Dear Amy: “Charlotte,” my dear friend of many years, looks more like a string bean than a human being because she has been purging. She has recently overcome addictions to smoking and alcohol. She has a distorted image of her figure and exercises to extreme in order to maintain that appearance.

I realize that she needs to convince herself to turn the tide and take action in order to tackle this latest problem, and I’ve let her know that she’s at a great risk of increased illness if she stays so thin.

She has yet to seek professional advice. I’m wondering if it would work if I got some trusted family members and close friends together in order to confront her and speak some wisdom to her?


Amy says: According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (, many studies show that alcoholism and eating disorders frequently “co-occur,” but no definitive link has been identified. All of this is to say that your friend’s other addictions are likely related to her bulimia, that this is complicated and that she needs professional help. Interventions seem easy, but are best led by professionals who can deliver constructive and concrete ideas, as well as the inspiration and incentive to seek treatment.

By all means, share your concerns with your friend: “You’ve been through so much lately. I’m worried because you’ve gotten so thin. Are you seeing a therapist?” Offer to help her find one. And also continue to accept her as she is. She has a serious illness.

The National Eating Disorders Association offers a “find treatment” tool (, as well as a help line: 1-800-931-2237.

Unclear on ‘potluck’ concept

Dear Amy: I attend a professional networking potluck lunch every week.

Most of us bring a substantial main or side dish to share. Occasionally, attendees bring nothing or, as recently happened, a group of four co-workers brought a small box of chocolates. We are not at risk of running out of food, so it seems petty to quibble about someone’s contributions. What is a polite but clear message?


Amy says: If the group is not at risk of running out of food, then generously share. You can assume that people occasionally simply forget about the meeting, or when they left the house, they didn’t think they could make the meeting.

If the same people continue to neglect to bring food, then before you start the next meeting, your leader(s) can say, “We’re here to network and communicate; that’s the most important thing. But we’re also here during lunch. One way for us to eat is to rotate the task of bringing main and side dishes. Or we can each just bring our own lunch and not worry about shared dishes. Can we get a consensus on how to handle this?”


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