destruct. Again because of their love and commitment to me I am able to share with others how much healing has taken place in my life. I still struggle but much less.

Again, I would recommend having her seen by her practitioner to rule out any physical issues and then maybe ask NEDA their thoughts on a specialist who treats individuals who are dealing with eating disorders.

I wish you the best and please post again and let us know how you all are doing.



Yes, I can see where this is worrisome. And you may be right as to what you think that it is.

People can begin by wanting to "eat healthy", but then it can turn into what feels like a "safety" concern. The "wrong" kinds of foods are unsafe and must be avoided. If they don't get their workout in, things can begin to feel unsafe too. "Staying safe" becomes an all-consuming concern, and rigid and inflexible routines must be followed to the letter if the person is going to avoid feelings of crippling anxiety.

But hey, they are just "being healthy", you know ? In ways that our society values. So why in the world are other people challenging them about this! Other people are ignorant junk-eaters and simply don't get it !!

Or at least that's how people can feel about this in the beginning. As time passes, usually people begin to realize how concerns such as these are getting in the way of their lives, and constraining them in ways that aren't healthy at all. But by then they can discover that they are trapped, and are unable to to change their ways with suffering extreme anxiety.

Folks are going to try and resist this entrapment idea though. Eating healthy is what keeps us safe, not something that causes us problems! You've seen the irritation that shows up when you try and discuss it with her.

What to do is hard to say. Counseling is what's going to be needed I suspect, but as long as she insists that nothing's wrong with her eating and exercise then counseling may be something she'll resist as well.

Even so, most people with these conditions have underlying issues that don't really have much to do with food or exercise per sa, but which pushed them in these directions to begin with. Worries about leaving childhood, worries about "not being good enough", worries about social acceptance. If she could see counseling in those terms ( My mom is such a bitch, and always trying to control me !) maybe she'd go to counseling to help deal with those feelings ?

Anything to get a foot in the door, you know ?


Thank you for responding. Your perspective and insight is very helpful. I'm calling her pediatrician today. I also picked up a book for parents on eating disorders to educate myself. Silly question, do I read it publicly like I would any other book or keep it to myself? I picked up on my daughter comparing herself to others and she seems to have this "ideal" of how she should look. It's heartbreaking to watch this struggle. I'm happy to read you are in a better place...keep up the good matter in this world!!


Good morning,

I hope you are doing okay and through all of this are taking care of yourself while taking care of your daughter. It is a scary thing to go through. About reading the book, I would do what you feel comfortable with. There is unfortunately a stigma that comes sometimes with illnesses that emotional. But saying that I feel that it is okay to read such things in public and to not have to hide or be ashamed of the illness. If you think it may upset your daughter though I would think it best to read it at home. But ultimately you are going to have to decide what you are comfortable with. Also, the parent's tool kit here on the NEDA web site is very helpful and has a lot of information.

I am sorry to cut this short but I have to get ready for work. God bless you and your family.


I am glad you are taking her to her pediatrician. I would be interested in what they have to say. Take care

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