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Ask Lisi: Talk to daughter and pediatrician about her eating disorder

If she’s hiding her issues with food, she should probably talk to a therapist, too.
Lisi Tesher, for Ask Ellie column

Dear Lisi: My teenage daughter is smart but has an eating disorder. I say it like that because she knows exactly how much to eat in front of us, and how much she needs to weigh at the bare minimum, so it doesn’t appear that she has a problem. But I know her better than that.

She eats some fruit and yogurt for breakfast; takes a full lunch bag to school and brings it home empty; and eats dinner with us. But I just know she’s not ingesting all those calories. It’s also hard to tell by the way her clothes fit because she’s either wearing hugely oversized sweatpants and sweatshirts, or teeny tiny halter tops and lowrise jeans.

She looks exactly like all her friends, and I haven’t heard any of the other moms discussing their daughters and whether they have an issue.

Do you suggest I talk to my daughter? The other moms? Her pediatrician? Or a therapist? I don’t know what to do and I’m worried.

Skinny Daughter

I completely understand your worry…. And probably some of what your daughter is thinking. I also faked eating for a while years ago, and I was also very, very skinny, hiding under my baggy hoodies.

Yes, I suggest you talk to your daughter and together speak with her pediatrician. Depending on how old she is, she may want to speak with her doctor privately, but you can have a healthy conversation about where she is at physically, where she needs to be, and what damage she can cause to her body by not maintaining a healthy weight and eating habits.

Together, the three of you can determine whether your daughter would benefit from speaking with a therapist (who wouldn’t, really?). And finally, I don’t think you need to speak to the other moms unless you feel that they could help you, for example, if your daughter spends a lot of time at one of her friend’s homes, the mom could be your eyes over there; and that they can be trusted.

I wish your daughter health and happiness ahead.

Dear Lisi: Why are women so bitchy to each other? Shouldn’t we be each other’s best advocates? Don’t we have enough on our plates to worry about whether or not our colleagues and compatriots have our back?

Daily Disgust

Hmmmm. Sounds to me like there is more to this story than you have opted to share. I find it interesting that you ask why women are bitchy, because if a man was rude to you, or bitchy, you may still complain (and rightly so), but not in the same way. I guess, putting gender issues aside (because I’m not dismissing anyone who is non-binary, gender-fluid, etc.), people feel that those who are similar should protect and defend their “own.”

I get it. Life isn’t easy. We have our families to contend with, our partners, our work colleagues, and any number of administrative battles involved in “adulting.” Life can be exhausting. That’s why we lean on our friends — the people we’ve chosen to have in our corner. The people who believe in us, cherish us, lift us up when we feel down.

So, I can’t answer you why, generally speaking, women can pull out the claws when dealing with each other. But I can help you react. Instead of fighting back, which is our natural instinct, try to diffuse. Don’t let whatever is turning this woman angry and embittered affect you. Respond with kindness — or simply, walk away.

FEEDBACK Regarding the couple disgusted with their long-nailed server (May 14):

Reader #1– “As a retired Infection Control Practitioner (ICP) and nurse, I suggest the couple concerned about their server’s inappropriate false nails contact the local Public Health department. Food handling protocols include proper handwashing techniques. With the nails described, effective hand hygiene isn’t achievable. Restaurants are subject to Public Health inspections and ratings.”

Reader #2 - “I’m so glad a reader brought up the issue of stupidly long, overdecorated fingernails. I went to the bank and was served by a teller whose nails were super long, curved, with three-dimensional decorative fake gems plastered on top. It was ridiculous. She had to call the manager and she could not properly key in the number on the phone keypad. It was so unprofessional!

“Most workplaces have dress codes. They’re going to need fingernail decoration codes, too. Hyper-decorated nail madness must end now!”

Lisi Tesher is an advice columnist based in Toronto. Send your relationship questions to [email protected].