F.E.A.S.T's Around The Dinner Table forum

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Anorexia came to our 13 yr old D June last year due I believe to genetics (she always had a degree of physical difficulty eating due to gastric reflux), secondary school, learning difficulties, puberty...and sadly a home life which was not always great thanks to me an angst ridden stress head Dad.  Anyway 9 months on our D is doing far better now, fully WR but I or my wife have to be with her for all meals.  She takes her mid morning snack solo at school, but I meet her for every lunch, and we are religious about breakfast and dinner and evening snack.  She reminds us and sticks to the structure too, which is positive as after an initial struggle she bought into the NHS recommended programme meal plan.  We see CAMHS once a month.  Life is good but I worry when to move to stage 2.  Anorexia sprang hard and fast June 2018 and 5 months IP with phased return home and Eva Musby home care since has put us in a better place.  She is far happier albeit on Prozac for anxiety just in case.  I do wonder though when we can trust her to eat normally and well without us. On the other hand I am prepared to stick to the current support regime for as long as it takes even if that is years to go!   This post is to share our experience but also to wonder if anyone can advise on how to evolve her self care more sustainably to her without needing our constant support.  Thanks for any ideas or suggestions.
Firstly, welcome and congratulations on the progress you have made.

Secondly, you are wise to question when to step back the support you have in place.  This is a decision that you as parents will need to make on your own, as you know her best.  That said, with the clear vision that hindsight gives us, I can recommend keeping up that support as long as possible.  In my experience, it is very difficult to take back control of a situation you have let go.  And fighting ED is a very long game. 

You will know she is ready when she starts eating because she is hungry, and she takes a lolly just because it's there.  Or she tries a food she hasn't eaten in ages.  You might see her mood lifted consistently.  

Lunches at school are difficult, and those were the first to go for us.  We made sure to pack things we were confident our d could eat on her own.  Also, we ensured the rest of the day's intake was substantial.  You could start thinking ahead if you like.  Make lunch her easiest meal, 'safe' and predictable.  When you do start stepping back, you could make it a gradual, organic-seeming thing.  Maybe start with an 'appointment' you have one day. Or Wednesdays because you have something to do on Wednesdays.  You could explain that you would have to step back in if she loses weight, and keep the changes very gradual. Maybe have her face time you, so you could watch from afar.

You really are doing great.  Just keep going.

D in and out of EDNOS since age 8. dx RAN 2013. WR Aug '14. Graduated FBT June 2015 at 18 yrs old. [thumb]
Hi SupermanR and welcome,

There is no one right way to proceed. It can depend on how available the parents can be. I can tell you that my son is 3.5 years down the line and we still eat breakfast together, I pack his morning snack and lunch, and we eat the remaining snacks and meals together. Kartini Clinic recommends that parents remain in charge until the gradual handover of responsibility in preparation for leaving home.Personally, I think this is one of the reasons that children with an early presentation seem to have better recovery rates - they are under our beady eyes for much longer.

This is a favourite thread on the subject here on the forum.

And hey, don't be too hard on yourself. Anxious, stress head behaviours are quite significantly genetic and our kids come by these traits honestly. If you can afford it some therapy to learn ways of managing is a wonderful example to give your child. If funds are tight there are many sources of information in the library or online.

Please ask any questions you have and once again, welcome.

Warm wishes,

2015 12yo son restricting but no body image issues, no fat phobia; lost weight IP! Oct 2015 home, no progress. Medical hosp to kick start recovery Feb 2016. Slowly gaining at home, seeing signs of our real kid.

May 2017 Hovering around WR. Mood great, mostly. Summer 2017 Happy, first trip away in years, food variety, begin socialising. Sept 2017, back to school FT first time in 2 years. 2018 growing so fast hard to keep pace with weight. 2020 Off to university, healthy and happy.
  • Swedish proverb: Love me when I least deserve it because that's when I need it most.
  • We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence Recovery, then, is not an act but a habit. Aristotle.
  • If the plan doesn't work, change the plan but never the goal.
  • We cannot control the wind but we can direct the sail.
Hey SupermanR,
a very warm welcome from Germany and you ARE a superman and not an anxious stress head dad, it is this horrible disease that makes us all going crazy and you have done an very good job up to now.
As the others wrote, there is no ONE right plan to do it and you will know when she is ready.
What I can tell you is that I do not know ONE parent that started phase 2 too late but I know a lot of parents (my hands up) that started phase 2 too early. You are still in early days. It is no need to hurry at age 13. She can learn all that in the next years. But it is hard for them to go back to phase 1 when you realise it was too early.
We are 2 years in recovery and my d still eats breakfast, lunch and dinner with us. I still plate lunch (which is the big meal here). She eats on her own if it is necessary at University and she can eat the snacks alone now but she prefers to eat with us if possible. It gives her a stress free meal and she feels safe eating with us and that is o.k. (even at age 19).
You will know when she starts to say things like "I am hungry", "this tastes delicious", "can I have a second portion of noodles" and when she snacks things that are standing on the table although it is no snack time. You may now think this will never happen but I dare to promise you it will.
Give her the time that she needs. The better she is used to the routine and the better brain recovery is in progress the less risk for a relapse.
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

Hi SupermanR,

I agree with all the advice you have received so far. I echo that it may be a bit early to give her much autonomy. It is really early in the process at 9 months. 
I think baby steps here, can be helpful. Giving her comfortable foods to eat on her own allows for success, and I see everyone above said the same thing. 
The stage 1-2 is a dance.I don't even think of it as stages. I think the goal is free eating and eating well and I keep the reins on, tight sometimes and looser at other times.  My D is over one year post WR and I still have most control, I think. She does know what a good snack and meal are. I pack all lunches and she has choices on lunch on the weekends, but I get to veto the choice if feel it is not appropriate.  

It takes a long time. I think it is great that she reminds YOU that it is time to eat!That may mean she is hungry for it too! My D could not admit hunger but she was ready and willing to eat at her meal times- so I think she was hungry at those times.
You have done really well! 
You are a great and supportive and proactive Dad. Look where you have been and where you are now in terms of her ED! She could not have done this without YOU!
Glad that you are here!
All the best. 

When within yourself you find the road, the right road will open.  (Dejan Stojanovic)

Food+more food+time+love+good professional help+ATDT+no exercise+ state not just weight+/- the "right" medicine= healing---> recovery(--->life without ED)
Dear All thanks so very much for your wise and comforting advice.  I am blessed to work near her school so we can meet for lunch, and the added benefit of the wider conversation that affords with her.  We will really take our time and stick with the regime for as long as it takes until she gradually can cycle confidently without us as stabilisers, even if that is in many years time!  Face-timing has helped already when one afternoon my wife and I could not be with her!  The great hope is subconsciously eating will become normal again over time, as she associates it with pleasant chats and family time.  She’s eating ok with friends now which was initially difficult for her.  Post IP is only 4 months so we’ve much to bye grateful for.  In some ways she’s better mentally than before ED hit and whilst it feels like a constant parental worry (which I carefully keep to myself, and I see my own therapist to offload my angst and get tips on modelling self care and resilience to D) much to be grateful for.  I cheer myself ED has changed our family dynamic and priorities (to chat openly about life and how to best navigate its chalkenges, and put good mental health as the most important thing) perhaps we will avoid some other hole we’d otherwise have fallen down.  Thanks so much for the brilliant advice, and my thoughts and prayers to you all to stay strong and look after yourselves as well as you do your children for those who have so bravely fought this ED challenge.  Best wishes and thanks again.
No need to thank for anything, that is why we are here. We have been helped and now we give back.
Listen to your gut and try to be patient. It is a marathon and not a sprint. Brain recovery needs a lot of time. It is great that she is so young.
Have a good weekend!
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
Welcome form me as well, and great job getting her WR! I know this is a long journey and it is a good idea to have some time for self care. 

SupermanR wrote:
She’s eating ok with friends now which was initially difficult for her.  .

That is great and if she continues being able to eat with friends, that might be the first meal you can let her eat without your supervision. My d was nearly WR when I moved her to a different school and she dearly wanted to eat with her friends and not in the school car park with me, so I allowed it. It went fine. Today nearly 2 years post WR, I still plate her main meals and give her her snacks, with some choice allowed for snacks. But she is able to go out with friends and eat with them. 
D became obsessed with exercise at age 9 and started eating 'healthy' at age 9.5. Restricting couple of months later. IP for 2 weeks at age 10. Slowly refed for months on Ensures alone, followed by swap over with food at a snails pace. WR after a year at age 11 in March 2017. View my recipes on my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKLW6A6sDO3ZDq8npNm8_ww