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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Worriedmom_3
Hello,
A couple months ago I posted about my 12 year old daughter and her disordered eating habits. Thank you to all those that responded and gave me some great advice. I kind of needed a kick in the butt to admit that it was definitely turning into an eating disorder. She has started seeing a dietician and therapist every two weeks at a very well respected eating disorder clinic in our area. I love both the dietician and therapist but things haven’t been going as well as I had hoped. She’s still losing weight. She’s not under weight but has gone from 130lbs to 118lbs. Each time we go in the dietician has said “no more weight loss”. Yesterday I think they decided to get tough with her. Her dietician said “Do we need to pull all exercise? Do you want to start Intensive Outpatient and be here 3x a week? That’s where we are headed”. She is an athlete and does not over exercise which is why they haven’t told her she can’t but if they take that away she will have nothing fun in her life. I’m hoping this really hit home and it will see her adjust. During the dietician appointment my daughter said “Once the full soccer season starts I will know if I’m being unhealthy because if I play horribly and have no endurance then I know I will have to adjust”. Health wise she is still fine, mental health wise she is still not ok. Some days she eats a ton then some days she restricts. I just don’t know what to do anymore. All she keeps saying during the appointments is she’s just trying to eat healthy. Any input or suggestions? Could the dietician and therapist actually be causing more harm than good?
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Ellesmum
My advise would be the standard three meals and three snacks a day that you prepare and she has to eat. I’d stop exercise right away too.  

It it takes a long, long time for the brain to recover from an ED, a girl of her age without an ED needs a lot of calories and your daughter needs way more because of her ED.  

Yes bad therapy is worse than none, are they supporting you in getting her to eat? That’s what’s really crucial, that you get the training and support.

i understand you don’t want to take her only bit of fun so you have great leverage here, truth is though if she continues to lose weight ultimately she won’t be able to do any sport (mine will never do any kind of keep fit for the rest of her school career, maybe team sports next year) 

it doesn’t matter if your daughter adjusts, she needs food and you need to be in charge of it, difficult though it is.
Ellesmum
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scaredmom
Hi Worriedmom_3,

You say she is still losing weight and that she is not yet underweight. The fact is a young child should be gaining weight at 12 and not losing. Has she dropped form her historical weight percentile? 
And when she is "Still losing weight" (THIS SHOULD NOT HAPPEN). A few things:
  • Is she supervised for all food and drinks (my d would walk away with her drink and toss it). She needs to be supervised otherwise what you think she is ingesting she may not and that is the most common way to not gain weight.
  • secret exercise in the middle of the night. Does her short walk really mean a full on run? 
  • YES you may need to pull all physical activity until she gains back some. 
  • This will not "hit home" and she will not adjust. They are held captive and are brainwashed to restrict and lose by ED. You cannot "talk her out of this" you need to get full on control of all her calories, every single one and she has to eat it all. 
  • My d also plays soccer and I will tell you, she was so ferocious on the field when she was sick. Now doing well with her weight, she plays but not with the same ferocity. It is amazing. They can carry on so well and exceed when very sick. I suggest you stop all exercise(because she is losing), gain weight and then introduce it back slowly
  • She should be eating 3 meals and 2-3 snacks everyday without fail. You need to ensure this, she cannot restrict EVER! 

I needed a reframe when we started, you cannot let her be in control of the food. That is your job. How do we empower YOU to take ED away from her? What does she eat, are you with her all the time, (she needs 24/7supervision right now), does she eat more when there is more activity? How is she allowed to restrict? the team sounds like the are colluding with ED and that has to stop. They need to say in front of your child "D you will eat EVERYTHING mom/dad plates for you. You are ill and you cannot make any decisions right now. Your parents know best and we support them to make you better. end of discussion". It really needs to be this way, and it is hard and scary for you, I can understand that. 
Please ask all the questions you have. But please start today, take control, find your inner strength and go with it. This is an illness you need to fight fast and hard. We are here for you.
When within yourself you find the road, the right road will open.  (Dejan Stojanovic)

Food+more food+time+love+good professional help+ATDT+no exercise+ state not just weight+/- the "right" medicine= healing---> recovery(--->life without ED)
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Worriedmom_3
Yeah I’m letting her have too much control. I think that’s the problem. I also think she is too smart and I’m getting played. She will have a couple weeks of no noticeable eating issues. I think she’s getting better and then the next week she is restricting again. I feel like this is a roller coaster and I’m not sure how I’m going to fix it. 
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Ellesmum
Yeah I’m letting her have too much control. I think that’s the problem. I also think she is too smart and I’m getting played. She will have a couple weeks of no noticeable eating issues. I think she’s getting better and then the next week she is restricting again. I feel like this is a roller coaster and I’m not sure how I’m going to fix it. 


this is a long term thing, not weeks or months,  ED does make them very smart but your daughter is 12 so she doesn’t get to choose and right now she’s incapable of making good choices so you need to make them for her. 

It is a rollercoaster, you will have dips and curves but full recovery can be years, my d is 14.5 and I’ll be supervising and making sure she’s eating enough for as long as she’s under my roof tbh.   
Ellesmum
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scaredmom
If you let us know exactly how a day goes with eating and activities, I am sure we can brainstorm and find some ideas for you to try.
When within yourself you find the road, the right road will open.  (Dejan Stojanovic)

Food+more food+time+love+good professional help+ATDT+no exercise+ state not just weight+/- the "right" medicine= healing---> recovery(--->life without ED)
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Worriedmom_3
We wake up and I help all the kids get ready for summer school (fun summer school), I make a light breakfast that my oldest does not eat. Then they go to summer school and I go to work.  Sometimes I get off early enough to pick them up otherwise they go to friends houses or family. Lunch is usually not with me due to work. I will usually get a report from a friend or family member about her eating habits at lunch. Sometimes she eats and sometimes she doesn’t. Then I pick them up and we go to the pool. They play til 4:30. One of my daughters has softball. Two others have soccer. They go to their practices and I then make food at home or pick something up on the way. The only place my oldest will eat from is Subway so we eat subway frequently. I feel like a terrible mom right now. I’m not on her like I should be. It’s just so frustrating because her younger siblings I don’t need to give them food. They just eat snacks when hungry and eat their meals. My husband has been working a ton of extra hours because money is so tight right now. When I’m at work he does all the meals but he isn’t as good as me in that department. I also am unsure how much the friends and family should push her to eat. I don’t want it to become an issue with her friends. Really when it comes down to it I just need to be a better parent and take more control. I just thought she wasn’t so bad and could logically think that if she doesn’t cooperate and stop this she will lose soccer. She might just be too deep into it and that is just so sad to finally see.  The crazy thing is summer is our down time. Less activities and more home time. I’m scared for when everyone’s sports seasons start. That is only if she starts eating better I guess. I honestly feel like everything is a mess. 
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Ellesmum
This illness unfortunately requires a complete rethink about life and for us to parent in ways we didn’t expect to.  The problem is that the longer your d goes without sufficient nourishment the sicker she gets and the more entrenched the illness becomes.

Breakfast has to be absolutely non negotiable and not a light one either, you can bump hers up with smoothies.  If you’re able to come out of work to supervise lunch do that or could a staff member do it?  Add in a big bedtime snack too, bump up calories where possible with cream, nuts, sugar, calorie powder etc. Oil in everything possible.  Food every 3/4 hours.

its a harsh truth but this thing doesn’t just go away by itself and it’s not a phase but an extremely serious illness that needs to be treated as such. Once we accept that fact, and it is hard to face, we can put our armour on to fight.
Ellesmum
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scaredmom
I will respond in more detail in a few hours, but I need to tell you YOU ARE NOT A BAD MOM!!!
This illness will not just test you, it can brutalize you! 
It took a shift in my thinking about parenting and not being collaborative but as mamaroo says  a benevolent dictator.

Sending my best.
When within yourself you find the road, the right road will open.  (Dejan Stojanovic)

Food+more food+time+love+good professional help+ATDT+no exercise+ state not just weight+/- the "right" medicine= healing---> recovery(--->life without ED)
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scaredmom
Worriedmom_3, 
Many have had to take time off work to feed their child. DO you think you may be able to scale back on work to do this if your H is so busy right now?
I presume your 12 yo d is the eldest, from what you have said above.
Who supervises lunch and do they know what that means? My D looked like she was drinking her juice in the water bottle but because is was coloured and not see through, no one suspected there was no juice at all in the bottle.
She goes swimming and in order to get the weight back, this may need to be stopped for awhile. Is there a way you can do that?
We needed to ensure 3  meals and 3 snacks every 3-4 hours everyday to get the routine back. 
Family can be helpful to supervise the food but friends, I think, just need to be her friends. I would not wish to burden a  child with that responsibility. Now if you have friends(adults) that are willing to help, have them come over for a meal so they can see what needs to be done. 
Unfortunately, I have seen with ED there is no "borderline ED" . It is like being borderline pregnant. I am sorry for that. Does she have a proper diagnosis? 

As for the fall and back to sports etc.. my d had to be pulled from sports and gym for a long time and I discussed with the gym teacher what she could or could not do and it was fine. 
My D was almost 12 at the time of diagnosis. School and extra curricular activities that burn calories are for well children, and if she is ill those things may need to be put on hold. I know it is hard, and we all wish everything to be "Normal" , but she is ill and right now the whole family life and activities need to change to ensure that she gets healthy. 
Do your other children know what is happening? How old are they? The kids do know what is happening so please ensure you let them know that d is ill and you are doing what you need to to get her better and that you are there for them too. They can sense the change in the family and to name it is less frightening. Their imaginations could make things worse for them.

Keep asking questions, we wish to help.
When within yourself you find the road, the right road will open.  (Dejan Stojanovic)

Food+more food+time+love+good professional help+ATDT+no exercise+ state not just weight+/- the "right" medicine= healing---> recovery(--->life without ED)
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workingthrough
Sending support your way. We were sure s had a “mild” case and that once we started full meals, snacks, ‘fear foods’ we’d be well on our way. He had only been restricting a short time . . . one year later and we’re still mainting a diet high, high in calories, supervising, and regularly rotating fear foods as well as appts. It required (for us) an extinction of nearly every extra activity - for everyone in the family. 

The positive thing, he’s making progress - but I’ll be honest, it’s been a sacrifice for everyone. For us, when the ED won (missed meal, light meal, extra activity) it took us days-week to catch back up. It took everything we had to supervise nonstop, but for us, was critical. 

Our team pushed and held us to progress. If weight gain didn’t happen, if missed meals were happening, we needed a higher level of care. At the time it seemed like they were overexaggerating, but truly, I know we wouldn’t have made progress without requiring those things. 

We had a contract of sorts with s in the beginning that helped a lot. He earned things for full meals, snacks, fear foods. We didn’t leave the table until things were finished - he lost school, phone, technology, activities. It was awful - but as he ate, he came back to us. We hope and pray each day that he continues with progress. 

It is is the hardest thing. I wish there was an easier way. We are all changed in many ways. Sending much love your way. I wish I knew you irl as we’d love to have your youngers to play, or help watch your older. It’s touchy with opening up to others; but if you’d could get a grandparent or someone close informed and completely aware, they could possibly help with your other kids? With s, my husband and I were the only ones that really knew all of the ED tricks and quirks to watch for. The bulk of the work needed to be us or ED found shortcuts every time. 
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Worriedmom_3
Hello everyone,
Thank you so much for all the great advice and responses. I needed a reality check and to get my act together as a parent. I think I was still in a little bit of denial that my beautiful daughter was actually suffering as much as she is. 

We we have had a spectacular week and a half!  I have gotten her to eat EVERY SINGLE MEAL!  Even breakfast which she has routinely skipped for about 2 years now. I’m actually shocked because she isn’t even fighting me on it. She has more energy, thinking clearer, and is being less of an ornery teenager. I know it’s too early to say that we’ve turned the corner and the other shoe could drop at any moment BUT we are on the right road. 

Thank you for making me come to grips with my new reality that she is too sick to regulate herself. Once I started taking control and not letting her disorder rule her things have started to be easier for both her and I. 

Sara 
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Ellesmum
That’s brilliant! Really well done. 

I understand about the ‘denial’ it can take a while to truly understand the severity of this illness and how much life changes and must change.

keep going now, you will have blips and it’s vital to try not to take your eye off the ball,  I got a bit complacent at Christmas- big mistake.   Breakfast is a great start to the day and perhaps one of the easiest to make big what with juice, carbs, milk etc.
Its a great feeling once we see glimmers of our real child, just keep supervising, remain vigilant, remember it’s a long road and keep doing what you’re doing so well.  
Ellesmum
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scaredmom
That is great and please note that there may be difficult days ahead and it is not a failure it is just part of the illness.
great job! 
When within yourself you find the road, the right road will open.  (Dejan Stojanovic)

Food+more food+time+love+good professional help+ATDT+no exercise+ state not just weight+/- the "right" medicine= healing---> recovery(--->life without ED)
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tina72

We we have had a spectacular week and a half!  I have gotten her to eat EVERY SINGLE MEAL!  Even breakfast which she has routinely skipped for about 2 years now. I’m actually shocked because she isn’t even fighting me on it. She has more energy, thinking clearer, and is being less of an ornery teenager. I know it’s too early to say that we’ve turned the corner and the other shoe could drop at any moment BUT we are on the right road.


It shows again how we can turn that behaviour around when we stay strict and insist on eating and that they are often relieved to have control taken away and that the fight gets less when we stick on it. Congratulations!
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
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