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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I’ve talked to several new families lately and just feel the need to post a basic “ outline” of what those of us on the other side can concur on. ( yes every one is different and no path identical but some basic commonalities are there).
1) food and weight gain are the only way out of this. And SCIENCE SHOWS THE FASTER THE BETTER!!!
2) they do not have to acknowledge their illness or “ want” to get better in the beginning or for a long time into the process.
3) FATS FATS FATS FATS there is no recovery without massive FATS
4) FEAR FOODS MUST BE ADDRESSED. Without this they will be stuck with food rules forever. Some rip the bandaid off ( we did- I’m a strong believer in this), some do laddering... but it must happen.
5) separate ED from your loved one. They cannot control it. It controls them. Imagine your loved one at gunpoint by a monster spewing aweful lies. Your real kid is in there and relieved you are kicking EDs ass for them until they are strong enough to.
6) when underweight and struggling stop sports and any unnecessary exertion ( recess, PE). Sometimes this needs to be for a very long time especially for those with exercise/movement compulsion. Also they must be willing to eat additional replacement calories without argument.
7) talk therapy is pretty much useless until further down the road. The brain cannot work correctly when repairing itself from starvation/chemical imbalances.
8)Dieticians who understand ED and FBT are few and far between. Dieticians can often cau se more harm than good. Reinforcing ED by focusing on numbers and exchanges. What is “ healthy” for an ED person is VERY different.
9) Weight goals are almost always set TOO LOW. Many of us have found our loved ones need to be at a much higher weight percentage/BMI than pre-ed to get into full recovery.
When you feel “ stuck” try adding another 5-10 pounds. Many people have witnessed dramatic changes.
10) this is not your fault. This is no ones fault. This is a disease of the brain. Don’t look to the past. Focus on now.
11) This takes years. This is a marathon recovery. Simply restoring weight is only the first step, critical, but only the first step.
12) Trust your gut. Don’t negotiate with ED. Stay calm. Brick wall. There is no logic so don’t waste your breath in debates. “ food is your medicine” “ hmm hmmm I’m sorry this is so hard now take another bite.”

13) inpt/residential care does not mean failure. Sometimes it is absolutely essential and life saving BUT they do not come home “ cured” or in remission/recovery. Hard work and many things of the above list still remain the same.
Persistent, consistent vigilance!
Great tips/advice!!
Thank you ! I need these tattooed onto my eyelids ! 

I would add some points I did not realise when I started. 

your child will hide food when unwell. This was a shock to me. You probably won’t believe this at first but it is a normal part of ED. So keep your eyes peeled. Check pockets. Do occasional checks of the bedroom. Somehow kids manage to hide food and can feel very ashamed about this. 

Prepare for lots of screaming, food throwing. This is normal. It usually gets worse after you start refeeding. You need to learn not to emotionally react and tolerate the distress. This is not easy to learn, but you can do it. And you need to learn to become emotionally detached from your child’s distress. Some young people may also self-harm. 

Life as you know it will change. This is full time work. When acutely refeeding, there is nothing else except preparing meals and snacks, supporting eating and supervising. It is likely you will need to take time off if you are working. 

Protect siblings as much as you can. Let them spend time away from the home ( difficult at present). 

Get help for yourself if you need it. Caring for someone with ED is exhausting. Some (don’t know how many but I guess a significant number of carers need medication or counselling to get them through.)
Reach out to other parents, use the forum. Find other supports. You will need a lot of hugs. 

100% recovery is possible. There is nothing like the joy of watching your child’s brain heal.