Ask Amy: Daughter worries about dad's unhealthy eating

Dear Amy: I’m a 16-year-old girl. I’m worried about my dad. I think he may have an eating disorder. He eats very little, often just an apple for dinner, logs his calories and often does high-intensity workouts. He’s worried about gaining weight and sometimes tries to restrict our pets’ food, too — though they’re healthy.

My mom has a healthy enough relationship with food, though she has felt pressure over the years as my dad engages in disordered eating. My younger sister and I are slowly realizing just how much this is harmful, and sometimes I’ve caught myself with an unhealthy preoccupation with my weight, too.

What do I do? I want to talk to my dad about this, but I have no idea how to do it. He’s very stubborn and focused, so getting him to change wouldn’t be the easiest thing to do. If my behavior with food becomes a problem, I’ll tell my doctor and try to get help.

Amy says: It is not your job to police your father. Realistically, aside from registering your concern to him and your mother, there is little you can practically do to get him to change.

Eating disorders are linked to addictive behaviors — the person with the disorder becomes addicted to feeling a certain way and obsessively clings to the feeling of control that comes from limiting food.

One concern is how this disordered eating is creeping into the rest of your household. If your father is truly limiting the pets’ food, then the pets should be placed in a safer environment. Unlike people, animals cannot always fend for themselves.

You should speak with both of your parents about this, not offering solutions but simply being honest about your concern. Start with this: “Dad, I’m worried about you.”

Coffee clash

Dear Amy: I’m sitting in a coffee shop next to a woman who has been on her cellphone, talking loudly and showing no respect for my privacy. I came in here to read and not be disrupted by someone invading my space.

Whose right is it? What should be done?

Amy says: The person making the call isn’t respecting her own privacy.

I have had readers say that they have written down overheard conversations and presented the transcript to the cell-talker.

Some places have rules about cellphone use — if this place does, you should ask the manager to intervene. Otherwise, I think it’s acceptable to interrupt and ask the person, “Could you lower your voice, please? We can all hear you.”

Slacker or depressed?

Dear Amy: I strongly disagree with your advice that a letter writer tell his 20-year-old daughter to move out.

She sounds depressed. Divorced family, messy room, mom doesn’t want her and, although she sounds justifiably annoying, her dad doesn’t want her, either.

All of this combined with her age and the stress of trying to manage her first job requires gentle support, not confrontation.

I would suggest therapy for both to see if they can work it out before he does something that might have a lasting impact on their relationship.

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