National Eating Disorders Association

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I'm concerned about my boyfriends daughter-please advise

I've been becoming increasingly concerned about my boyfriends daughter's eating habits or lack there of. She is a freshmen in high school, a dancer and very thin. It started with me finding molding sack lunches stashed in different places of her room quite some time ago, when questioned about then, it would be "I just wasn't hungry," "I bought something at school", "my stomach was hurting today" etc. When she started being able to go off campus for lunch we stopped packing lunches, there for no more were found. She skips breakfast most days, and now claims she is not hungry during dinner and explains it by saying things like: "I ate a big lunch" or "I drank a lot of water today." When she does eat dinner she will fix herself a Vegan patty(just the patty) and eat it with some snap peas or carrots and that's it. I also recently over heard her on the phone with a friend about talking about a diet they were doing together. She and her friend are both very thin and have no reason to diet.Tonight I tried to confront her about her not eating, I told her it concerned me that she was not eating often and that I was worried that that was resulting in a lack of proper nutrition. I was met by a very defensive attitude and she said she just wasn't hungry tonight. When I pointed out that that has been happening most nights and that's why I was concerned, she respond by telling very defensively that she just doesn't get that hungry. I asked for some examples of what she eats well at school (and then more specifically what she ate today) and she totally deflected the question: "I dont know we go out, we eat different stuff" then she stormed away saying "I just don't get hungry!" Sorry this is so long, but I felt I needed to lay down the whole situation in order to be able to seek advice. Does anyone out there have advice on what to do next? I've voiced my concerns to her dad and he listens but is perhaps in denial that this is or big problem (or if it is not already it could escalate into one). I think its extra hard for him because they do not have the best relationship right now and she tends to meet anything he asks (even "what did you do today?") with a defensive unkind attitude so he really does not know how to even processes something like this. She is in that stage where she is not really fond of any of use in her family so I dont know if I'm really going to get any farther by trying to talk with her. I also feel that her mother may be an enabler because she is consistently telling us things like "keep the kids off the carbs" and "make sure they do not eat too much well their at your house..." and "we need to put the girls in more exercise classes (child's name) is blowing up like a tick!" (and yes it is normal said in front of the kids)Thought and advice please. If you think I am over reacting that's welcome too I just really need some guidance on how to handle this. Thank you.

You are NOT overreacting - you are right to be worried

Hey there,

It sounds like your suspicions are well founded. Your boyfriend's daughter has the signs of an eating disorder. The denial, defensiveness and excuses are all part of what is done to defend her eating disorder. I am proud of you for recognizing there may be a problem and coming on here to talk about it. Although she may not realize it right at this moment, she is very lucky to have you.

My suggestion is to get her to a primary care doctor. Also, a therapist is a good place to start - She needs help in dealing with what is contributing to this behavior. It sounds like her mother isn't the best influence. The things she is saying in front of her daughter are definitely damaging and may be contributing to her developing an eating disorder.

I know this is hard, but try to talk to your boyfriend again and tell him the seriousness of this situation. His daughter is going through an enormous struggle with an ED and she needs the biggest, most understanding support system she can get. It is key to talk to her in a supportive, loving way, even when she is defensive or gives any negative reaction. Here is some information for you and your boyfriend to look over:

Also, click here to find doctors and treatment in your area:

Thank you for caring about your boyfriend's daughter enough to do something about it. It's hard to face but it can be overcome! Please let your boyfriend know that his daughter is sick. Also, if you know which friend is on this 'diet' with her, you may want to call the mother to chat about it. It's important to address this right away. She needs help and she may fight you the whole way, but remember that by getting her help you are doing the right thing.

Not Overreacting, agree with eghall

The way your boyfriend's daughter is reacting could be a template for the way my daughter behaved. A year ago she was a fine healthy weight and beautiful. Since the holidays, I began to notice she appeared awfully thin. At first I chalked it up to growing taller but when the school called expressing concern and alerting me she had lost weight I entered the eating disorder world.
The irritable behavior could be attributed to teenagers but it is more probably the eating disorder. My daughter was diagnosed with anorexia and depression.
I have been diligent in seeking help from primary care doctor, a specialist in adolescent medicine, a nutritional therapist, and a regular therapist. I also joined a support group that has been extremely helpful.
It is rigorous and exhausting, I am running low on leave from work, and the financial burden is becoming a problem as well but eghall is right. As soon as possible have a physical, then Mom and Dad may have to acknowledge something is wrong. If that is not possible and I really hate sneak attacks but a call to the school (anonymous) might be helpful to get the ball rolling. From what I see in my short experience, the sooner you get her into treatment the better and quicker her chances of recovery.
Hang in there, this is not a fun ride but God Bless that she has you in her corner......