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

Welcome to F.E.A.S.T's Around The Dinner Table forum. This is a free service provided for parents of those suffering from eating disorders. It is moderated by kind, experienced, parent caregivers trained to guide you in how to use the forum and how to find resources to help you support your family member. This forum is for parents of patients with all eating disorder diagnoses, all ages, around the world.

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Here's our story.  About 6 weeks ago my 14 year son joined the track team at the encouragement of my husband and I after not making the baseball team.  We thought getting him into a group sport that wasn't extremely competitive and didn't cut kids would be good for him.  He doesn't have any friends.   There are a lot of kids in his grade that participate in track.  He also had a pediatrician appointment around this time where he was weighed at a weight of 124 lbs for 5'8".
As track progressed he became increasingly obsessed with getting faster.  He would want to exercise all the time, even after track practice. He also then began only eating fruits and vegetables for snacks.  About 2 weeks ago we noticed that this may be a problem and he looked extremely thin.  We weighed him and his weight was 117 lbs.  So in an effort to put pounds back on I became increasingly diligent about making sure he was eating all his meals and pushing snacks and protein shakes as well.  I even contacted the school to alert them, to make sure he was eating his lunch.  Now he does not eat unless I put every meal in front of him, but he does eat.  He has become extremely picky on what he will eat and saying he doesn't want to eat this or that especially not wanting to eat anything with a lot of calories.  Anytime he sits down to eat, it is a process that usually ends with a fight.  Needless to say this has become all consuming to our family. This past weekend I weighed him and he weighed 116 lbs. He is continuing to lose weight, I talked to him very reassuringly as to why he needs to eat.  He started crying saying he knows he should eat but his mind keeps telling him he needs to exercise to be faster. This broke my heart. It's like his mind can't get past the getting faster and getting fat thoughts, no matter how we rationalize this is not the case to him.   I have continued to allow him to do track which is part of the problem because it is very hard for me to even get 2000 calories in him a day and then he burns some of it off at track.  I have stopped any additional exercise.  I probably will stop track now.  I thought I could convince him that if he wanted to keep running on the team he had to put on more weight but that isn't working. When I tell him he needs the extra calories to keep running track, he says that he doesn't want to get fat.   He has become increasingly frustrated and mean tempered with us saying all we care about is food now and he is sick of it.  We have an appointment next week with a eating disorder therapist that hopefully will put us on the right path.  I hope that I have caught this early enough to make recovery easier.  I was just wanting some guidance on what to expect and if there is anything I can be doing until then to help him based on similar experiences.
Our son went through a similar thing when he started track in 5th grade.  He landed in the hospital in an eating disorders unit for 2 mo until he was WR.  It has been 2 year since and it is a marathon not a sprint recovering from brain starvation.  He is doing well now but there is still room for improvement.  My advise would be to not let him run track until he is weight restored and for some time after.  Running track might be an option in the future but it should hinge on him eating enough and maintaining a healthy weight.  Our son was only 9 years old and still fully under our control and I suspect thus will be much more difficult for you to enforce.  

My son has told us that he wants to run long distance track in 7th grade.  I will be consulting his wellness counselor regarding this when the time come and I suspect (IF we let him) there will be some contract in place before hand outlining what will be expected as far as increasing his calories during track season and I will be quick to yank him out if I see any reason for it.

So sorry that you find yourself in this situation. It sounds very similar to my Ds experience...same obsessions with sport and exercise. It is extremely important for your S health that you stop him exercising and seek support from your GP to assess his general health.
We immediately stopped all exercise even though she had regularly trained since she was 6 yrs (now 16) so it was part of her normal lifestyle. We experienced the same behaviours you described. She was diagnosed with restrictive anorexia and had suffered physical complications even though we think we caught it early.
Being mean tempered is common with eating disorders. Try to think that the bad behaviours towards you are not the lovely boy you know but an unwelcome tennant who has taken up residency and preventing your S from making rational decisions about his own health and well-being.
I am sending you virtual hugs and hope that you get the immediate support you desperately need.
We are here for support and any questions you have. Xx
Welcome to the forum, sorry that you have had to find your way here. You report some very concerning behaviours around your son. I would encourage you if you haven't already to have a look at our FEAST family guides in the learning center which explain much of the behaviour you are seeing. 

These documents from Australia also give you a ton of information about how to get started in getting that weight back on. 

I agree with your plan to stop track, and all exercise for the time being. As much as it is tempting to put reason and rationalisation towards our children, it tends to be unhelpful. Let him know that you are concerned for his health and well being, that you are clear about what needs to be done and don't let his words stop you. He will be angry, may even get violent when you challenge these behaviours but it does not mean they should not be challenged. 
D diagnosed restrictive AN June 2010 age 13. Mostly recovered 10 years later.  Treatment: multiple hospitalisations and individual and family therapy.
Hi jonesboyz,
a very warm welcome from Germany and great that you found us here. You will get a lot of help here, this forum was a lifesaver for us.
All the behaviour your son shows is ED behaviour. He seems to have restrictive AN. That is a genetic metabolism disease and in most cases it breaks out after dieting or starting over-exercising, like in your case. You could not have known that he has this gen and it is not your fault. You have done nothing wrong with him.

I would stop ALL exercising asap. He has no control over it and he can only learn to stop it and control it again if you stop it for him now. He will need to stop that for a long time.

Great that he is eating all you put in front of him. Try to get as much calories into him as possible. When he does not see that you are adding cream, oil and butter to his food he can eat that. 2000 calories will be too low to make him gain weight, most here needed 3000-6000 calories to see some steady weight gain. It is important that he gets the weight on again asap, then his outcome is much better.

"He has become extremely picky on what he will eat and saying he doesn't want to eat this or that especially not wanting to eat anything with a lot of calories."
We call that fear food. That is food he is afraid of eating because ED does not allow him to eat this. You need to tackl that. Make a list of what he is refusing to eat at the moment and re-introduce that again. He needs to eat all that he ate before ED started to get into good recovery.

Read as much as you can about AN and FBT here. Read Eva Musbys great book "Anorexia and other Eating Disorders: how to help your child eat well and be well: Practical solutions, compassionate communication tools and emotional support for parents of children and teenagers". You will learn what to do and what to say there in any possible situation you will get into in the next months.

"We have an appointment next week with a eating disorder therapist that hopefully will put us on the right path."
I hope that is not an old school ED therapist and that he does FBT. Ask for that, that is the only evidence based therapy and it is goldstandard in ED therapy, he must know that and should support you with that. If not, and if he starts to seek for "underlying issues" and "problems in family", take your son and RUN. Then you will need to find a better therapist. Be aware that no help might be better than bad help.

Don´t be afraid. You caught it really early and kids can recover from ED totally. He just needs your power and help now because he is not able to fight that alone. His brain is malnurished and he cannot think normal any more (like a diabetes patient with low bloodsugar).
Feed him 3 meals and 3 snacks to keep his blood sugar constant the whole day. Make sure that he eats everything by watching him eating. Add fats to his food because his brain is made of fat (80%) and it needs fat to recover. Try to get 500g-1000g weight gain each week to replace the lost weight quickly. He will freak out anyway, so make the work count. The faster you get the weight on and the faster you tackle fear food the better the outcome for 100% recovery.
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
hi jonesboyz and a very warm welcome,

I too have a son with a restrictive eating disorder who, although not previously into exercise, developed a compulsion while ill. At 12 years of age he even went out a 4am one morning to run without us knowing; still freaks me out to think about it.

I found information for myself and my husband the best way to manage my distress. When our kids are ill they are totally unable to take in the logic of our arguments. My son is a budding scientist doing AP courses but when ED had a hold of his mind he turned everything around and could not change his behaviours, in fact, it increased his distress because he knew he needed to eat and that he was in danger of having a heart attack but the 'force' in his head still wouldn't let him eat. 

Here is a website that helps you identify and record symptoms. It is Australian but suitable for anyone.

This is a blog post about using family based nutritional rehabilitation in the early stages of an ED.

An old member IrishUp has done a wonderful summary of the tricks the ED anxiety forces our kids to do. We had a couple of months of frisking our son (he was cross the first couple of days but then would hold out his arms of his own volition; I think he was actually relieved)

Kartini Clinic is a wonderful source of information, especially with young kids. They have some wonderfully informative blog posts about exercise here and here and here.

Many of us have adapted our repitoire of recipies to include ones with a very high nutritional content but low 'footprint', that is, not much bulk. You can find many suggestions here and here. It is best not to have any discussion about what is in the dishes you serve. A comment like 'I see that you are feeling anxious but I know what you need. Hey, did you see X video went viral?' and change the subject.

This article has been an eye opener for me, not just in explaining how my son got ill but helping me to keep on top of nutrition.

If you are looking for information on the how's of refeeding, there is no one better than Eva Musby and her very informative website, book and videos. Carrie Arnold's Decoding Anorexia is a wonderful synthesis of the neurobiology while being easy to read for us non-scientists.

I am so impressed with how quickly you are on this. We flailed around for at least half a year before we were at the stage you are at. Fantastic. Please feel free to come back and post on progress, sticking point, to vent and, of course, to ask any questions you have.

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.
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