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

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Does anyone have the experience of sending their child with AN away to boarding school when they were not fully recovered? So well enough that they could attend school and receive support from the boarding house staff/nurses, but still troubled by ED thoughts? Wondering how support/care was managed and if in hindsight you thought you should have done something else.

D fell down the rabbit hole of AN at age 11 after difficulty swallowing followed by rapid weight loss. Progressing well through recovery, but still climbing our way out of the hole.
I would not do it.  The general rule of thumb my treatment team provided is that they should be FULLY weight restored, and in good mental health, for at least 6 months before they spend any significant time away from home.  The risk of relapse is seriously high.  It was a great fear of mine in sending my daughter to college.  We insisted that she be in good health (she was) with an excellent relapse prevention plan in place with her therapist.  It still scared me silly to be honest.  There have been stories here over the years of relapses during college years....I can imagine the risk would be similar, if not higher, with younger patients at a boarding school.  My daughter has done well, but it was a long process getting to that point.  She had been in complete recovery for a full year+ before going to college.
D, age 18, first diagnosed March 20, 2013, RAN, at age 13 Hospitalized 3 weeks for medical stability. FBT at home since.  UCSD Multi-family Intensive June 2015. We've arrived on the other side.  :-)  D at college and doing great!
I do not know anybody that has send his still sick child to a boarding school, college or university and it went well. In most cases the ED took over again very soon and the parents needed to take her home and start at square1. I would not do that.
Most professionals suggest that they should be without any symptoms and able to feed themselves for at least 6 months, better 12. We have send our d to university 1 year after WR but asked her to keep living at home and use public transport and chose a university that is near. That works well.
Recovery from ED takes years. All changes in routine and schedule are a big relapse risk.
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
I agree with mnmom and VG.  Dragging someone back to health from AN is a full time job, and boarding school will not be staffed for that.  I would also worry about the effect on her roommates so I think it would be important to make the school aware of her health situation so they could try to minimize difficulties for her roommates. xx

"We are angels of hope, of healing, and of light. Darkness flees from us." -YP 
I’m going to be that annoying voice, agreeing with everyone else. My D is 2 years in and doing well. She has another year before university and we are undecided as to if she will be going there as it will mean her having to take care of herself fully. She still needs support to make good decisions in terms of her own wellbeing as she inadvertently ‘slips’ on occasions. With the best will in the world the staff care but not in the same way as us carers who would not miss a trick....they don’t have the same caring connection despite their best intentions
I agree that it is a recipe for things to go wrong. 
I do recall that there was one Australian parent, who lived in remote Australia who ended up supporting her D at boarding school in Sydney, I can't remember the name. I also know that Charlotte_UK (who passed away some years ago) successfully sent her mostly recovered D to boarding school, with regular visits and good supports. My D's school was also a boarding school (she was a day girl) and they were able to offer limited support - the nurse could weigh regularly for example and they could provide feedback, limit access to sports etc.. They also at times had to call parents to come and get their child as behaviours were just getting out of control. Boarding schools tend to have strict rules but individual support is pretty light on. 
D diagnosed restrictive AN June 2010 age 13. Initially weight restored 2012. Relapse and continuously edging towards recovery. Treatment: multiple hospitalisations and individual and family therapy.
Dear Barberton, I would not send your D to boarding school. We sent my D away to college with some support. It was a very bad decision that nearly cost her her life, and the repercussions from that time away we are still dealing with. Our d needed to come home from college in the middle of a semester due to a suicide attempt. We never saw it coming, neither did her therapist who was seeing her regularly at this time. Our D developed a purging habit in college that we still cannot break. Don't send your D away to boarding school, even if she has supports. No one can support your daughter as well as you can, because you love her. She will not get better in boarding school and may get very much worse. Keep her home.

Our D developed a habit of purging and drinking to excess, and using drugs, which we are still dealing with today 3 years later. Being away at college was horrible for our D (she couldn't cope) but she never complained until she was at the very end of her rope and even then it was such a tiny complaint we didn't take it as seriously as we should have. We nearly lost her and I thank God that we have this second chance with her, with supporting her to recovery, which is excruciatingly slow to come.

I don't know if you think the way my h and I thought, that being away from home might somehow be good for your D. Our thoughts when preparing to send our D to college were:
  • The change of scenery will do her good.
  • Being around people her age will be a good thing - she'll develop a social life for herself, friends, she won't be bored, and that will push her to recovery. 
  • It makes sense that her ED grew at home, where she is alone and isolated a lot. In an environment with other young people she will be too busy to invest in the ED.
  • She will be around other healthy people her age and their habits will rub off on her.
  • She will become engrossed in her studies now that she is finally able to study exactly the subjects she wants.
All of these thoughts were wrong and misguided for us to have about our D's ability to recover away from home and effective ED treatment. These thoughts came from a lack of confidence in ourselves as her caregivers. We were wrong to dismiss the power that our love could have for pushing our beloved D to recovery. No one can support your D better than you can, no matter how bad you may feel from time to time.

I wish you all the best. Keep coming back to this forum for advice and support. XO



Thank you to everyone who responded and in particular, Francie. I anticipated the advice that was given, but was just holding out a glimmer of hope that someone has managed what I call "Remote Recovery".

As everyone here knows, it is difficult to find the balance between your child's needs and the needs of the rest of the family. Thanks again.

D fell down the rabbit hole of AN at age 11 after difficulty swallowing followed by rapid weight loss. Progressing well through recovery, but still climbing our way out of the hole.