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caly420's avatar

How do you talk to a family member about their (possible) eating disorder?

Asked by caly420 (540points) March 15th, 2010

I think my mom has a binge eating problem.

She has steadily gained ~25 pounds over the past year and a half after a year long stint of working really hard on making her diet healthier and exercising.

She will buy my sister a bag of those powdered sugar covered mini donuts for breakfast and then eat more than half the bag herself that night, then proceed to hide the empty bag. I’ve also noticed how she will eat an entire bag of popcorn or bag of chips or half a gallon of ice cream in one sitting…

The only thing that makes me not think its a ED is that everytime she eats all this food, she is mindlessly reading a book so I’m not sure she realizes she’s doing it.

Regardless, I’m worried about her and her health; How do I talk to her about this (as her 21 year old daughter)?

Any input or help I would appreciate more than you can know!

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8 Answers

Trillian's avatar

Wow. I’d say to discuss it with someone else first, but on second thought, she might not appreciate learning that she had been the topic of discussion.
Can you not just be candid and mention that you’re worried?
Show up for coffee one Saturday morning and just tell her; “Mom, I’m kinda worried about you because…” and lay it all out.
Is there any way that you could offer to go for walks with her or, I don’t know, ask if you could look in her kitchen and suggest s few substitute foods?
Another thing to consider is that she may be depressed, or have an actual ED that should be evaluated by a doctor. How difficult is she to speak with? Is there a chance that she’ll just flip out if you approach her in a concerned manner?

jazmina88's avatar

speak honestly, with compassion. Obviously, she works hard for her kids and has stress.
Your concern should reach her heart.

caly420's avatar

@Trillian She’s one of my best friends so I speak to her very easily. As far as walking goes, when I’m home we do, but she is always having trouble with a pain in her leg (bursitis?), so I’ve tried to help her come up with alternatives like biking or light weightlifting (but she just scoffs). When she gets her leg injected with some kind of steroid shot its better and she does walk some, but the excuse “I don’t have time” is always prevalent.

Thanks for suggestions though!

@jazmina88 That’s kind of the approach I was thinking, thanks.

Trillian's avatar

@caly420 The shot is probably a steroid, it reduces inflammation. If you’re able to approach her, you’re probably good to go that route. Good luck.

sustainable_stability's avatar

Can you think of any reasons that may be contributing to the behavior? Recent stressers? Also, medication can be a very important factor. Several of my medicines made me ravenous and prone to pack on weight. Also, as you mention that she eats mindlessly, sometimes untreated ADHD can contribute to weight gain because the person really just does not pay attention. Treating this condition for me helped quite a bit. I know these are sort of random tangents, but from my personal experience, presence (or absence) of medicine can be a big contributor.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

It’s a brave thing to do this. You gotta put it in a way that isn’t giving her a lecture. The walls always go up in lecture mode.
I’d focus on your concern for her health and reassure that you love her. She may not want to hear it. That’s always a risk in this.
Did something traumatic happen last year or 2?

hopscotchy's avatar

Perhaps a first approach might be to lead by example. It sounds like you are an individual who values a healthy lifestyle. Spend time around her and encourage her to get involved in your health. Visit her and encourage things like going out for a hike, talk about that book you’re reading on wellness, or cook a healthy new recipe you found- together. If this is coming from a medication she is on, from stress in her life, whatever- her ability or inability to participate in the life choices of a loved one could prompt reflection on her part. That might be a good starting point.

SeventhSense's avatar

This is the problem with extreme diets and lifestyle changes. Just look at Jessica Simpson. The extreme swing in the opposite direction. Just try to encourage her by getting involved with some mutual exercise that you can both do together.

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