National Eating Disorders Association

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How can I help my girlfriend?

I started dating my girlfriend about 4 months ago. She was then on some kind of extreme low calorie training program (which by the way costs a fortune and seems to be a huge scam). She was pretty thin but not to an extreme extent. Then, after a few weeks, the program ended and she started to eat normally again.

She told me that another guy she dated before me was trying to feed her chocolate so that she wouldn't become too "beautiful" by this program. In this way, by keeping her "unattractive", he would not become "threatened". So she dumped him, because she doesn't like being controlled. When she told me about this, I said "That is such a weird thing to do. And actually, I think that you are more beautiful now than when you did that program." This made her mad, she went home to the scale and told me she had only gained X pounds since the program. She also told me that I called her "fat". I tried to tell her that it was meant as a compliment and that I never would have called her fat, because she has never been that. But she was difficult to reason with. I have now started to believe that her interpretation of what that guy did is incorrect.

She is pretty selective with food. She loves some national cuisines for example, while she is disgusted by other cuisines. The food that she can eat contains plenty of nutrients though, so the selectivity is not a problem in itself.

Once she mentioned that she didn't have a period during this program due to the excessive weight loss.

She is pretty thin and she talks about doing the "continuation program" which is a shorter version of the aforementioned extreme low calorie training program. When she mentioned it the first time, I said: "Okay, sounds fun! So what's your purpose with this program?" Then she got all mad and said that I am so locked within one perspective. I got a bit irritated so I said: "Why do you get so mad? I only asked an innocent question."

I am starting to believe that she has an eating disorder. I don't know if she has any idea. I think that when I gave her the "compliment" and when I asked about the purpose of the program, I "triggered" the eating disorder. I have now realized that I must never bring up anything that has to do with bodyweight at all. I think it's absolutely crazy that she, already being a bit underweight, should fast for rapid weight loss. I can't see any rational reason for this.

I wonder if you have any advice for me on how to help her. I don't want her to harm herself with excessive weight loss. I also want her to know that I care about her.

Thank you so much for any piece of advice.


While no one can diagnose a person from a distance, yes, it sounds like she has an issue alright. Because really, people can get wrapped up in all sorts of things : excessive exercise, "eating healthy', and various types of diets. But if the main thrust of the thing continues to be weight-loss, when they are at a reasonable weight already, and they get super-senstive when you say something about it….then yeah, that's kind of a sign, I think.

Because really, lots of people can joke, and be light-hearted about their attempts to lose weight, but this doesn't sound like the case with her at all. It's more like it's deadly serious, you know ?

Plus, would she be able to "eat normally' for several days, without suffering terrific anxiety ? Most people would be able to to do that, but not people with "eating issues". They would probably start feeling a lot of anxiety fairly quickly.

But yes, what to do when the person still thinks that everything is fine ? Because you are right, people can fall into these habits without really realizing the sorts of trouble that they are getting themselves into. Until they try and stop, that is. Or when they start having issues in their relationships that surround the matter. That can get their attention as well.

It would seem reasonable to confront her, but I think you've seen how well that has worked out. And how even an innocent comment was met with irritation and anger.. So it can be a dilemma for sure.

Basically things have to reach a point where the person is able to admit to themselves that…they aren't as in control of the situation as they thought that they were. Which as long as the pounds are still falling off, can be a hard thing for them to admit to. Because everyone in our society admire weight-loss, yes ?

For a lot of folks, it's when they realize that thinking about food and exercise is filling their heads, to the point where they hardly can think of anything else through the day…that can be when they begin to realize that they're in trouble.

So yes, as long as she is continuing to tell herself that everything's fine, I'm not sure how you can convince her otherwise.

Like it's a conclusion she'll have to come to herself, you know ?

Anyhow, just some thoughts. Which probably weren't too helpful I'm afraid. But I think you are right in being concerned, so it doesn't hurt to keep an eye out, and hope that she doesn't end up pushing you away.

Which can be a really common thing in situations like this.

It's clear that you care though, so have faith in that. And do keep in touch, OK ?

Thank you very much for your

Thank you very much for your answer. It is very good for me.

I would say she is able to eat normally for several days and more but I don't know if it causes her to suffer anxiety. She seems a bit sad because of Corona restrictions in her life also.

I think my plan, beyond not triggering her, is to bring it up if I feel it is absolutely necessary.