I have a friend who is bulimic and am looking for advice.

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I have a friend who is bulimic and I am looking for some advice. The girl is very skinny, but not too thin yet. She has confided in only me that she is throwing up her meals around once a day to lose weight. She tells me that it’s not out of control and she is going stop after losing 20 pounds. I don’t know if it is out of control yet or not but I am worried about her anyway. She just started doing this about a month and a half ago or so.

I have done everything I know to try and get her to stop, but nothing works. I have explained to her that even if her problem isn’t out of control, it is still not a proper way to lose weight. I have told her that she looks fine and doesn’t need to lose weight. I have even threatened to tell the proper authorities on her. (To be honest with you, I don’t even know who the proper authorities are.) No matter what I say to her she tells me not to worry and she’ll stop as soon as she loses her 20 pounds. I would appreciate any advice or information, you could give me.

You are pretty astute. The proper authority would be her family, doctor or psychologist. Depending on your and her relationship to her family. Tell your friend beforehand that you will be talking to her family.

First, switch approaches and talk to her about how unhealthy throwing up is and that you worry about her health. She will not hear you say that she looks fine.

Second, her weight is not the issue and throwing up even once a week is unhealthy. Besides, the body can’t be fooled into losing weight and people with bulimia soon discover that throwing up doesn’t help them lose weight due to binging. The problem comes when they cannot stop binging on food and alcohol.

Food is not the issue. Your friend needs to see a psychologist who specializes in eating disorders to deal with issues that got her preoccupied with her weight. A Registered Dietitian can help her with a healthy eating plan to achieve a healthy weight goal.

You say that she is skinny. Is she also anorexic? This is a dangerous combination that can lead to depletion of electrolytes (sodium and potassium) in the body when starvation and vomiting are combined with laxatives.

Use the Healthy Body Calculator® to determine a healthy weight for your friend. Again, when referring to her weight, if she is too thin, tell her that she looks unhealthy.