I need help walking through food issues with my girlfriend.

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My girlfriend is pretty bad about eating.  If she can't decide what she would like to eat then she just doesn't eat.  We were at my mom's this weekend and they made us breakfast.  My girlfriend ate hardly a spoon full of the grits and half of a biscuit.  We were on the road for 7 hours that day and all she had were some twizzlers.  When we got home she felt awful.  She's getting ready to go to the doctor to get tested for anemia.  Whenever she eats foods high in iron she tends to feel better but in the mornings she gets up late and doesn't give herself time to eat breakfast.  Unless she brings something from home, she won't eat lunch and a lot of the time she'll just pick at something for dinner.  She used to be a little bit heavier and then began not eating (whether intentionally or not) and lost a lot of weight and I think subconsciously that keeps her from eating more.  Her stomach probably doesn't know what to think and she's already an incredibly picky eater.  When I try to help she gets upset and I know that she's more so speaking out of frustration for her situation.  She see's a counselor but I don't think she assumes this to be an eating disorder.  I want to be supportive and I don't want to aggravate her but I can't sit idly by as she feels like crap all the time.  There has to be a way that I can gently say, "hey, it's time to grow up and take care of ourselves".  I'm on the other end of the spectrum.  I'm extremely overweight and am terrible at saying no to foods.  I want her to know that I'm in this with her.  That I want to make changes in my life as well because I want to be healthy for her.  She wants children and so do I... but I'm deeply fearful of how her body would handle a pregnancy.  If she's not getting nutrients then how the heck is a baby growing inside of her supposed to get them.  Something has to change and I just need some guidance or advice if anyone has any.

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  • Posted

    How thin is she? Without that - its difficult to judge this.

    I know its blunt, but does she look skeletal/gaunt?

    Is she tired a lot of the time? Feeling cold?

    Does she ever feel faint when she stands up?

    Have her periods stopped?

    Does she ever force herself to vomit?

    If it is anorexia - she'll have some reason that she's doing it (which she isn't telling you) and she'll have to realise that it isn't achieving the goal in her own time.

    Whatever you do don't argue with - always speak gently when you broach this topic.

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    • Posted

      She's normal weight.  Dr. says her weight is where it's supposed to be.  She is tired a lot and she is cold a lot... She as orthostasis which is when she loses blood pressure when she stands up rather than a spike in blood pressure which causes extreme dizziness.  The doctors say she doesn't pass out as much as she loses sight and balance and then falls.  She hates vomiting... it's a phobia for her, so no to that.  

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  • Posted

    Hi - sorry to hear about your girlfriend's challenges. I'm amazed that the response below merely asked if she was skeletal. Eating disorders are NOT about weight - there is something which is causing very challenging feelings and an eating disorder is a coping mechanism to deal with these things. Contrary to popular belief, anorexia is the least common of all eating disorders, and in most eating disorders the sufferer presents at a healthy weight. This doesn't meant they aren't at risk, remember these are mental illnesses and the sufferer could be in even greater danger with a healthy weight due to the mental pain caused.

    I wouldn't at all say that the reason why is because you are overweight, but from a lifestyle perspective it could be helpful to think about what you are eating (that will help potential physical issues for you further down the line) but also as she starts to tackle her eating, it can be hard if you are eating loads more than her. Portion sizes are key, rather than cutting meals or any food groups. 

    My other advice for you would be to consider attending one of Beat's online support groups (Beat are the uk's eating disorder charity). There are support groups specifically for carers, and one in particular for men, so you may find others who are going through exactly the same thing as you. These are also completely moderated by trained advisors (unlike this website). 

    I'm not a qualified professional, only qualified in my own experience of an eating disorder. I'm now recovered. I don't know if it's an eating disorder. Lots of people diet but it isn't an eating disorder, nor is an eating disorder a diet gone wrong. I just replied to another post, where someone was suffering with depression but had lost their appetite as a response, so part of this could be something similar, or it could be an eating disorder which she is in denial about. It's great she is having counselling, although I'd probably suggest you look into therapy. Counselling is great for being able to offload, but this tends to be focussed on coping mechanisms rather than the why you are feeling like you are. Again, nothing wrong with learning techniques such as CBT but therapy goes further and helps you work out your feelings. By understanding these you can then look into coping strategies.

    Inbalanced eating will create mood swings, so unfortunately she will probably be difficult to live with at present. Similarly being a low weight means increased anxiety. If she is passing out, then this is likely to be a sign of anaemia or low blood pressure. If she is passing out, then this is a medical risk so you should be consulting your GP and getting regular blood tests done.

    One of the easy things to say is "pull yourself together" or "if you want children you'll need to eat more". This is not helpful at all. Check out Beat's website (their blogs) about things NOT to say to people with an eating disorder. If she an eating disorder, remember it's not her fault, it's not your fault - it is something outside of her control. If pulling yourself together was easy, then all us sufferers would be recovered pretty swiftly. I've suffered since I was 11 and am now 28, so you get the gist as to how hard it can be.

    You can be there to listen - perhaps avoid handing out advice and just let her talk. Try not to act judgemental let her build the trust to talk. And definitely seek support for yourself.

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