trauma and eating disorder advice


======= Date Modified 19 12 2010 11:12:28 =======
I have a friend who has been through a traumatic and distressing experience very recently. Mood-wise, she seems fine, perhaps a little bit snappy sometimes and stressed from time to time, but she's generally happy and acts like her normal self when we're out etc. I have noticed however that she has become weight obsessed. Now, she's not even fat in the slightest -maybe a size 12/14 or something, but she's on this ridiculous diet now (atkins or something similar). She's never out of the gym, and she's talking about losing weight all the time (*all*) the time. She beats herself up if she has a slip up ie, if she eats a chip or something. Can someone tell me, is this a relatively normal coping-mechanism? I don't want to patronise her if she just needs a distraction/project at the moment, but it really is very boring, and a bit weird, because she's always been so happy and confident with the way she looks...


It's probably nothing to worry about, and her way of having some control over her life. So long as her eating habit doesn't start to affect her health it should be fine, and she'll work through it in her own time.

Just be there for her as a friend as usual, to talk to / be company for her as she wants.

Good luck.

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probably agree with bilbo. It may be that she talks about it so much to hide the fact she isn't actually dieting/exercising as she says i.e. she falls off the wagon at home.


Hey Maria! I think the best thing to do is to just keep a bit of an eye on could just be a phase, and lots of people need to find something they can control in periods of stress, but it's not good if it goes too far. I wouldn't make too big a deal of it explicitly, but just be there for her if she needs to talk. I suffered from an eating disorder back in sixth form and once you're in the grips of it, it can be really hard to get yourself out of, it's like a slippery slope. I'm not saying your friend has an eating disorder, but probably best to keep an eye out just in case it starts to get too extreme...Best, KB


Hmm, I'd be concerned actually. Are her diet and gym-fixations causing her to be unhappy, restricting her diet excessively or preventing her from socialising/working as she normally would? It worries me that she seems obsessed and is beating herself up over slip-ups - that's never a healthy approach. The fact that's she's just been through a traumatic experience suggests that she is using this as a coping mechanism. It's not unnatural, but it won't help her for two reasons; 1) it prevents her from dealing with the real issues, 2) it creates a further problem that then needs help.

Many people go through a phase such as this and then give up and move on, but equally, it can develop into an eating disorder and have very serious consequences. If you're close enough then I would talk to her about it. I don't mean attack her eating habits, but just ask if she's ok, say you're concerned that she's being very hard on herself and that you think she's beautiful as she is. If she doesn't want to discuss it then fair enough, but you can open the door and offer her support.


I would totally keep a close eye on this. My cousin went through a traumatic experience years ago when someone very close to her died and she has *never* gotten over it. She was all confused about thing for ages, and after some said a throw away remark about her putting on some weight (not in a nasty way, just in passing, saying she looked good even with it) and my cousin just clutched onto her weight as a coping mechanism. She has told me that it's a way of trying to control things in her life, if she is in control of her weight and can lose it when she wants to, she in control of her life and bad things wont's absolutely heartbreaking to see her, she still looks alright, not anorexic or anything, but shes buliemic and has been for about 7 yers now i think. She refuses to talk about it much, except occasionally.
Maria1, I would say if your friends current weight issues have been kicked off by a traumatic event, it's something that can go too far really easily. It's very difficult to talk about it without it becoming a taboo issue or something they can become extremely defensive about. I would try and get your friend to talk to someone about whatever event has happened, often people who have been through this dont even realise what is the real root of the issues as they deflect it onto other things. If nothing else, odd diets are very bad for your health and should be avoided at all costs!

I don't mean to sound like I'm overexaggerating or anything, I just wish I had realised what was going on with my cousin years ago, now it's entirely part of her and as much as she hates what she's doing to herself, she can't bring herself to stop it. it's become like an addiction with her. Good luck.


May be she needs a bit more company or attention. What about a regular 1hr walk/jog with her. It is so refreshing for me and gets rid of odd feelings that you could get in a commercial gym and is healthier.