Tough Stuff

Think you've got an eating disorder? Help is on the way

I am a 15-year-old girl, I play volleyball and I weigh about 97 lbs. Lately, I have been feeling really fat. I am not comfortable in my bod. I feel like I might be developing an eating disorder. What should I do? I don’t want to tell anyone.


It’s natural for tweens and teens to feel uncomfortable in their changing bodies. And we’re sorry to say that for most of us, it’s normal to dislike parts of our bods from time to time. But when you let these toxic thoughts get out of control, they can do serious damage. Whether you think you’re slipping down the disordered-eating spiral or have a full-blown eating disorder, GL is here with 12 dos and don’ts to help you get back to being healthy.


Do talk it out. I know it’s awkward and hard to talk about, but eating disorders have a frightening way of rooting themselves in your mind. Your parents or a trusted adult mentor can help you find the professional help you need.


Don’t be afraid to get help. Conquering an eating disorder isn’t as easy as eating three full meals every day. The way you view your body and the things you put into it are hard to change. Meeting with a pro is a hugely helpful way to get your brain back on track.


Do train with a pro. If you want to revamp your body image, exercise is a great way to do it. But you have to be careful not to go overboard, especially when your body is recovering from disordered eating habits. Working with a professional to develop an exercise plan will help keep you toned without overtaxing your bod. Yoga is a great activity to consider because it encourages a positive outlook for your mind and body, and can keep you fit without working your body too hard.


Don’t hide it. Wearing baggy clothing or sneaking off to purge might seem like easy ways to keep your eating disorder a secret. These behaviors do far more harm than good, though, so back away, babe, and be honest with those who love you and yourself.


Do focus on feeding your body. Many girls develop an eating disorder because they need some sort of control over their lives. Visiting a nutritionist to figure out exactly what your body needs to function—and then following her advice—can help you gain control of your body in a healthy way.


Don’t pull away. When you’re struggling to regain healthy habits, it’s tough listening to your friends ask you how you’re doing or your parents inquiring about your daily diet. But don’t use their lack of understanding or tact as a reason to pull away from them. You need support. Explain how you’re feeling and how they can help you best.


Do snack. If the idea of eating three large meals a day is off-putting, try consuming smaller meals with snacks scattered throughout the day. Think celery and peanut butter, apples, Greek yogurt smoothies, almonds and cheese and crackers.


Don’t think of food as the enemy. It’s not! Splurges are okay, sweetie, so don’t feel guilty about munching on those homemade treats your bud bakes or an extra helping of fresh strawberries ‘n’ whipped cream. Resist the urge to purge and savor the delicious things you consumer. Remember: Your body needs food to keep you doing what you love. Food is a good—make that great—thing.


Do seek out healthy friends. If your group of girlies is focused on looks 24/7, it’s a fab idea to expand your horizons with some new buds. Surround yourself with chicas who are positive about themselves and the world you live in, and you’ll feel yourself adopting their mindset. Girl power!


Don’t lie. It’s tempting to tell a friend or family member what you think they want to hear, but plastering on a smile and pretending that life is just peachy won’t help you get better. If you’re feeling uncomfortable with a convo, simply say, “I really appreciate your concern, but I’d rather not talk about it.”


Do look for a new emotional outlet. Take time to think about why and how disordered eating became a habit. Perhaps your parents are going through a divorce, or school is getting super stressful. Whatever the reason is, try to channel your emotions in a healthy way. Take up painting or ceramics or drawing. Write music or plays. Start keeping a diary. Do what makes you feel happy.


Don’t go through it alone. There are tons of hotlines and support groups out there that will allow you to remain anonymous if you so choose. Getting advice from someone who’s walked in your shoes can help you feel less isolated. They can also give you good advice about dealing with concerned friends and fam, and dealing with your disorder.


For starters, you can call the National Eating Disorder Helpline toll-free at 1-800-931-2237 or visit their website for more information about treatment options at

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by Brittany Taylor | 2/1/2016