National Eating Disorders Association

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Worried Best Friend

Hi there,
I've been growing increasingly nervous around one of my best friends. Over the summer I had noticed her losing some weight, and exercising more, which I thought was her just trying to get healthier at first, but recently, it's become noticeably much. Another friend came up to me as well and asked if she was alright. I guess because I'm around her so often it wasn't exactly clear how thin she had become until I had taken a step back and really looked at her. Recently she started an instagram page that was all about food, and I saw her in our free time scrolling through pages of meals, which I didn't think was weird until I realized that I never really see her eat much of the meals that she makes. This was around the same time she started to get quite thin as well. When we go out to eat, or she comes over for a long period of time, I will rarely see her eat, she never says she's hungry, and she will always reject food when I offer her some unless it's a set lunch or dinner that she has previously agreed to. She used to get excited over food and other activities, but has grown quiet and reserved, and maybe just less enthusiastic overall and now I am mainly the one to initiate meals. I have been friends with her for nearly 10 years, and am wondering if I should just ask her if she is alright and make sure to clarify to her why I am asking? You'd think I'd be more comfortable checking in on such a close friend but I am really scared, because I just want to help her more than anything and I guess I am asking for confirmation that I should at least try.

Eeel : Your Friend

I think you have every right to be concerned. While no one is a doctor here, the behaviors you've noticed…they really are the sorts of things someone with an eating disorder would do. The apparent anxiety around eating, while simultaneously looking at al sorts of "food porn", along with what you said about her mood becoming more quiet and less engaged.

It's normal to be concerned, and wonder what's going on in situations like this. To my mind, it falls under the category of "obligations of friendship", if you know what I mean ? One other thing to keep in mind is just how alone with their concerns people with eating disorders can often feel. Of course it's possible that she's still in the "denial" phase of her ED, where she still believes that everything is fine, but from what you've said, she may also be in the "Uh oh" phase too, where she's becoming aware of how much power these "habits" are starting to exert over her, and over what would otherwise be the normal course of her life.

So if it were me, rather than confronting her face-to-face (which can often be terrifically awkward and unrewarding) think about writing her a letter ? Something she can read in her own good time, and have time to think about, you know ? And have time to consider how she'd like to respond as well.

Also keep this in mind - Not everyone would be willing to step up like you are doing. While it may create some tension, you've also taken a chance of your own for her. And she may understand that that in itself counts for something.

In any case, it can be quiet here at times, but I hope you see this reply. And that if there are developments, you'll feel OK about posting.