My friend just started a crazy diet. How do you know when someone has an eating disorder?

My friend just started a crazy diet. I am really worried about her, but the thing is she is overweight and she says she is just trying to be healthy. How do you know when someone has an eating disorder? -Liz

Liz, you are a good friend for recognizing that something might be up with your friend. The first thing I'd do is to try talking to her. Let her know you're open to listening to her without being judgmental. Remember that she might be guarded or defensive at first. The thing is crazy diets almost never work in the long term, but they can really take a toll on a person's self-esteem. People who go on crazy diets can set themselves up for more serious problems in the end- like an eating disorder. Think of it like this- when some people diet, they restrict their calories as long as they can until they are so hungry that they eat anything in sight. This sets up a pattern of binge eating, which is a type of eating disorder.

On the other hand, some people go on crazy diets and keep restricting their calories even though they are starving and not getting the nutrients their bodies need. People may lose weight and receive compliments, but over time this type of restriction can lead to anorexia, another type of eating disorder.

So I guess my point, Liz, is that your friend might either have an issue, or is on the road to developing an issue because she is on a crazy diet. When you talk with her encourage her to see a nutritionist, dietician (people who can help her create a balanced and healthy eating plan)  or encourage her to check out the tribal health center. Maybe if you suggest going with her, it will actually get her to go.

If the problem keeps happening even after you speak with your friend, you might want to consider talking about it with someone you trust like a family member, a teacher or a counselor. You might feel nervous telling others at first, but remember that you're not betraying your friend—you're only helping her out- which is what true friends do.

Good luck Liz,

Auntie Manda