National Eating Disorders Association

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Trouble persuading my girlfriend to eat

Ok so first off I was already really big into nutrition, eating healthy, all that. I have a pretty good understanding about how many calories someone needs for their body weight, how many micronutrients, the different hormones involved like leptin, all that. I feel like I’m personally pretty reasonable when it comes to food and nutrition.

This is where my issue comes in.

A while ago I started dating my current girlfriend, I really love her and I care for her a lot. I suspected something was up for a while but I didn't want to pry and let her come out and tell me it, and she did a few months ago when she told me she had an eating disorder. This was very worrisome for me because my grandfather died of complications due to malnutrition during childhood growing up in war torn europe, and I do not want something like that to happen to her. I've been as supportive as I can be, helping educating some basics of proper nutrition and how important it is and I've tried to be as both supportive and helpful as possible. I'm the only person she's told, but she plans to get help relatively soon and bring it up during a therapy session (she goes to therapy every so often for other reasons that are probably related but I'm not gonna get into).

The problem is this: I'm trying to encourage her to eat more as she drastically under eats daily. Some days she's pretty good but more often than not she's under eating. Her metabolic system is basically shot and she rarely gets hungry, and she gets full very easily. She's agreed that she'd do her best to get at least one substantial meal every day, however I have trouble with this. Often times she'll eat a light snack and nothing else and keeps insisting that she's "eaten today" when she really needs to eat more. I'm really worried for her physical health, her emotional state and the healthiness of our relationship. How do I persuade her to eat at least a bit more when she refuses to? Any help on the matter will be greatly appreciated, thanks.

Hi Concerned-party,

I perfectly understand your concern but as a survivor from an eating disorder, I can tell you "inviting her to eat" or even forcing her will only cause problems in the relationship.
Better invite her to get proper treatment and ask her how you can better support her. Most of the times what we want is "to feel normal" and others to "avoid putting too much attention to what we eat/don't".

Of course, you can show her with your example how eating healthy is. Education does not cause any damage.