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I Think My Boyfriend Has an Eating Disorder. How Can I Help?

I think my boyfriend has an eating disorder. He doesn't eat for a whole day, and the next day he eats but he overeats and then throws it up. I'm worried and I want to help him.
- Sam*

Not everyone realizes that eating disorders can be a problem for guys as well as girls. It says a lot about you and how caring you are that you have noticed your boyfriend's eating patterns.

Eating disorders can be caused by a combination of physical and psychological problems, as well as things that may be going on in a person's life. Someone with an eating disorder almost always needs professional help to get back on track with healthier eating.

It's not always easy for people with eating disorders to talk about it. Start by telling your boyfriend that you're worried. If he seems open to talking, help him to feel comfortable by listening and letting him get things off his chest. Make it clear that you aren't judging or faulting him in any way. Reassure him that you're there for him no matter what and you want to support him.

Sometimes a person isn't ready to acknowledge an eating problem or needs more time. Some people worry that they'll no longer be controlling the one thing they feel they have control over (what they eat). Try not to get angry or frustrated if it feels like your boyfriend is rejecting your help. It can be really hard for someone to judge his or her own eating habits and decide if they're healthy or not. Some people realize they're struggling and some don't.

People with eating disorders can get very sick if they don't get treatment. So you may need to talk to your parents or a school guidance counselor or school nurse if your boyfriend doesn't get help or if you're really worried.

Offering your support while he deals with these issues is often the best thing to do. There might be lots of ups and downs and it may help to ask your boyfriend if he's willing to work with professionals who specifically work with guys.

Whatever happens, you might feel stressed out or have strong emotions of your own. Take care of yourself and reach out for your own support from friends, family, or a professional therapist or counselor.

Reviewed by: Michelle New, PhD
Date reviewed: October 2014

*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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