Hi, I’m afraid that my girlfriend is developing an eating disorder, she has always been thin but recently she is talking about feeling gross because she thinks she ate too much. Today she ate eggs with toast for breakfast, and then ate a half a grilled cheese and some soup for lunch. She then did not eat for the rest of the day because she felt like she had overeaten. She also goes to the gym and works out most every day. She says she feels like she’ll look better if she eats less, but I’ve tried to tell her that if she’s going to work out a lot then good nutrition is very important, but she feels the best when she’s hungry after the gym. I’ve tried to talk to her about it but I can’t seem to get through. I’m worried she is living an unhealthy lifestyle and developing a problem and I’m not sure how to deal with it. Please help!


A: You are right to be concerned. While giving a diagnosis would be inappropriate over the Internet, the signs and symptoms of anorexia and what has been referred to as anorexia athletica are similar to what you describe. I would enlist the help of either a registered dietitian or a physical trainer at the gym. Either of these two professionals is well equipped to offer information. Your depth of caring about your girlfriend is admirable, and you can offer her a deal: You will back off if she gets a consult from a legitimate professional who will say her eating habits are not putting her in danger.

As you are in college, your counseling center is likely to have a great deal of experience with young women such as your girlfriend; you can bring your concerns to them. Even if she doesn’t respond to your concerns, you can find support for yourself through them.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan