National Eating Disorders Association

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Very Concerned

Two weeks ago I was visited by my friend who I had not seen in several years. I was shocked to see how thin she was, when I hugged her I immediately was concerned that she was so fragile that I could hurt her if I hugged too tight. Her visit was almost 2 weeks and I watched her eating (and fluid consumption) habits. She would not eat more than a few bites of anything in one sitting and what I thought was more odd was that she drank very little water every day. I tried to get her to drink more, extolling the benefits of water but she told me that it filled her up. I tried everything, cooking great meals, going to great restaurants, buying the best desserts... Nothing changed, she would eat just a bit and say that her stomach was too small. Now she's gone home and I'm 2000 miles away. I found out from her sister (after my friend left) that she had been diagnosed with anorexia over a year ago. I love my friend like my closest family and desperately want to help.

I need help. I hope that I can find some help here. I'm looking for advise for methods to get her to increase her appetite, the best ways that I should talk to her about the problem and any other advise that i can get. I'm at square #1. Honestly, I feel so uninformed but I'm willing to do whatever it takes to learn how to help.

Thanks you all in advance for reading and your help.

Hi JustJim!

We are glad that you are finding support here on the NEDA forums. A small portion of your post was edited due to the mention of specific numbers that may be triggering to other forum members. Our community guidelines are always available to review here, In the event you need further assistance please call the NEDA helpline at 1-800-931-2237 (M-Th 9-9 EST and F 9-5 EST).

Again, thank you for posting, and we hope you will continue to do so!

Welcome to the Forums!

Hi JustJim! Welcome to the forums and thank you for sharing your story with us. I sorry to hear about your friend! I recommend checking out the Parent Toolkit (I promise its not just for parents!) Link available here:

The Toolkit has a lot of great resources that help explain eating disorders and also has a section on supporting a loved one, including information on how to talk to loved one and how to encourage them to seek help.

Please continue to post and keep us updated on your friend!

Welcome to the forum!

Hi JustJim!
Welcome to the forums! I'm so sorry to hear about your friend. It sounds like you are doing the right things in learning how to help her; I understand why you are concerned. Even if you did live closer it can be very difficult deciding how best to provide support. I recommend you check out this link for help on what to say and to learn more about eating disorders: If you think the time is right, maybe you can ask if she is currently speaking with a health professional? NEDA can help her find resources in her area if she is interested. If you call the NEDA helpline you can also get information on support groups if that is something you are interested in (for her and also if you need it for yourself; 1-800-931-2237).

Please keep us updated!

Hey Jim,


So do you think she knows that you've caught on to her problem ? That's going to make a difference I think.

Like whether the relationship you share is going to contain that bit of acknowledged information or not…if you know what I mean ?


Hi Jim


That is amazing that you are so in tune with your friend and so eager to help! If it's been a year now, she must know what is going on and what she should and should not do in regards to eating a meal. Trust me...every time you treat her to food and deserts she is incredibly grateful somewhere in there and really wants to allow you to help. But the eating disorder is incredibly controlling and causes such anxiety that every time you buy her something, especially deserts, it will cause such fear that she can't eat. I know it. It wraps you up and takes away the person you know your friend is. What she NEEDS to hear is how concerned you are. She needs to get shocked into getting help, it's one of the only ways. Her brain isn't totally functioning and it's hard to convince a person to get help. But I would definitely recommend that she see a dietician. A dietician and therapist are the first steps to recovery. There are lots of options, but it must be extremely hard to see her like that. Best of luck, and you need someone to talk to as well!!! Don't forget about your own health!