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.


We are going to have to go back to phase 1 for a while to get an ED flare-up turned around.

Previously my D very aggressive in this phase, will get up from table and walk away, push past to get to her bedroom, punch and hit.  Food gets thrown, plates smashed and cupboard raided to throw out food she does not want to eat.

I am a large guy, so physically when I am around we can force our D to follow instruction and I can wear the hits and restrain her.  (She is disciplined for this later).

When wife home alone, much harder.  D is taller and stronger.  So while W tries to enforce the rules, AN walks over the top of her physically.

Any tips with how you have dealt with the violent behavior and keeping D at table to finish meals when home alone as a mum?

Our kids in the depths of EDs are terrified out of their wits at the prospect of eating to gain, and just eating normally. Frequently they will fight whoever is requiring them to do that. Sometimes they resort to violence in an effort to push away anyone trying to help, and that includes the parents whom they love, deep down.  As our former executive director, Laura Collins said,



Framing these episodes as anxiety and not aggression is really important. That stance helps keep us on our child's side instead of on the defensive or escalating with an aggressive response. It helps keep the focus on safety instead of discipline. It also depersonalizes it: this is something happening to them that they need AND DESERVE safety. 

This IS common and the most dangerous response, in my opinion, is to allow it to make parental decisions. If we as caregivers change our plan, negotiate, hide, explode, or give up in response to a patient's anger and aggression we stop being parents and start being tools of the ED.

Getting other adults, doctor, therapist, psychiatrist, social services, school, and police on board as a full circle of safety are all options. Medications are options. Clear and irrevocable boundaries explained in a calm moment are an option. Clearly stating "what happens if..." and following through TO THE LETTER no matter how inconvenient, embarrassing, or damaging to one's reputation or schooling or future -- these are the tools parents have.

One last thing is a really common phenomenon with anxiety that you can learn more about from non-ED sources: where the anxious person uses other people for emotional regulation. Unable to stop "the wave" of anxiety or cope with it, some kids grow dependent on creating an enormous emotional scene ending in yelling or crying or physicality which temporarily flushes out the tension and brings a temporarily calm. But then, unable to do that for themselves they have to create worse and worse scenes seeking the same result. So we as parents have to learn to do two very difficult things: refuse to be part of the escalation AND sit alongside as the kid experiences intolerable discomfort and learns to experience it and then de-escalate it on their own. Parenting anxious people takes special skills, and this can be a very, very powerful opportunity. Many parents lack those skills at first but all parents can learn them. With anxious kids, we HAVE to learn them to be effective caregivers. I was a slow learner, myself, but it helped me immensely and not just in parenting.

Here are some threads about this topic.  


How to handle violent behavior at table?

Advice please - fear food rages 

Book recommendation - dealing with violent aggressive or self destructive children

the rages 

Discouraged by ED rages

w/r now violent

Violent rages

Severe violence and exercise

Daughter age 28, restrictive anorexia (RAN) age 11-18, then alternating RAN with binge eating disorder and bulimia with laxatives, is in remission from EDs for 3 years after finally finding effective individual therapy. Treatment continues for comorbid disorders of anxiety, ADD and depression. "Perseverance, secret of all triumphs." Victor Hugo
I told my daughter I would call 911 if she hit me again. She has not hit me since then.

She's just barely 8, so not a danger to me. Even so ... that's what I did.

"Hope is a wonderful thing ... but hope by itself is not enough. Hope is the reason to take action, to make a plan and then to change the plan when it isn’t working - over and over and over again if necessary." Hannah Joseph (Let's Feast Friday Reflection, "Just Keep Going," Friday, March 3rd, 2015)