Questions Not to Ask Someone With an Eating Disorder: Did You Gain Weight?

It was a bad week.  A bad, bad, bad, bad week.  All things considered, my eating really wasn't that bad.  At least, it wasn't bad, bad, bad, bad eating.  I actually managed to probably eat more than usual.

Combine the out-of-the-ordinary eating with the bad, bad, bad, bad week, and I'm just proud I got through it without imploding.

So what do you not do after something like this?

You don't ask me, apropos of nothing, probably not even thinking of the change of eating or the tough week, "Did you gain weight?"

You don't ask that of an eating disorder patient, period.

You don't ask that unless you're a doctor, a counselor, or a nutritionist.

You don't ask that in the manner you'd ask an alcoholic, "Did you go to AA?" or the manner you'd ask someone with borderline personality disorder, "Did you sign up for the DBT group cycle that starts next week?"

First of all, I don't know if I gained weight.  I haven't weighed myself in about a week and a half or two weeks now.  The last time I weighed myself, it was the lowest weight I've seen since 2003, and it was officially anorexic.

At this point, I know my struggle well enough to know that if I weigh myself around now, no matter what the number, I'll take it the wrong way.  If my weight's the same, I'm relieved but also ashamed.  If my weight is down, I'm ashamed but also have a little frisson of accomplishment.  If my weight's up, I'm ashamed but also proud but also panicked.

You don't ask an eating disorder patient, in the manner of checking whether an assignment was completed, "Did you gain weight?"

It doesn't work like that.

I gain weight -- and keep it on -- when I start to feel emotionally safe doing so.

I start to feel emotionally safe keeping on weight when food and body and weight stop taking the places of things I'm really trying to say or do or feel or figure out.

Food, etc., stop usurping the places of real experiences and challenges when I feel allowed to figure out what those experiences and challenges are, and conquer them head on or enjoy them for themselves.

I don't gain weight in a week and keep it on and then everything's okay because I gained some weight.  That's not how it works.  Don't ask me that.  Don't ask anyone with an eating disorder that.

Ask how I'm feeling.  Ask what I'm thinking.  Give me time to figure out the answers, and if you're going to ask, listen to me -- really listen to me -- when I give you answers.

That's how it works, no matter who you are to me, no matter who I am to you, if I am someone with an eating disorer.


  1. Would you like a skewer? Got some. Willing to share.

  2. i love you. i hear "have you lost weight?" all the time and it gets my mind going in a million dark directions.
    so anyway. . . waiting for you in ali and sheila land. this is a land of duck breast, cheesecake, monterreys mexican food, hello kitty, a library like the beast's in beauty and the beast, 2 dogs and ur kitteh, plus some rabbits/rats/guinea pigs, body positive feminist media ONLY, and lots of hugs and handholding!
    miss you.

  3. Some people are downright rude but again, maybe he is not aware that his question is mean to you. So does this means to us, be very sensitive to someone's issue. Questions like that are not being asked in
    bulimia treatment center and ED sufferers are not get used to that question for sure.


Get rude, get deleted.