Bingeing and purging...need Advice.

Updated on February 08, 2011
K.L. asks from Story City, IA
10 answers

I just found out today that my little sister has been binging and purging since the fall. She's almost 22, a senior in college to become an amazing nurse and is probably the healthiest person I know. She has been getting on my mom about being a healthier person and we are shocked to find this out! She's seeing a therapist, nutritionist and doctor and they say she's doing a great job by admiting her problem and working to fix it. I've been talking to my mom throughout the day and she is just so worried. I've also been talking to my sister about it and she wants me to keep my mom happy! She hasn't told our dad is doing that!

Does anyone have any experience with this? Is there anything I can do to help her through this? It is just so shocking because she's just brilliant(not that that has anything to do with it) and preaches healthy living! I'm just wondering if there is anything I should be doing or how I can help my parents thru this too! They worry about us quite a bit!

Thanks in advance!

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answers from Chicago on

Just being there for her is all you really need to do, it seems she is getting the help she needs. Eating disorders are a lot like addictions and she will have to go thru a process and just being there for her to support her thru the process is all you can/need to do right now. Let her know that you are avail if she needs you and until she asks for you to phyiscally do something you are there for her emotionally.

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answers from Dallas on

I did that in college and my roommate confronted me. It was probably the best thing that ever happened. There is a misconception about bulemia - it really does not help you lose weight. The calories can still be absorbed. Plus, it rots your teeth, causes bad breath and if serious enough, can tears your esophagus apart. I am sure your sister knows all this.
Eating disorders are a cry for help/control issue. The fact that she has admitted it is a huge step. You may need to 'babysit' her for a while, as she still may try to hide it.

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answers from Chicago on

Be there for her. Right now she needs your support and understanding. She's taking all the right steps and it will help her to know you are there for her. Find a therapist who specializes in eatting disorders for your family to go to so you will be able to understand better what your sister is going through and how to help. It is great that she is already in therapy and it has been only going on since the fall. Do not comment on what she's eatting or her weight unless she brings it up. Focus more on showing her how much you love her and how important she is to you. Understand that it is not something that she can stop because someone tells her to. It goes much deeper than that. It could have to do with the stress of college or self-image. The underlining cause is something her therapist and her will be working on. Remember it may be a long road to recovery but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

I had an eatting disorder during highschool and my daughter is struggling with one right now. Both of our eatting disorders started because of different reasons. She can get through it, it just will take time. If you have any questions feel free to email me. I know it is hard and sometimes you may need someone just to talk to.

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answers from New York on

Your sister will need to keep going to counseling. Often, women who are very smart and knowledgeable about nutrition and healthy lifestyles are the ones most vulnerable to harmful eating habits. The harmful eating habits are often a manifestation of a stress in her life -- something that is causing her to be depressed or anxious (?school or a bad breakup/relationship, or something like that). That is how counseling can help.

Please take this very seriously. I am not sure if your sis has an eating disorder right now or not, but she is certainly at very high risk for developing one in the near future if she is not already there. Eating disorders can be tough to treat and can carry a devastating impact on many lives -- not just hers, but also the ones who love her, like you. She very likely will not be able to go it alone -- you may need to help her along by attending some counseling or nutrition sessions with her.

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answers from Cumberland on

Advice for you-stay out of it. Advice for Sis-stop -you're destroying your health-and you are not healthy-nor is your heart-a vital organ-if you are binging and purging. I would be worried, too, it is a very complex illness that is not only difficult to treat-it takes everyone down with it. I wish all of you the best of luck-you are going to need it. I would have your sister look into EMDR therapy. It is used in a myriad of situations-it's inexpensive and has amazing, fast results. She started last fall? Right.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I would just remind them that she really does have a good head on her shoulders and so should respond very well to intervention. Hopefully this turns out to be just a phase. I would find out from her if her friends are doing this also. If so talk to her about distancing herself from them.

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answers from Anchorage on

What ever you do, do not judge her!! Saying things like "she should know better" and "she is too smart to do this" will only make it harder for her and push her to rebound. Eating disorders have nothing to do with how smart you are, or how happy. I think it would do your whole family good to go see a therapist that specializes in eating disorders to help you learn about them, and to find a support group.

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answers from St. Louis on

I had a family member go through this as well while she was in college. She all but killed herself before anyone found out. She was NEVER a large person. At her heavist she probably weighted in at 140, but she is 5'7" so she never looked unhealthy until she started losing the weight. She was away at college and when she came home for Christmas break she weighted a whole 75 pounds. My aunt and uncle refused to allow her to go back to college until she maintained a healthy weight. She re-enrolled that next fall to finish up. This all happened about 13 years ago and she is still fighting the problem every day. However, she has a great husband who sees her every day and helps her though the challenges.

This is something that is very difficult not only on your sister, but on your family as well. I wish your family the best with this difficult situation.

For my cuz all we could do was just be there for her. We occupied her after meals for an hour or so. Lots of "wow you look great" or "did you do something different with your hair". She did well with distractions, therapy, good doctors and lots of therapy.

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answers from Cincinnati on

I have been talking about this very thing alot lately. Feb is eating disorder awareness month. you neglected to mention how many times (lets say per week) she is doing this. has she gotten to full blown bulimia (she needs to be doing three times a week for at least three mnths.) i have had extreme bulimia for 7yrs (extreme meaning that i could knock that times a week out before lunch and during the worst of it i was eating 15,000 cal a day and still loosing weight) i dont want to scare you with stats but bulimia is harder to cure than anorexia. but on average 80% of people who get help for their eating disorder beat it. 20% who develope one die from it. i can not stress how much she needs help! people with bulimia are at high risk of dying. like i said i am not trying to scare you i'm sure you are already scared but alot of people dont take this seriously. i am saying this because you may come across this as you try to get your sister help. alot of medical professional dont take it seriously if you are at average weight. but you can die from an eating disorder at ANY weight. B/P risk include ruptering of the esophogus, tearing of the stomach lining, esophogial cancer, stomach cancer, heart problems from low electorlytes, and these are just to name a few. the best advise i can give you is to help her find a therapist that has experience with EDs if you have any questions feel free to private message me

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answers from Los Angeles on

No, there is nothing directly you can do to help her, only to let her know you care about her and try to be understanding. I have too much experience with this. So let me give you a little glimpse into her mind. Your sister is still all those things, smart and heath conscious. She has two sides to her mind: a healthy self and and unhealthy self. Right now the unhealthy has taken over and she is unable to control her behavior through self control. She will need to work on getting her healthy self to outweigh the unhealthy self before self control will play any part in her recovery. So keep that in mind if you think it will do her good to "babysit" her on her progress. Its the mind that needs changing, not her access to a toilet bowl after a meal. Also to answer your question on where she got to this point. the binge/purge cycle doesn't pop out of now were or start in a vacuum. It is always the result of restrictive eating. Its a pendulum and when you pull it too far one way (calorie restricting), it swings out the other way, binging. And this behavior soon becomes a way to deal with negative feelings like anxiety or stress much like a cigarette or a drink. To correct a previous commenter, bulimia has a much much higher recovery rate than anorexia. Hope this helps you understand her better.

1 mom found this helpful
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