Guest with an Eating Disorder

Updated on February 11, 2010
E.M. asks from Chicago, IL
9 answers

A friend of my husband is married to a woman who is an anorexic. She is a very nice person and we've socialized a bit, but I wouldn't consider us friends. In fact, this couple has sort of dropped out of my husband's regular circle of friends, which I believe is due to this woman's reluctance to be around food. (Let's face it, it is hard to be in social settings where you don't consume either food or drink!) Anyway, she recently reached out to me via email and suggested a get together. They will be coming to our home for a afternoon visit. In her email, she insisted that I keep it "casual" and not do anything for them, which I believe means she doesn't want me to make any food. However, it feels strange for me to have guests to our home for an afternoon and not offer anything to eat. Especially considering my husband and his friend will probably get hungry. But, I also want this woman to be comfortable. (I should mention that I sincerely hope that she is getting help for her anorexia, but I am not close enough to her to reach out.) Ideas on how I can be hospitible while being sensitive to her?

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answers from Chicago on

Maybe have some optional finger-foods such as chips and salsa, veggies and dip, cut up fruit. Something like that. That sort of setting, it's easy to eat or not, and really nobody notices like they would if you all sat down at a table. I have a friend who was anorexic for many years and finally got some good treatment for it a few years ago. I do see her eat now, but she is still pretty self-concsious about it in social situations. I don't ever bug her about eating, but do make a point of telling her that she looks like she's doing great whenever I see her (and she does!)

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answers from Clarksville on

offer hors devoures (sp?). That way she can refuse w/o feeling pressured and everyone else can eat f they are feeling peckish. I would try not to make a big deal about it as well. Just place them on a tanle where you will be gathering and dont even mention it. They will realize that they are there on their own and dont try to offer her any. I know this might sound weird but thats what i think you should do if you want to still have food..then everyone will be happy.

Also i have a friend who doesnt like to eat around people she doesnt know very well. She was skinnny but she would eat when we were alone maybe that is what this woman has...shes 'food shy' as she used to call it.



answers from Seattle on

I agree with Michelle. Just have a number of snack foods out storebought - or even homemade. If you want to be extra sensitive, maybe set the snack table up in the kitchen, while you entertain in the living - so whoever gets hungry can grab something.
Good luck!



answers from Cleveland on

If you are having them over for a visit in the afternoon (beween lunch & dinner) I would offer snack stuff. Chips w/ dip, fresh veg and/or fruit w/ dip, peanuts, pretzels, cheese & crackers & something to drink (beer, pop, tea and/or water). I don't feel comfertable having people over without having something even if small set-up. I ususally set it up in the dinning room or kitchen & entertain in the livingroom. If they are hungry they can move into the other room & snack.

It does take a little effort for me to cut up the cheese, fruit & veg (but that is because I buy the cheeper not cut up stuff, but you can get it pre-cut if you want to or even the pre-made trays.

We do have a family member that comes for holidays & she is anorexic. It is hard watching her interreact with her daughter (who is a size 5) and 2 grandkids. She will only eat 3 pc of cheese, a roll & catsup - even for Thanksgiving & Christmas dinner... and she loves to make comments about how much my kids eat and how much they weigh (they are only 2 - 32#, 4 - 35# & 5 - 46#). But in her eyes they are over wieght... her daughter can't believe everything my kids will eat - not the amount they eat, but what they are willing to eat and try. She always asks me how we got them to eat so many things... I always tell her, because they see us eating so many things. Her kids eat mainly what grandma does - which is why I'm saddened by her interreation with the little ones. I know she loves them, but she has already passed on her weight concerns to her dauhter - now she is working on the grandkids (mainly the granddaughter).

Please don't alter what you would normaly do for your company because of this woman... she needs to realize she is in the real world & most people do eat even if she doesn't. Sorry, I know it is a condition that is hard to overcome, but I wouldn't punish others because you are afraid of offeneding her.


answers from Chicago on

I agree...snacks! It's an afternoon so fruit, veggies, perhaps sushi if anyone likes sushi, snack crackers, etc. could possibly make her comfortable. They are also things that don't give off an aroma like hot appetizers or hot food. Maybe add some San Pellegrino sparkling mineral water and lime???

Good luck!
Report back and let us know how it goes!



answers from Indianapolis on

I agree with Michelle. This woman may feel that you've gone out of your way if you make homemade items. You could do a veggie, meat or fruit tray and just keep them in the kitchen while you are in the livingroom. Just say that if anyone gets hungry you left some snacks out and just leave it as that.



answers from Washington DC on

It shouldn't hurt anything to offer her water. perhaps buy some sandwich fixings and have them in the fridge on the of chance that people do want something to eat. Otherwise, I would just keep it light. Maybe some grapes sitting on the counter, a light cheese platter...stuff like that.




answers from Sacramento on

I would just not bake or cook anything, but have some store bought items there for the others to eat. You can't expect everyone to go without food just because she won't eat. I had an anorexic roommate back in college and learned that you can't tailor everything to that person's preferences because you're the ones leading a normal life. You can be sensitive and not beg them to eat, but you can't expect others around them not to eat.

By having store bought items, you're showing that you didn't make anything special or go out of your way, so you're respecting her wishes.



answers from Chicago on

How about instead of having her at your home, you guys get out and do something? Walk the mall, go roller-skating, bowling...something active. That way, she feels good getting exercise but if the guys need to eat (or you), there is something there for you to stop and get? Alternatively, you guys can hang at your house but you could play games/ cards...something active. Make some tea/ pot of coffee and let that be enough or maybe even beer and iced tea. Keep it simple. Try not to stress about it. Take her social cue and let that be your off the hook pressure of having to be hospitable. We, as a nation, usually socialize around food and it's not helping our waistlines. Getting back to the basics can be fun. That being said, I am sorry to hear that she struggles with anorexia...that is definitely taking things too far. I hope this helps and that you guys have a good time.


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