Ask Sam letter


To Sam

My best friend's eating

My best friend never eats/barely eats anything at school. I'm really worried about her, she's naturally skinny and very good at sport I'm scared to ask her about it. I know on her right wrist she has a bandage on but she says she ha 'accidentally' cut herself helping make dinner at home. When she gets food at school it's mostly fruit pots or a small salad box at school, me and our other friends offer her food but her excuse for not eating is forgetting her money but her step brother says that she puts it back in the money jar that her mum and step dad use. When she comes to my house for dinner she eats all of the food on her plate and gets dessert, when she's at home she doesn't eat with her family and eats every little. Normally she gives the vegetables to her pet rabbit and the other pieces of food to her dogs (she has 2 dogs).

What should I do to help her or how do I talk to her about her eating?

Ask Sam


Hi there,

It can be difficult to know how best to help someone who has a problem they won't admit they have. Often it takes people time to be ready to make a change and there's no real way to force someone into that. It can be hard to see people we care about suffer through difficult times, but there's only so much we can do to help. Being there for them is often enough, even if you don't feel like it is.

Eating problems can be very complex. They can be difficult for people to understand if they haven't experienced them themselves. It can be tempting to think the solution is for them to just eat more, but it's not that simple. There are often other things going on that are affecting the way someone behaves, which they may need professional help to deal with.

When you're supporting someone close to you, it's important to recognise that we can only do so much. We are not their doctor or therapist - we are their friend or relative. Try to think about what it means to be there for someone as a friend as opposed to being there as a professional. One of the main differences is that you're there because you care about your friend personally.

Your friend doesn't sound like she's ready to make a big change just yet. But it would be okay to let her know that you've noticed things aren't quite right and you're there if she ever needs you, or wants to talk. A simple gesture like this can be enough to make someone feel as though they can open up to you. If they do open up, it's important to be prepared for that yourself. You can't look after your friend if you're not looking after yourself first.

If you wanted to read more about eating problems, we have some good information on our website. You may also find Beat and Young Minds useful too.

Thanks for your letter. I hope this has helped.



Need help straight away?

You can talk privately to a counsellor online or call 0800 1111 for free.

Ask me a question

You can ask me about anything you want, there's nothing too big or small. I read every single letter but I can only answer a few each week. My replies are published here on my page.

Write me a letter