National Eating Disorders Association

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My boyfriend has struggled with bulemia

I've been with my boyfriend for about a year and near the beginning of our relationship he told me that he has had issues with his weight and self-esteem in the past. He is a very fit and slim person and always has been thin. I didn't immediately think it was a big issue because he didn't make it seem like it was and I didn't notice any unhealthy habits. But as time went on I started to notice he is very preoccupied with food and his weight. He later opened up to me that he had bulimia in the past and because of it, he automatically throws up his food sometimes due to an acid reflux issue left from the bulimia. He no longer intentionally throws up his meals, but he exercises every day and feels terrible and fat if he doesn't. He has told me that he always wants to eat large amounts of food even if he is full but he resists. He eats regularly and mostly healthy foods and drink lots of water so I know that he is making an effort to overcome it. I have talked to him about it but he finds it difficult to talk about and doesn't want me to develop body issues from hearing about his, as that is how his problems started. He says he just wants to be perfect for himself, not anyone else. I just need advice on how to talk to him and what can help without making it worse. I only want for him to feel good about himself and recognize how great he naturally is.Any advice?

Hi bell4098,

Hi bell4098,

I think one of the best lifelines people with disordered eating can have is someone like you is there to listen to and support them. Even if it's a difficult topic to negotiate, having someone there for you is really helpful and meaningful.

I have attached a link to NEDA's Parent Toolkit. It's not just for parents, but friends and family as well. It gives a lot information about what to say and do.

Best wishes, and good luck!!

Thank you!

Thank you!

Hi Bell4098,

Thank you for posting here!

You certainly sound like a very caring, conscientious person. It's great that you want to find out more about EDs and learn how you can help your boyfriend. The Parent Toolkit that PianoGirl shared is a really helpful resource! There are lots of other great pages around the NEDA website that are helpful, as well (look around under the "Find Help & Support" and "Learn" tabs at the top of the page.) I really feel that knowledge is power, and I think learning more about EDs will be helpful for you.

EDs are hard to overcome, and for the loved ones of people with EDs it can be really hard to separate the person from the disorder. Try to remember that your boyfriend isn't choosing to act or think in these disordered ways. Having supportive family and friends is such a great asset for people who are trying to recover. Be there for your boyfriend if and when he wants to talk about what he's going through, and try to keep an eye on his health in case things get more serious and he needs to see a professional. You can always call the NEDA Helpline (or click-to-chat: if you have questions or aren't sure where to turn. And of course we're always here on the forums to help and provide a listening ear! :)

I hope this helps! Good luck, and please keep us updated on how you and your boyfriend are doing!