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Help - how do I act eating with somebody with 'anorexic behaviour'

(4 Posts)
Bambleweeny57 Sun 28-Aug-11 12:30:04

I have namechanged as my friend knows I am a mumsnetter.

To try to summarise, I have a dear friend who has been going through a terrible time from a psychological point of view for the past year or so. I have been doing my best to support her and she is being well looked after by some health care professionals.

She has been anorexic and bulimic in the past but had got through all that. However, recently her symptoms (sorry, I am trying to be vague) have changed and she has started rigidly restricting her calorie intake. She has lost a LOT of weight very quickly.

Her HCPs know about this and are tackling it, so I don't need to worry about 'letting anyone know.' She is not underweight - yet! - but she knows, and the HCPs have said, that her behaviour is 'anorexic behaviour' and it needs addressing.

Obviously I need to keep my big nose out, let the professionals do their job and support my friend, which is what I intend to do.

However, we usually meet for lunch a couple of times a week, and I am not sure how I should behave, now that she is so different to how she used to be when we used to meet up before the summer holidays.

Should I:

- stuff my face like I did before, provide the same sort of food I always did and let her eat as little as she wants I think this would be cruel

- provide very low calorie stuff, make sure she knows how many calories are in it and eat the same as she does This is what I want to do but surely it's enabling her and normalising it

- do the second one when we are at home but when eating out eat what I like
seems a waste of money to eat out when she is eating next to nothing

- ask her how she wants me to act is this more enabling?

Help! She is still keen to meet for lunch still. I am so scared of fucking this up and making things worse for her.

madmouse Sun 28-Aug-11 14:23:59

Wow well done for not making assumptions - that's very helpful to her smile - you are a very thoughtful friend x

She has obviously shared with you where she stands right now and I would just ask her. Realistically it's best if you model normal eating by eating an ordinary lunch, but not watch her eat and not say anything about what she does or doesn't eat. The anorexic mindset is so complex, she may get a bit of a control high out of not eating much while you eat normally, so it's a bit of a no win situation. Make the most of her being keen to meet for lunch - social isolation is her enemy.

TheBolter Sun 28-Aug-11 14:29:11

Being an anorexic in recovery myself and therefore posible having an idea of your friend's thoughts on eating out, I would suggest that you go about your business as usual and not make a big deal of the situation. Believe me, if she doesn't want to eat she won't. As madmouse says, don't say anything and let her get on with exercising her control. Believe me, an anorexic will usually know how to navigate a social situation like this.

Well done for being so aware.

Bambleweeny57 Mon 29-Aug-11 19:28:42

Thank you so much, both of you, for your advice. I'm really grateful.

The reminders of the complex nature of her mindset are also helpful. Generally speaking, I am rather prone to dispensing "half-arsed psychology" but I know I am way out of my depth with this one and need to shut my big gob. Difficult, as of course I just want to help. But she has professionals for that... so I shall try to butt out and be as normal as possible. Oh it's awful. sad

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