Too Lean in TN
anonymous Asks ...
Would a 45 year old man ever get something like anorexia? My brother was overweight his whole life. Last year he had a health scare and he turned his life around. He quit smoking stopped drinking, gave up red meat etc etc etc. I do not know the numbers but I would say he has lost 70 or more pounds. He used to be very overweight but not obscenely fat. Now he is a very thin person. Not quite ghoulishly thin but barely recognizable as the person he was 2 years ago. Now he is hyper focused on healthy eating. He won’t eat processed foods, non whole grain foods, farmed meat or fish and the list goes on. He seems to subsist mostly on organic yogurt, nuts and fruits and salads. I am worried because he has these rigid food rules that he won’t break, ever and because he is getting so thin that you would think there was something wrong with him, like he has AIDS or something. He went from fat guy to losing weight guy to really healthy looking guy to guy that really looks like he needs a cheeseburger. I have talked to him about my concerns but he has brushed them off. My other siblings are also concerned but no one knows what to do. J.B. in Tenn
Rob Danzman Says ...
We often see clients make big changes and then the family members and friends are caught off-guard. Sometimes those behavioral changes (like starting to use drugs regularly) dramatically change the person in very negative ways. Sometimes, the changes are positive for the person but the family and friends are either not prepared or flat-out disagree with the lifestyle change. Ultimately, the best you and your siblings can do is let him know that you support is healthy lifestyle but also are concerned that it may be too much. It's very appropriate to share your concern. It's also very appropriate for him to have the 'thanks, but no thanks' response. If he FEELS content, if he FEELS good, support him. Make it clear, though, that if he ever starts having concerns about his eating or dietary habits, you will be there for him. There may also be other stuff going on that he has not shared with you. If you push too much, he may not share. If you provide that nurturing, non-judgmental support, he will open-up when he's ready.
In the meantime, don't secretly add extra butter to meals you're making during family events and encourage others to be positive rather than judgmental. Any back-handed ways of trying to control him will likely backfire.
Good luck with this.