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Does My Girlfriend have an eating disorder? What should I do?

Hello all,
I am a twenty year old college junior, and I have a girlfriend who is a twenty one year old college junior. We have been dating for a year and a half now, and have known each other since we met our freshman year in the dorms. My girlfriend was a gymnast for 7 or so years, stopped her senior year of high school, and has always been in pretty good shape. She has a very strict diet and exercise regime, and for no real reason, as she’s in phenomenal shape and no longer does gymnastics. She wakes up every day at 4am, no matter what, and works out for 2 hours, only doing abs and cardio. On nice days, after classes, she will then go on an hour run. She measures every single thing she eats to the serving, from sugar free dressing, to how many ounces of chicken she’s eating. She keeps detailed calorie charts and exercise journals, and after seeing these charts, found out she eats only 650-1250 calories a day, never exceeding that amount. Everything she purchases is sugar free, fake, or has chemical sweetener.
Now none of this bothered me really until her personality started to change from how it was her freshman year. Because we lived in dorms, she could not work out until 6am, and because we lived off meal points, she had to eat what the university had, plus she was around other girls who ate normal. Thus she was rarely tired, always very bubbly, and still looked great. Now after two years of living in an apartment, she can eat the way she wants, and go to the gym much earlier. Thus she’s always exhausted, moving slow, and no longer bubbly. I love this girl, with all my heart. So I have motioned a couple of times that she should eat more, and maybe go to the gym a little later, but she gets extremely defensive, and basically tells me that if I don’t like the way she is then maybe I don’t really love her. This of course isn’t true, but I am genuinely worried for her. She has told me she feels she doesn’t see herself the way everyone else sees her, and that she has to eat and work out like this for me to like her. In the dorms, she was 5’2 and 135-140 pounds; she had a flat stomach, looked great, etc. Now she weighs around 108, and still eats and works out the way she does, continuing to make more goals. She now hides her calorie charts and workout magazines from me, because I “lecture” her on how she going down a slippery slope. She’s also the sweetest girl in the world, but I have noticed lately that she has been putting people down because of their weight or how they look (and most of the time these people are hardly out of shape). This is something she never used to do, and I think she does it to as a defense mechanism, and to make herself feel thinner, it’s also weird for me when she does it because I am a bigger guy at 6 feet and 200 pounds, so she must think this about me as well, or because I’m her boyfriend, ignores it. I have thought about discussing her situation with her mother, but I’m not sure if it would help. My girlfriend blames her gymnastics, and says that this is how they trained her to be.
So is this the early stages of an eating disorder? How can I try to discuss this with her without her biting my head off and getting very defensive? I would love to take her to a counselor or therapist, I would go with her even, but I feel she is so stubborn that she will either refuse to go and get mad, or just go to appease me and ignore the therapist. Please help, I really do love this girl, and it hurts my heart to see her like this. I tell her everyday how beautiful she is, and I’ve told her I would love her no matter what her weight was. But it doesn’t work.
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replied October 31st, 2011
It sounds to me like your girlfriend has a problem with food and her relationship to it - if it is controlling and affecting her life.
I understand that you care for her and want to help her, but in reality you can't. She will get help when life is bad enough for her ( I say this as someone who is a compulsive overeater and lived with my fiancee for 3 years of binging, and restricting - he tried everything, bless his soul, but in the end it came from me. I needed help and I asked for it.).
Look after yourself, are you happy, is your life fulfilled, what can you do for yourself today? Don't offer her advice unless she asks, don't lecture her and don't enable her (including driving/collecting her to exercise, not eating yourself because she doesn't want you to, or letting her buy food for you which you don't want).
Inform yourself of local solutions to eating disorders in case the time comes when she does need help (ie.local eating disorder specialists, treatment centres, overeaters annomyous, eating disorders annomyous etc)
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