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 have spent hours on this site.  I am so grateful there are so many people who are gathered together to help and get help.  

We luckily caught the disorder before my D weight got to inpatient levels.  She is 12 years old, 5'3" and at her lowest, her BMI was 14.7.  It is now up to 15.8 and she is fighting back harder than ever.  She is convinced she is fat and does NOT have an eating disorder.  She used to be a very fit gymnast, but has had to stop after losing 25% of her body weight.  

When I can get her to engage in an activity, she noticeably calms and she can get through her meal or snack, but she refuses nearly all the suggestions.  I've tried painting, coloring, knitting, writing, cutting snowflakes, comic books, piano....The only ones she will do IF I DO IT WITH HER are putting together a puzzle or designing a mosaic with colored tiles.  But I can't sit with her all the time before and after eating for 30 minutes each--which seems the minimum of what it takes.  Or maybe I'm wrong and I do need to block out that much time??  I have two other kids who can't be completely ignored though.  

Do any of you have advice on how to encourage/allow/trick your kids into doing coping activities?  And are there other good ones that I haven't tried?  Of course the only things she comes up with are physical.  She wants to run or do sit-ups/push-ups/squats..... ARGH!
Hi and welcome.it doesn't matter so much about the 30 minutes before unless she is a self harmer.the crucial time is 30 mins to an hour after meals.and the bad news is that yes,you have set the other kids up with an activity and focus on your ed d.while she is eating you need to watch her the whole time as they are magicians at making food disappear up sleeves,in pockets and waistbands.like many here-myself included-you won't want to believe she does this but all an kids do,they can't help it its just part of the illness.
She needs to go to the toilet before eating but can't go after for at least an hour.
Many people here if they find exercise out,require more calories to go in-not as a punishment,just natural consequence of using too much energy when they know they are sick.
We watched a lot of TV,my d played on her computer (while I folded washing or did other jobs around her).
It's important to remember that at this point your d is not in control of her exercise compulsion-her anorexia is.every time she eats she has a voice in her head that calls her terrible names and tells her how horrible she is for eating.every.single.time.
I feel for you ,I do.i have two younger ones myself and though I have tried to do stuff for them,the first year to 18 months their older sister took precedence because what she has can kill her.
Do you have any family or friends around you who could take them out for you one day a week?
Or someone who you can leave your d with between meals so you could take the other kids out for an hour,just for icecream,to the park,anywhere quick and easy but that gives them some time with you.
Try to get some systems in place,this will help,because initial refeeding is only the beginning.
Good luck,
Hi Dubaiexpat- I expect some of the more experienced members will be along soon with great input. Many people here have devoted an hour after every meal and snack to ensure their child was nourished and to ease the associated anxiety. I played cards, games or drew with my daughter for the first six weeks or so after every single meal and snack. Feeding her and supervising her after meals was a full time job. It got easier around the six week mark and then she distracted herself and now three months in, the anxiety with eating has lessened a lot and I don't need to distract/supervise. It might be more complicated if you have younger kids or can't take time off work. Do you have anyone that can step in to help with other kids or are they old enough to understand that your d needs your focus for now? The parents here and the doctors we saw at the beginning of my d's illness helped me understand that nothing was more important than getting the nutrition in.
Some distractions my d used were- iPad games, all kinds of art, TV shows and documentaries, knitting, felting, bead making. She often would listen to long audiobooks and do art or crafts at the same time and that seemed to help the most. On the hardest days, we did jigsaw puzzles and played board games and cards and we talked about anything that wasn't food related or stressful at all.
I'm sure you'll get some more suggestions soon. It's hard and not fair but you got this and your d has you.
Best wishes.
Hi, So glad you have found this site although sorry that you need to be here.   Come here often to ask questions, get advice, or just vent.... we all get it!  Shared wisdom is the best because knowledge is power in fighting an ED.   When your D talks of being fat or not having an ED, just validate her feelings without agreeing with her, and then distract.  Her brain has suffered a tremendous brain injury from being starved and it will take a long time to heal, long after being weight restored.  They say it takes a broken bone 18 months to fully heal so imagine how long it takes the brain to heal?? 

Be vigilant in watching your D eat.  My D became a magician at times and food would disappear if I turned my back for even one second.  After the meal is put down in front of her, don't take your eyes off of her.  Food can get spit in napkins, put in pockets, dropped for the dog, in a quick second.    After meals, my D liked to have a back rub while watching TV or I would run a brush through her hair.  Many kids don't want to be touched after (because the ED is beating them up inside for eating and they don't feel worthy) but my D allowed me to most of the time.   I know it is so time consuming to watch her for so long (during and after every meal and snack) but it needs to be done.  That being said, can you get some help with your other kids?   Maybe a relative or friend could help out? 

Hang in there, read as much as your can, and ask lots of questions.  You are not alone!