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When Thinner Isn't Better

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Guest blogger Dani Klein Modisett: How do you tell a woman who is excited to be svelte after several pregnancies that she's taken it too far?

woman not eating

"No thanks, I already ate at home," my dear friend tells the waiter approaching the table. She was more than 15 minutes late to our lunch and seeing as I am going to be nursing my son until he's 30, I was starving and had already ordered.

"Sorry I didn't get here on time," she said, sitting down and dropping her purse on the table with a thud. "I had a hard time leaving the house today," she continued, pulling her phone out of the bag and placing it on the table.

It was then that I noticed something was different about her arms. Where once they looked like arms, they now resembled long toothpicks covered in flesh. And her face was gaunt too, like an Edvard Munch sketch.

"That's cool," I said, diving in to the breadbasket like an aardvark that is handed a bag of termites. "Excuse me, can we get some olive oil?" I barked to a passing waiter. It's very important to have fat in your diet when you're breastfeeding. Which is, of course, one of the reasons I am still breastfeeding.

"So what's going on?" I asked my friend, wiping crumbs from my mouth.

"I don't know ... I'm just really tired all the time. Two kids is a lot."

Especially if you don't eat, I think, dipping my piece of focacia in the newly arrived pool of oil.

"Well, are you eating enough?" I asked, as casually as you can ask a person who looks like a well-dressed skeleton.

"What do you mean? I eat all the time. I had a whole croissant yesterday."

"Really?" I had two muffins, half a chicken, a latte, and a 16 oz. container of Faye greek-style yogurt. Before 12 noon. I didn't say that out loud because it's a revolting amount of food even to a normal person, let alone an anorexic.

That's harsh. Or is it? Could it be that this person I have known through two pregnancies and well into her 40's has somehow developed a predominantly twenty-something eating disorder?

And if so, what can I do to help her?


next: Neighbor: Octuplets From Sperm Donor
152 comments so far | Post a comment now
Natalie February 1, 2009, 6:45 AM

There’s nothing you can do until she see’s that there is a problem herself. Anorexics are like addicts, they won’t get help until they hit rock bottom.

Megan February 1, 2009, 8:31 AM

Do you know for a fact that she’s anorexic? I only hear your voice in this and it may be jealousy. Get her voice in here too (I mean write from both point of views instead of just one side) And yes I know people who have been anorexic along with other eating disorders so I know how/what goes on in their heads.

ashley February 1, 2009, 9:53 AM

I have a very good friend in her late 30’s and she looks amazing to me. She has big tata’s and is super fit. I have only known her about a year and a half. So last year when summer hit and we started going to the pool together I noticed how skinny she really was and how unsexy it is. She even asked me lately if she looks anorexic in her face because her hubby had said something about it. I lied and said no. I don’t know, I just don’t see her eat much and she runs like 4 miles a day.

Miss Muffet February 1, 2009, 12:49 PM

I have a 67 year old friend that has purposely dropped 35 lbs in 4 months. She is sporting size 4 jeans. She did need to lose about 15 lbs., but this is over-the-top and the lines in her face and neck are making her look like 77. She eats popcorn and salsa and tiny portions of low cal food. I haven’t said anything as I don’t think it will register. How do these eating disorders crop up? Age seems to have no bearing!

ame i. February 1, 2009, 4:31 PM

I don’t know if there is anything you can do, but you could talk to her spouse and/or doctor or have her spouse or a family member talk to her doctor.
There is no guarantee that she will listen to her doctor, though.
All you can do is express your concern in a very kind, non-judgemental way.
I was 20 pounds overweight when my first husband died. I lost that over 50 pounds in the following months because I just didn’t feel like eating. My family and my doctor finally spoke up when I was down to 108 pounds on a 5’7” frame. Protein shakes helped me put some weight back on until my depression lifted enough to where I had an appetite again.

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