Is My Boyfriend Anorexic?

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

I’ve been actually worried about this since I’ve met him. He always seemed to have this constant concern of how he looks–especially when it comes to his body. He had even explained once that he wanted to get rid of this supposed “fat” on his lower abdomen (he was literally pinching skin and his stomach was totally concave). I told him (in the past) that I think he’s a bit too thin, so he decided to try gaining weight…

…well…he “tried” gaining weight, but it seems as though every time he puts on 5 to 10 pounds he goes back to not eating and / or over-exercising (once he rode his bike for 10 hours!) and gets back to where he was at prior to the weight gain.

He always seems SO HUNGRY, but every time I try to give him money for food or (sometimes) try to get him to allow me to cook something, he tries to get out of it or just changes the subject……

I have an eating disorder myself…that’s why I really think he does have anorexia, but at the same time, he does TRY to gain weight…but then immediately lose weight to get back to where he was??? It’s extremely confusing.

PLEASE HELP!!!

A: While it would be too difficult to say for certain if he is or isn’t anorexic from the information you have given, the fact that you are concerned is important enough to warrant some attention.

Perhaps the gentlest way to introduce the idea is by approaching it though a nutritional consultation. Since he is clearly an avid bike rider and he exercises regularly, why don’t you make an appointment as a couple to see a registered dietitian — a nutritionist who can look at your eating habits, make suggestions about calorie and body fat and exercise. In this way you can approach the situation by using a more positive approach rather than saying something is wrong. He may be more inclined to go to a professional if you accompany him, and it is seen as a way to optimize performance. It may also help that the professional isn’t a therapist.

Most registered dietitians would be able to spot the eating patterns fairly quickly and be able to make recommendations from there if they felt there was a concern.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 18 Jul 2012

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2012). Is My Boyfriend Anorexic?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 31, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/07/18/is-my-boyfriend-anorexic/