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CMCOLE Posts: 2,667
5/30/13 6:36 A

from all you've said - it sounds like she's looking to control the things she CAN (or at least try to do so), especially since she has an out-of-control relationship with the bf.

It's sad, but common.

But, talking to her about food won't likely help.
Just be her friend.
Talk to her about other stuff.
Offer to do things with her she likes to do (shop, libraries, museums, whatever).
Just keep the focus off the things she's obsessing about, I guess.
Until she sees the problem; it likely won't change.

5/27/13 11:58 A

It's been a while since there was a post from you. How is your sister? I am a mum with 2 daughters... Each developed an eating disorder. Both started by eating "healthy". My oldest has recovered but my younger is in the battle of her life. Me trying to lose weight has had to take a back seat as we battle the mental state the anorexia has brought. A malnourished brain is a scarey state to see and some of your description sounds like what we have too. Another website I have found helpful is, we can't do much till the person wants to getbetter but we can certainly be there and be ready to step in when they do want to get better. I hope thingrs are better. It's a long road in recovery but it can be done. Be careful yourself. They have said they believe there are genetic links with eating disorders and dieting can trigger it and awaken the monster inside. So be careful. Wishing and hoping things are better.

AILEBBELIA SparkPoints: (13,418)
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1/18/13 11:03 P

I am in recovery from an ed and in therapy. I would really suggest that you COMPLETELY stop this:

"Weight loss/food are VERY common topics of discussion for us,..."

My family knows the drill:
They do not ever, ever talk about food or weight in front of me because Eds are not about food and weight. People with eds use food and weight to avoid or control ..

For a person with an ED, food and weight are on our minds 24/7 (We can't turn it off.
Everything and everyone fades into the background.) Also look into the term Alexithymia.

Anyways, that's why she gets mad.
Give her some relief and focus the discussion around other topics. At the height of my disorder, I isolated away from friends and family because they just wanted to talk about food and weight (it didn't feel safe) that caused me to further isolate.

I slowly started reaching out to people when my T. suggested non-food activities.

If she does have an Ed, during her recovery process, the obsession with food will die down.
that means your whole relationship is going to change.

Also, orthorexia is not even in the DSM. People with orthorexia have a completely different mindset and different behaviors than people with anorexia or bulimia so do your research.

i'm really sorry your family is going through this. My family used the FEAST website :

NIRERIN Posts: 14,275
1/18/13 6:10 P

the best thing you can do is not burn any bridges and be the family member in contact with your sister. yes, that kind of behaviour can go hand in hand with eating disorders. but it doesn't exclusively go hand in hand with eating disorders. be a sister and leave that topic off limits unless/until she decides to broach it.
also are you actually eating with her enough that you have a very good idea of everything she is eating? because you can't judge a diet by one meal alone, even if you are talking looking at sunday dinner every week. it could be she is saving up for a splurge she would rather have or trying to balance out what she did yesterday. unless you're eating more than 2/3 of your meals with her, you really don't know for sure.
and finally if she has recently moved closer or farther from your parents, it could just be asserting adult independence. i know at her age there were still a few things that i did differently on my own, that when i came home i did that i did not want to do anymore, and the easiest way to remedy that is to take a hard line for a while.

AUDREYUK Posts: 631
1/18/13 3:42 P

She's your sister and as you said one of your best friends. I think if your gut is telling you something is wrong there probably is. I don't have any advice, but some googling came up with these links. Maybe they can help. (I tried to post some links, but they are actual documents and somehow didn't work when I posted them.)

I googled: "what to do if you suspect someone you know has an eating disorder"

A lot of results came up from well-known sources. I would read through some of those if I were you. I wish you so much luck and strength. You are a good sister!

**Edited to add this link I just found from Notre Dame**

Edited by: AUDREYUK at: 1/18/2013 (15:48)
SLIMMERKIWI SparkPoints: (250,758)
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1/18/13 3:18 P

It sounds like you both have a very good relationship!

Where it comes to the Dr, perhaps if you suggest that it isn't uncommon for people to be lacking certain things in their blood - like iron - and suggest that she go to the Dr and request bloods to check that everything is o.k. Maybe she might be up for a visit from you, and you go with her (on a 'girls' day out') and casually suggest to the Dr that maybe some other bloods could be done to see if there is something going on considering she hasn't had a period for a long time. Then leave it at that. The Dr SHOULD pick up on that one.


REYNINGSUNSHINE SparkPoints: (20,387)
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1/18/13 1:27 P

Whole foods are great. Hopefully nobody is denying that- you all don't sound like that. But it's the attitude- not necessarily what she eats or how she eats- that is a bit off. The DSM is coming up with a new version soon (well, it always is, but this one is particularly big) in which people are lobbying that there be another type of eating disorder where a person is fixated on eating ONLY "healthy" foods (my mom is a psychologist, speaks a lot for the ACA, so I hear about these things in bits and pieces. I haven't talked to her about it fully). From my understanding, it's the rigidity and the disruption into the daily life that is the big problem- life is, after all, about balance. If she eats a certain way but still has positive relations and doesn't have "negative" emotions towards others regarding food, then the concern becomes can she sustain the proper body chemistry? In which case, a physical with a blood draw and full analysis would be best for her, because then even without talking about diet, she can know if this "whole foods" thing is healthy for her in the whole.

Sadly, with emotional problems, it's harder to diagnose, because there are few quantitative values. She might never understand, if she is perfectly healthy in her body, how her mind can be "sick" (which, don't think of it as "sick" necessarily- most people want to live normal, happy lives).

I would say don't talk to her about the food. Talk to her about the other aspects of her life. How is her work life? Love life? Doesn't she miss Mom and Dad? Is there any way to patch up old relationships? Then, if it gets into this, you can ask her why she is choosing this whole foods eating over relationships and love (familial, friendly, or otherwise). She might take offense, but be candid and say that it's not just the food issue, it's that you want her to be a part of the family and to have a happy life, and you don't see how happiness can exist truly without love.

That's the route I'd go, anyway. But you know her best.

1/18/13 12:44 P

I feel for you. It sounds like you have a good relationship. I wish I knew what to suggest.

BME_22 SparkPoints: (22,103)
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1/18/13 11:44 A

AG - she's 5'7".

And nobody is really telling her she's being unhealthy. My mom sent a link to a blog about eating whole foods (PRO-whole foods). My sister got nasty with her, even though I would have thought she'd be interested in reading more about it. My dad asked questions about what she eats every day. She got defensive. The only real "attack" was when my mom asked her if she was still getting her period, and related how when she was a young adult (and was purging at least once/day, though idk if my sister knows about that part) she didn't get her period and she couldn't get pregnant until she reached a healthy weight. And apparently no, my sister isn't getting hers, either.

She has friends, but none closer than I live (two hours away). I might be one of her closest friends. She's one of mine.

I suggested yesterday that she show me her food logs, so I could "get dad off her back". She wouldn't, but says she's eating enough calories, so. Yeah. I thought of suggesting she try to eat more nuts as a snack, but something about omega-3s and omega-6s..., we've had that convo before and she's not open to the idea.

And the last thing I can think of to respond to, I don't think she has a doctor. I'm sure she's got insurance, but I doubt she's seen anyone in the last few months.

I just want to stress, I haven't ever told her she's being unhealthy or that I don't approve. HeII, I bought her an electric blanket for Christmas so she wouldn't freeze her skinny little butt off in her apartment and she could keep the heat lower. We talk about food a lot - I've lost 65 lbs in the last year after having a baby. I would love to eat a whole-foods plant based diet and I eat whole foods when I can, so we share ideas/recipes. We go shopping for new jeans every time she visits. Weight loss/food are VERY common topics of discussion for us, and I've never been disapproving of her. Watching her the last month or so, it seems like she's taken it all to a new extreme, and it does concern me. Was just looking for advice on how to suggest that she talk to someone...

Edited by: BME_22 at: 1/18/2013 (11:44)
SARAH_45 Posts: 395
1/18/13 10:58 A

It's okay to eat healthy, but eating disorders are really about mindset and it sounds like she has an unhealthy one. Restrictive, controlling, hostile, isolated...these are all red flags. It's good to want to eat healthy foods, but not to the point where it consuming 100% of your life. There is an unofficial eating disorder called orthorexia which sounds like exactly what she is going through (
ervosa). Unfortunately because it gets disguised as healthy eating so of course it can't be a problem! But I think any eating disorder is about letting food rule your life. On the other hand, I'm not sure there's much you can do because it's not recognized as a diagnosable eating disorder, so it would be hard to get her to go to a counselor. Maybe suggest she go to a nutritionist to see how well she's lining up (something she might be excited about because she's so obsessed with food), and then a professional can decide if this is unhealthy.

I went through something similar myself and ultimately it led to me binging because I felt so out of control being so controlling about my diet. And that led to purging. So that's not true in all cases obviously but there could be dire consequences.

ALGEBRAGIRL Posts: 1,925
1/18/13 10:45 A

You and your parents both have made your opinions known to her. You've commented. You noticed. She answered. Unless she HATES doctors and doesn't trust anyone, I'd say 'back off.' For the simple reason that you yourselves are applying heat to a pot that is already boiling - is it getting you anywhere?

Not only would I back off, as much as it may hurt to do that, but if you said, at a family meal, for example: 'We are concerned about you but it is your life and you're an adult. You're in charge of your own eating habits and you have a doctor who can give you any advice you need. Now, we are going to let you do whatever you do, on your own, with your diet and your food and it will no longer be an issue with us. Ultimately, you're responsible for your own body, and we're making this topic off-limits. We love you too much to spoil our time together. We're always here for you, you should know that.'

One thing you don't mention is whether your sister has any friends. Does she go out with friends? One possibility is that she may eventually meet another guy and have a better relationship than the long-distance relationship she is trying to make work. Many things can change - on their own - but it does take time.

Driving a certain way, managing money a certain way, eating a certain way - it all can be disconcerting to people who don't have those habits themselves. However, focusing on them can actually make what you think is a problem worse, because it can cause serious resentment on the part of the person who has the 'problem.' She may be trying new things in her life, and that's her right. The good news may be that these new things won't last as long as you think. They may be replaced by other new things, just on her timetable, and her choices, not yours.

The whole 'harsh personality' perceived in your sister may be just her expressing herself when people try to give her opinions about many things they see wrong in her choices. That's why I asked about friends (by the way, the friends shouldn't be enlisted to try to help family make changes - unless friends approach you and say, 'I'm worried about her!)

I know how I sound. Like I don't appreciate the severity of the situation. However, being a size 0/0 has to be taken in the context of her height, which we don't know. The whole foods she's eating - is she constantly sick? How has she been fighting off colds, for example? The best thing you can do is appreciate (without commenting to her) the fact that she even goes to the doctor. All over the internet, there are people on extreme diets. The Whole Food diet is one of the least whacky, believe me.

SLIMMERKIWI SparkPoints: (250,758)
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1/17/13 4:20 P

BME_22 - You have talked with your sister about her Eating Disorder, and yes, it IS that! By badgering her you will drive her further away, and she may become more secretive about what and how much she eats. Often there is an emotional component to an Eating Disorder - Depression and/or Anxiety issues. My suggestion to you is that IF you know who her Dr is, phone and have a talk with him/her explaining exactly what is going on; her behavior/personality change; her clothing size from/to; her reactions to others' comments, and the fact that your mother had an Eating Disorder. After that you can really only leave it to her Dr and her. When you are around her perhaps you could have some little nibbles with you - things that she USED to eat, and offer them (but not force them) once, then leave them in a bowl on the table and just help yourself now-and-then, when she is in view. It may tempt her.

Good luck,

1/17/13 3:08 P

I can understand your fears. My sister developed an eating disorder and ultimately ended up on a psychiatric ward. I was in the middle between my sister and my mother and it was a nightmare.

But because your mother had an eating disorder, the family may be overreacting to your sister's food choices. Even if she does have control issues, trying to influence what she eats or questioning her will only aggravate it. Be supportive and don't treat her like the designated family problem. It sounds like she's going through a rough patch in life. Your concern and desire to help is admirable, but it sounds like the most helpful thing you could do for her is let her make her own choices and just be there for her.

NAUSIKAA Posts: 4,848
1/17/13 2:10 P

"And today, she told me she just wants people to leave her alone and quit bugging her about her eating habits."

Try leaving her alone and quit bugging her about her eating habits.

She's an adult, she knows you love her, she told you that for a reason -- she needs someone close to her in her family NOT to be one more of the people that bug her about what she eats. Your description of her diet sounds pretty reasonable to me for a person who is trying out a clean vegan diet. Most people will eventually move on from this diet unless it really suits them. Give her the benefit of the doubt. It is really really frustrating to have family members not give you the benefit of the doubt.

DRAGONCHILDE SparkPoints: (61,458)
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1/17/13 1:42 P

Given the way she's reacted to your other family members' attempts, I don't think she's going to welcome or thank you for yours. You don't know that she has a problem. She's an adult, living on her own. IF she wants to open up to you about it, she will... but not if you start the conversation. Just keep supporting her and loving her, and be there for her if she needs you. Maybe you can even start a "What is up with mom and dad? Have they been asking you about your eating lately?" and see if that starts a dialogue with her. Let her rant. And if (and only if) she brings it up, then you can respond to anything she mentions.

Maybe even mention "I've been on this Sparkpeople thing trying to lose weight. I feel fantastic!" *without* mentioning your concerns or her diet at all.

Remember that she may just be tired of people second-guessing her. I've known a lot of vegetarians/vegans who just get constantly hammered in this very meat-oriented southern culture, and they get defensive very easily because people can't conceive of them eating healthy without meat!

BME_22 SparkPoints: (22,103)
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1/17/13 1:27 P

Yes, it's definitely about control. She took a job two hours away from me (and five hours away from where our parents live) when she graduated. Her boyfriend works for the same company I do, so they planned to make the long-distance thing work. Then he took a position at our company that had him relocate overseas - way more long distance than she was planning on. Then he cheated on her, and she decided to try to make it work. I can assure you that she's feeling very helpless in many areas of her life.

She's also trying to turn on her heat as little as possible this winter (uh, it's cold where we live). She drives 10 miles under the speed limit to get the best possible mileage. She's got tens of thousands of dollars sitting in the bank - it's not a money thing. It's totally a control thing.

And like I said, I don't even know if what she's doing is unhealthy. I'm completely un-qualified to determine that. I just want her to talk to someone about it. I have to believe that talking to a professional couldn't possibly hurt her situation. But again, I don't want to drive her away (because like you said, I think it's important that I'm there for her right now). So I guess maybe if I don't want to alienate her, I have to just help her myself. And that kind of sucks :(

SWEDIEPIE Posts: 338
1/17/13 1:25 P

Maybe be curious with her about the amount of protein/carbs she gets in a typical day? If her macronutrients are in line, then it's just possible she IS doing the right thing, following a vegetarian or vegan or similar route.

I can definitely understand why you would be worried. More and more people are doing it now, so don't let it worry you so much if she is meeting the nutritional requirements she needs. She might just be very, very in tune with what her body needs after 8 months.

When I told someone close to me yesterday that I made the decision to go Gluten Free (and Dairy Free for a time) because I wanted to discover if it was a source of a reaction I have, I got a "Oh that's drastic- how can you DO that? I could NEVER do that!" and it immediately got me on the defensive. It's my choice. And in my mind, for me, a good one. I've also been eating clean (as best as I can, it's still a process) and I get eyerolls. I think it puts anyone on the defensive if they've done the research, made the decision and gone with it.

If she knows you are asking her because you love her and are concerned and that you aren't going to judge her decisions based on what you would choose, hopefully she can open up with you.

RAINBOWCHARMER SparkPoints: (82,095)
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1/17/13 1:14 P

Since she's an adult, you cannot really "DO" a whole lot about her choices. What you CAN do is be there for her, in whatever capacity she allows at this point.

Eating disorders are a form of control. It sounds to me like there is something in her life (or maybe a lot of things in her life) that feel very out of control for her, and this is the one thing at this point her life that she can control absolutely. Growing up and moving out on your own is a scary process - I don't know where she's been or what she's been through or if anything has happened or is happening to her that would cause her to need that tight grip on this situation, but my best advice would be to be there for her. Pushing her to change or questioning her is going to push her further away. But continue to be that solid presence for her, and make sure she is aware that you're there if and when she needs to talk or ask for help, etc.

I guess the good news is she IS eating. And her food choices aren't necessarily unhealthy. But too few calories is certainly not good long-term. Hopefully she'll feel centered enough to relinquish this sooner rather than later.

Perhaps invite her to some yoga classes. Yoga seems to be a very good way to center yourself and reconnect with your body. The more I have gotten into it, the better I treat my body - almost on a subliminal level at first, but it's becoming more noticeable.

I wish you much luck and peace about this issue. I know it's hard to not latch on and try to fix it.

BME_22 SparkPoints: (22,103)
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1/17/13 12:54 P

I mean, I've spoken with her about it on several occasions. I have a pretty decent guess about what she's eating. She has a smoothie in the morning - banana, ice, milk, peanut butter (only a tsp, because (her words) that's all you really need to get the flavor of it). She eats a sweet potato with onions and spinach for lunch, and something similar for dinner. She has an apple or carrots for a snack twice a day.

But IDK, it's almost more than WHAT she eats, more her attitude about it, and how her diet is becoming more and more restrictive. My dad thinks her personality has changed, that she's a lot more harsh now than she used to be. She won't eat out with us, and must make a special meal for herself when she's over at my house (no matter how accommodating I try to be). And today, she told me she just wants people to leave her alone and quit bugging her about her eating habits. It's just raising some red flags. My mom struggled with an eating disorder as a teen/young adult, so maybe I'm just looking for problems where there aren't any. But where do you draw the line between healthy and obsessively so? I don't think I'm qualified to draw that line, but I'd really like her to talk to someone who is. I just don't know how to broach that subject with her :-/

SWEDIEPIE Posts: 338
1/17/13 12:39 P

Maybe when you talk to her, you could approach it as "hey can you talk to me about it, because I might be interested in going that route for my own health." I don't mean to sound like it should be shady, but express an interest to have her open up to you.

Good luck, and it's nice of you to worry about your sister and take an interest in her health.

1/17/13 11:04 A

This sounds a lot like my hairdresser. She brought up her whole foods, plant based diet and I was interested so I asked her how she made sure she got her daily calories in and her answer was that calories don't matter, what matters is how what you eat nourishes your body. This while showing me her palm to indicate the entirety of her meals. Wow.

You're a good sister and she may respond better to a less questioning approach. I've included an article that might help you start. Good luck to you and your sister.

BME_22 SparkPoints: (22,103)
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1/17/13 10:05 A

I don't know where to go with this, so I'm hoping someone here can give me some advice.

Over the past 8 months, my sister (who is 23, living on her own) has changed her eating habits drastically. She was never overweight, but she read "In Defense of Food" and promptly started eating a whole foods plant based diet. Since then, she has cut out more and more "unhealthy" foods. She still eats several times a day, but it's WHAT she's eating (or not eating, rather) that worries me. She's gone from a size 4/6 to a size 00/0 in that time.

My mom has tried to talk to her about it. She sent a link to a blog about whole-foods eating, and my sister sent her a nasty response about how she'd just like to be left alone and for people to stop criticizing her food choices. This worries me even more. She has been downright hostile with our dad, who asked her to describe what she eats in a day, and then tried to joke with her to imply that she should be eating more, or perhaps not socially isolate herself so much with her food choices.

So... I don't even know that she HAS a problem, but what can I do to express my concern? It seems like both of our parents have alienated her by questioning her choices, and I don't want to burn the last bridge. But at the same time, I really would like to see her talking to some sort of a professional about this.

Does anyone have any experience with anything like this? Any advice for how to approach her so she's listen instead of becoming defensive and closing off like she's done with my parents?

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