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.

Join these conversations already in progress:
• Road To Recovery - Stories of Hope
• Events for Parents and Caregivers Around the World
• Free F.E.A.S.T Conference Videos

Visit the F.E.A.S.T website for information and support.

If you need help using the forum please reach out to one of the moderators (listed below), or email us at bronwen@feast-ed.org.

Need to talk with another parent? F.E.A.S.T. parents offer peer support via:

whenwillthisbeover
Hello all.  We are almost 1.5 years into this and 13 YO D is doing much better.  She's in her weight range and behaviors are much much better.  HOWEVER, I notice her still doing some ED things, like last night the melted butter from her veggies were somehow still in the bowl (in the past she would spit out excess salad dress and butter).  I thought we were done with this, but apparently not.  Also, she sometimes is unable to finish her meal and we've been strict on the finish everything on your plate rule.  She's cut back significantly on the exercise, but still feels the need to do her ab workouts 1-2 times per week.  I feel like her ab obsession has not gone away.  I know these might sound like minor things compared to others that are just getting started, but our plan is to get her over the finish line and get rid of ED completely.  We don't want any lingering behaviors or habits.  Any advise on how we completely rid of this horrible thing that is still lingering on the fringes?

Also, she's never really talked about or opened up about her ED.  But most recently she admitted to having a problem in the past and claims that she doesn't have an issue anymore.  It's all in the past, but she can control it now.  How much of this should I believe?  How do I know if she's telling me the truth or not?  She has never been in therapy and I can't get her to go, so I have no idea how she's doing mentally other than the few times she opens up to me which is not very often.  
Quote
teecee
I always challenge behaviours by pointing them out. More often than not I get told off by my husband and my D used to sulk about it but more recently she is noticing them herself. She has recognised she’s in another cycle however she genuinely thought she wasn’t. She told me she could have gone on and on in the cycle with no one really knowing (I could see it) but decided she wants to be completely free. Sometimes they settle with where they are in recovery as it’s too hard to challenge. My D is 18yrs so it’s hard to impose things on her. At your stage I would be actively pointing it out and requiring those behaviours to be addressed if you can find a way of doing that. 
Quote
Foodsupport_AUS
I agree with teecee that it is worth pointing out things that you have observed. I also think it is good to offer positive comments back when she says that she doesn't have an issue any more. That is don't challenge her beliefs as such but rather point out behaviours that you believe are ED related - like squeezing oil out of food (I was amazed how much my D could get out) spitting out food, compulsion to exercise, foot jiggling etc.. Often as time goes on they wish to dissociate themselves from the behaviour. Sometimes it is such a habit that they don't realise they are doing it. My other thought is that she should be growing and gaining weight at present. If she isn't she may be keeping her ED quiet but not getting past it completely. 
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.
Quote
Barberton

whenwillthisbeover, My d is of a similar age, but we have been at this for about 3 years.

People talk about 'rewiring the brain' when discussing how to stop patterns or habits that present in EDs. As teecee says, challenging the behaviours by pointing them out is the best that you can do. Just remember to do so in a kind and compassionate way so that the ED doesn't arc up in defence (Eva Musby's material can help with learning to do this). "I see that you left some butter in your bowl. Do you think you could try and finish it?"

The desire for a flat stomach probably has to do with the "migration theory" (I think Cynthia Bulik is a source of info on this one). Basically, a person with an ED perceived a full belly as not a positive that they are eating well during a famine, but rather an indication that they are not going to survive the migration to richer lands because they have stopped and filled their belly. Whether you believe in this theory or not (I happen to but am not explaining it very well), it helps you to understand what the driver might be for your d in wanting to do her crunches. It's also no different than leaving the butter in the bowl in that it's an ED behaviour that needs discussing.

I recently asked the question on this forum about the need for therapy when your child won't engage in therapy. My d and I communicate through letters and notes and it's been super. Therapy just made her angry.

We all hope that our ED journey can end quickly. In my own situation, once I accepted that 'I can't eat the food for her' my focus shifted from wanting the ED to be gone to a focus on managing the illness. Calling behaviours out, asking questions, talking about alternative (healthier) ways of dealing with things. I hope this helps.   

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.
Quote
Torie
"I notice her still doing some ED things, like last night the melted butter from her veggies were somehow still in the bowl (in the past she would spit out excess salad dress and butter)."

How does the rest of the family feel about this recipe?  Can you remember back far enough to know how she felt about veggies in butter before ED set in?  The reason I ask is that - for example - 3 of my 4 kids refuse to add salad dressing to salad - that's just how they are.  So we didn't have salad during weight restoration.  (Personally, I would never eat salad without dressing.)

"Also, she sometimes is unable to finish her meal and we've been strict on the finish everything on your plate rule."

Do you offer her a break so that she can finish the meal a little later?

"She's cut back significantly on the exercise, but still feels the need to do her ab workouts 1-2 times per week.  I feel like her ab obsession has not gone away.  I know these might sound like minor things compared to others that are just getting started, but our plan is to get her over the finish line and get rid of ED completely.  We don't want any lingering behaviors or habits.  Any advise on how we completely rid of this horrible thing that is still lingering on the fringes?"

I really agree that you want to stamp out all vestiges of ED.  Someone here rightly compared it to walking up a sand dune - if you stop a bit short of the top, you will likely slide back down.  If you push on to the top of the dune, it is easy to maintain your footing.

"Also, she's never really talked about or opened up about her ED."

I think that's okay.

"But most recently she admitted to having a problem in the past and claims that she doesn't have an issue anymore.  It's all in the past, but she can control it now.  How much of this should I believe?"

I don't believe anything my d says about AN.  I don't think she lies about it, but I'm not at all convinced that she is rational about it, and this is a young adult who has been in full and strong recovery for years.

"How do I know if she's telling me the truth or not?  She has never been in therapy and I can't get her to go, so I have no idea how she's doing mentally other than the few times she opens up to me which is not very often."

My guess is that you are a much better judge of how she is doing mentally than she is, at least where ED is concerned.  If you are worried about depression or anxiety, you may want to get a professional evaluation.

Your message opened with this: "She's in her weight range and behaviors are much much better.  HOWEVER,"

If she is well and truly weight restored and if she is continuing to gain a little weight each year as is normal and expected through the teen and young adult years, I think you will see the behaviors gradually dropping off.  

We had a relatively smooth journey (compared to many here), and it was a full three years before I looked at my d and realized she was truly free of the beast.  So weird how long the brain healing takes.  It sounds like you are on a similar timeline.  Keep up the good work. xx

-Torie
"We are angels of hope, of healing, and of light. Darkness flees from us." -YP 
Quote
Torie
P.S.  You said, "She has never been in therapy and I can't get her to go"

That was my d, too.  I told her she didn't have to talk to the therapist, but she had to go and she had to listen.  I offered her the choice of taking a family member(s) along with no hard feelings from family members who were not chosen.  (She picked her sibs.)  I said I had found someone who was an expert in developing techniques to help with the challenges of the teen years (or something like that) who would suggest some techniques she might want to try.

In the end, I don't think the therapist helped much if at all.  For sure, she threw some wrenches in the works wrt my parental authority.  (She sided with my d on some issues I am sure she was incorrect about and that caused me problems.)

Eventually, her sister asked for a mental health evaluation.  I hadn't realized there are psychs that specialize in evaluation (as opposed to treatment).  That was a one-time deal.

Not sure if any of this might be relevant for your family or not.

Keep swimming. xx

-Torie
"We are angels of hope, of healing, and of light. Darkness flees from us." -YP 
Quote
whenwillthisbeover
Thank you everyone for the responses and advise.  We will continue stomping out the behaviors one by one.  Today there was much less butter left with her veggies, so I was a bit happier about that.  Tonight’s snack was banana bread with butter (she let me put the butter on without complaining!) and some almonds.  She’s been eating very well these days. The issue now is her need to constantly be moving.  I’m guessing that it’s ED.  In the morning she goes for a bike ride, walk in the afternoon, and then likes to play outside with her sister in between.  Then asks to do ab workouts or wall sits (to strengthen her core).  She’s a former gymnast, so used to lots of work outs and activity.  Unfortunately, due to covid, there’s no school, so it’s been hard for her to fill her days.  She’s started painting in the evenings and a little reading during the day.  Covid has made things more challenging as there is too much time to kill, but we are taking it one day at a time.  Thank you again for taking the time to read my rants and sharing your experiences.  
Quote

        

WTadmin