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Accusations of Eating Disorders and How to Handle It

Hey all. :)

When I lost my first thirty pounds (I'm 5'6", went from 155 to 125 in a few months), I was a senior at college. People had three different reactions to my weight loss:

1. No reaction
2. Supportive and complimentary
3. B*tchy

Number 3 came in two forms: One was girls claiming that I had changed since my weight loss, that I thought I was "all that." It made me sad, because in fact what had happened was that I had simply gone from shy and quiet to confident and happy. I think girls often don't like changes in the status quo.

The second way number 3 came into play was with accusations of an eating disorder. Now, there is a huge difference between being nosy/accusatory and being concerned. I carefully monitered my diet and exercise to ensure I was losing no more than 2 pounds a week. I was also honest with my friends: when they asked me if I knew I was losing weight, I told them that I was on a diet and was really excited about the weight loss. Still, the comments came: "I'm worried about you." "Don't you think you've lost enough?" "Are you taking care of yourself?" "Are you eating enough?"

It can be difficult to know how to handle these remarks. From close friends, they are a mark of concern and love. The best response in this situation is to be honest, I think: Tell them that you're on a diet, that you'd never do anything to endanger your health, and that you'd really love their support in this.

However, from casual acquaintances, this type of thing can be vexing -- especially if it's obvious that you're not an unhealthy weight. It's interesting to note that all of these comments came from other girls my age (between 20 and 23). I think the thing to keep in mind is that people are often put off by change, and nosy by nature. The best thing to do when people who don't know you well enough to make these comments make them, is to simply let them know that the comment is inappropriate in a polite way: "Thanks for your concern, but my health is a private matter. I would appreciate it if you respected my judgment."

Thu. Mar 2, 8:23am

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One thing to be aware of is that it is quite possible to have an eating disorder without being underweight or overweight. There are a lot of bulimics, for instance, who no one would guess has that problem.

As to why people feel the need to ask you, who knows? Even if you DID have anorexia, you wouldn't be likely to respond, "Why yes, I have terrible anorexia problems!" Maybe they have a disorder themselves, and are looking for someone to talk to about it.

Thursday, March 02, 2006, 10:50 AM

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OP here. My post was directed specifically at people who have lost weight in a very healthy way, and are slightly annoyed by/aggravted by/don't know how to handle random acquaintances making personal comments. It's a very narrow topic, and I would rather it didn't go down the road of discussing actual eating disorders. Thank you for your input, however, and take care.

Thursday, March 02, 2006, 11:00 AM

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Just saying -- if they're "casual acquaintances," you don't know much about them, either. Ever think they might be looking to start a discussion with you about their own problems? Or that they have an experience, maybe with a close relative, that causes them to be excessively concerned? Just as they can't tell by looking at you, you can't tell by looking at them.

And congrats on your healthy weight loss; I bet you look great.

Thursday, March 02, 2006, 11:51 AM

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That's a good point - I do have a tendency to be a bit quick in my reactions to what people say. Next time it happens, rather than taking it personally, I'll take a step back and ask myself whether there could be something else behind the comment. And thank you for the encouragement!

Thursday, March 02, 2006, 1:09 PM

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I'm 5'6 and my goal weight is about 155 because then I will be a size 8. My doctor, when I'd oringinally mentioned I was considering going down to 140 looked at me and said, no, I would be underweight, and she thinks I'd be a fool to go that low. (I am an athlete though with big bones. I'd have to lose a lot of my muscle to get down to even 135). Honestly, no offence, but 125 at 5'6 sounds underweight unless you've got a super petite frame. Even if you go by the standard 100lbs for your first 5' and 5lbs for every additional inch, 125 is underweight. All my friends and family would be seriously concerned if I dropped that low. Losing weight at 2 lbs a week may be healthy, but it doesn't mean you can't lose too much weight.

But I'll be honest, I think any women under a size 6 at 5'6 are too skinny. Some will agree, some won't. It depends on how you like a body to look.

Friday, March 03, 2006, 1:29 AM

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I would just thank your commentators for their concern and explain that anorexia is a serious psychological disorder as well as a physical one and while you're losing weight you're doing it in a healthy manner so they needn't worry.

Friday, March 03, 2006, 3:39 AM

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Jealousy, jealousy, jealousy

I've had a co-worker actually tell my boss that she thought the weight I'd lost was because I had an eating disorder, and what did he think. Thankfully he stuck up for me and said, "No, I've seen her eat well for a long while now and work out in the building's gym." I lost weight at about 2lbs. a week also.
I just think when people are outsiders or very casual acquaintances that they have no genuine concern that you're OK. They're either just pushing their own issues on you, and/or are really jealous that they don't have the same thing going on for themselves. And FORGET IT if you're also successful in other parts of your life AND you lose weight. I actually had someone who I thought was a "friendly" co-worker tell a group of people that I was having an affair with a married man in the company. People are unbelievable!

Friday, March 03, 2006, 12:51 PM

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