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Annie's Mailbox

Getting help for his eating disorder

June 22, 2011

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Q. I am a 20-year-old male who recently developed an eating disorder. I’ve lost almost 50 pounds from restricting, purging, and over-exercising. Even though I get a lot of compliments on my weight loss, I am nowhere near where I’d like to be. When I do eat, my mother makes comments on how I’m going to gain the weight back. Even my doctor thinks I should lose a bit more.

Honestly, I’m at my limit here. I’m afraid to stop purging because I’ll just binge and put the weight back on. I realize I have a distorted body image and recently started causing external harm to my body because I’m not happy with what I see. How can I be satisfied and not end up seriously hurt?

E.D.

A. The binge-and-purge cycle of eating disorders is extremely harmful to the body. It can cause dehydration, fatigue, ulcers, tooth decay, ruptured stomach, swelling, a weakened heart muscle, and more. We understand the pressure you are under to maintain the weight you have lost, and you are smart to recognize that this is not a healthy way to do it. Please don’t keep your eating disorder a secret. Contact the National Eating Disorders Association (www.nationaleatingdisorders.org) at 800-931-2237 and ask for assistance.

Q. A few weeks ago, my husband and I moved into a lovely apartment in a quiet neighborhood. Shortly after, an older next-door neighbor knocked on our door with a homemade pie and introduced herself. Naturally, we were pleased at her kindness and invited her in to visit.

Since then, however, “Doris’’ has been knocking on our door at all hours of the day with food or “just to chat.’’ My husband and I both work and do not have a lot of time to ourselves. Doris is apparently home all day, because the minute she hears or sees one of us, she pops in. When she does this at dinner, we feel obligated to invite her to join us. She also has been very inquisitive about our personal lives, asking questions even our relatives would not dream of asking.

We realize Doris is lonely, but we need to put a stop to this. My husband is so convinced we’ve opened a can of worms that he now refuses to talk to any of our other neighbors for fear the same thing will happen. How can we discourage Doris’s visits and still remain on good terms?

PERPLEXED

A. No one can take advantage of you without your permission. Don’t be afraid to say, “I’m so sorry, Doris, but this isn’t a good time to visit. Maybe tomorrow.’’ And then close the door. Be polite and friendly, but don’t let her inside, even if she tries to bribe you with a homemade pie. But we hope you won’t shut her out completely. She is desperate for company, and you might visit on occasion and encourage her to participate in community activities. In the meantime, it’s OK to set boundaries and be firm about them.

Q. I had to reply to “Michigan,’’ who is afraid she will not be close to her two sons after they marry.

I have one son. If “Michigan’’ treats her daughters-in-law as she does her sons, she will have no problem. My daughter-in-law is the daughter I never had. She has a mother and a sister, but we two are as close as can be. We do things together (just the two of us) and enjoy each other’s company. I wouldn’t trade my daughter-in-law for anything. I love her as my own.

LUCKY MOTHER-IN-LAW

E-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 West Century Blvd., Suite 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045.