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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Sosad1
Hi
Our darling daughter was diagnosed just under 5 weeks ago. We are under the CAMHS team and started FBT. Initially we had successful weight gain but following a big weight gain our daughter has started restricting again. We are trying to be compassionate but are loosing the battle- she is now loosing weight again and is so vicious during mealtimes and doing all sort of maladaptive things like squeezing out the milk from her bowl of cereal. She is vicious with her words and although I try to ignore the words I can’t and it really upsets me. I feel like a complete failure. Help me please. 
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LaraB

@Sosad1 I am so sorry you have had to find your way to this forum but you are really welcome and you will find lots of support and help here. Everyone is so kind here and have really helped me. 

You are not a failure. Refeeding is a difficult business. The vicious words and strange behaviours are unfortunately absolutely normal  part of the illness. I had to learn to accept that her emotions and distress and awful words she used were part of the eating disorder (Ed) and no matter what she said or how she behaved, I had to find ways to get her to eat. It is very frightening I know. And I know it is not easy when you are faced with someone you barely recognise. This is a massive massive parenting challenge.
I was advised to try to separate the ED from my daughter and recognise the vicious words and behaviours as being the ED and not my daughter- like a separate monstrous identity.

it helped me to read about the illness. There are lots of great resources. I have pasted a link below from the FEAST website about how to support your child to eat. 

https://www.feast-ed.org/meal-support-resources/

great that you initially managed to support your child to put weight on. It is not unusual for there to be ups and downs with weight. I found it helpful to think of food as medicine which my D needed and even when she resisted, she still had to have it to get better and it was my job as a parent to somehow try to ignore or accept her distress and work out ways for her to have the medicine she needs. 

what helped me was to give a bit more detail on the forum about what my child was eating during the day and people advised me about how to get more energy in. 

Sending you a massive hug.

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Sosad1
Thank you for replying. We’ve just had another terrible snack. She seems to be becoming more and more resistant, starting to say she won’t have her milk now (which although she hates milk is the one part of the refeeding that she has been compliant with) she says she doesn’t want to get better and she doesn’t believe we are there for her. I am at a loss as to how to help her, when I’m supporting her she tells me that I’m being fake and patronising and that everything I do makes her worse and feel worse about herself. We have always had a warm open relationship and this has hit me hard and I can’t always control my tears in front of her. We keep reinforcing that we are here and we are going to get her better but she simply doesn’t believe it and has lost all faith in me knowing what food is best for her. I’m so scared. 😢
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LaraB

It doesn’t matter what she says and it doesn’t really matter what you say either. It is impossible to find the magic words. I know I tried too and worried about whether what I was saying was right. There is no way to avoid the distress. You (and she) just have to get through it unfortunately. The most important thing is to love her and your loving her right now is being there for for her and doing what you are doing which is continuing to insist with love that she eats and drinks what you require her to do. I cried many times in front of my child. So don’t worry about that. We are encouraged not to do that so your child can see you being strong and confident. So it is a good idea to try to fake confidence until you develop it over time but that is something you have to learn so don’t beat yourself up if you cry. It gets better I promise. Just a really really steep learning curve. 

no words will help her right now. What will help is every bite she takes, every sip she drinks. Just take it one snack, one meal at a time. Your love as her parent will get you and her through. It is like going back to when she was a toddler. My child used to have terrible tantrums as a toddler but you kind of expect that as a parent so you learn to manage it and cope with it and it doesn’t stop you insisting she eat and take medicine. 

Have a cup of tea. Maybe go for walk around the block. You can do this. Xxx

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Enn

Good morning from Canada,
I welcome you as well. 
What you describe of your d and her reaction to weight gain is common. 
It takes time to learn what the ED in your home needs to be able to eat. The resources listed above by LaraB are very helpful. Please read around the forum and ask all the questions you have. IF you also let us know some of the challenges you are facing we can troubleshoot to find a way through. 
My d said the same things about me being fake and not knowing anything. That is the ED in her head trying to get you to back down, which means you are getting through to ED that you mean business. 

I have a few questions for you:

1: How old is she?
2: What is she eating? We can help you add in calories to get the weight on. 
3: is she over exercising?
4: Does she purge?
5: Is she hiding foods?

My d and I had a warm relationship prior to ED and it was awful during refeeding and I never thought that it would get better. It did get better. Right now it will be hard on you but it is something you will get through. Your main job is to feed her and feed her. As she gets the weight on and you get your armour on for ED (by learning and persevering), it does get better. That was hard for me to believe at the beginning, so just keep that in the back of your mind. 

I know you are scared and that is common. I was too. I did have to change my parenting style from 'asking' to enforcing certain behaviours especially the eating. That had to become nonnegotiable. Some have taken the cell phone and only after the child eats, then we gave them back to them for a few hours. Or some have used video games as incentives.  Of course social interaction cannot be used right now due to COVID, is there something she really would like to do? online shopping? Crafts? 

I am glad you found the forum. It was only when I joined that I did not feel so alone and it was so helpful to hear from others that really understood.  🌸 



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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Foodsupport_AUS
Welcome to the forum, I am so sorry that you have had to find your way to here. 

As the others have said, this is hard, so hard. Your D needs you to weather her storm and raging, she needs you to hear all of the thoughts that her going through her head. It doesn't mean that what she is saying is the truth, but she is really suffering and she needs you to know that. At this stage it is normal and expected for her to say that she doesn't want to get better, can't get better, and there is nothing you can do. It is really hard to recognise that your real child, that child who you had the amazing relationship is still there. She will come back, right now she needs you to be much stronger than her ED.

Please do read the resources and look through them to help you learn some skills. This is not normal parenting. You will need to tolerate her distress, and accept it with loving firmness. Right now we cannot make them feel better. 
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.
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Sosad1

Thank you all for your replies. 

In answer to your questions
1 She is 13
2 We are doing 3 normal meals eg lasagne, curry and rice, roast beef potatoes etc, 3 snacks eg houmous and pita bread, cereal bar, biscuits
she is not able to exercise and doesn’t appear to be hiding or purging

she is finishing about 50% of these but then comes to a full stop. We carry on encouraging her and telling her it’s not optional but she won’t eat any more- occcasionally we can get one more mouthful in but that’s it. She cannot see food as fuel and necessary for recovery. 

We will not give up on her but don’t seem to have had any success for the last 10 days even though we feel like we’ve tried all the tools we’ve read about. Do we just have to watch her slowly decline?
Any suggestions would be great. 

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teecee

I echo everything that has already been said. 

ED is illogical so no amount of convincing will talk her round. It may help to think that voice you hear is not your D but rather something that is holding her captive and making unreasonable demands. In the face of it faking until you make it (confidence, calm, compassion) will help to deal with it. It’s the most frightening thing dealing and enduring their distress especially when our kids are usually the most caring, compassionate kids around. It’s a shock seeing them behave in a way that is so at odds but that is what starvation of the brain does to them. With persistent nutrients your D will come back. 

There is no failure here, only feedback. The quicker you can learn the skills to get the food in the better. You will learn so much so quickly but know that it’s a topsy turvy illness with lots of strange things being normal. There will come a point where you may be feel “is food really medicine” as symptoms may get temporarily worse but at this point (similar to what you are experiencing now) it’s more important than ever to keep going and pushing through There is no way round only through so unfortunately you have to deal with this behaviour for her to get well. 

Someone once said if you are seeing the monster (ED in its vile, spitting hateful abuse form) then you have the chance to slay the monster. It tries to frighten you in to backing off. Your daughter needs you to help you slay ED...You can do it !!
Please let us know how we can help...what questions do you have? There are no silly questions....ask away. 


Sending you virtual hugs and strength. Xx

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Enn

I wish to share what we went through, and not sure if you feel this would be feasible for you. We just told her that we expect she will eat everything that we plate and that we would sit with her all day if needed. D was 12 at diagnosis and got so upset thinking we could out last her and so "just" ate. She was fuming and throwing food and we replaced it over and over again. We learned that the ED in our home ate in silence and we had to avert our eyes away from her. When she got upset, it was me she directed her rage at. I learned to go to my room and her dad had to just sit it out with her in silence. When some kids have run away from the table, some have learned to corner them at the table or chase them with the food until they ate. 

Some have had to spoon feed their child. Some have had to coach, "take the spoon in your hand, move it to your mouth, take a bite... take another etc..." truly baby steps like teaching a toddler. They cannot tell us exactly what they need to get them to eat, that is the hardest part.

Is she drinking caloric beverages like milk or juices? We found we could get a lot of calories in that way. Grape juice has higher cal per cup than apple or OJ. Also use whole milk and add in heavy whipping cream. You can get the same number of calories  per cup as in two cups of "regular" milk that way.
We are here to aid in anyway we can. 

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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Enn
Here are some other resources. The videos at the end are really nice.

Anorexiafamily.com
FEAST-ed.org
https://www.kartiniclinic.com/blog/post/tolerating-our-own-childrens-distress/
https://www.feast-ed.org/cm-animated-videos-for-parents/
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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LaraB

@Sosad1 at this stage all calories count. She needs to be kept out of kitchen and you need to plate up her food. Cahms May have told you not to add anything to her food. iGNORE THIS. You need to get as much energy in as possible in every bite. You have fantastic opportunities to fortify her food with the meals you have mentioned above. You need to learn to be very heavy handed with adding oil, butter, cream, cheese, heavy coconut cream for curries, grated almonds. Fry everything instead of grill. Forget everything you have learnt about healthy cooking and eating. Healthy eating is high energy eating and she needs lots of fats. Don’t worry so much about fruit and veg at this stage which tend to fill kids up.
 Lasagna is the perfect example, you can add cheese, oil, double cream in the cheese sauce. Rapeseed oil has no taste and can be added to lots of things. 

curry also is fantastic for fortifying with coconut cream, double cream, oil, grated almonds and rice can soak up lots of oil. 

you want to think of high calorie low volume when it comes to sauces. 

do your homework to find the highest calorie food items. Tesco do large pitta breads. Kind cereal bars or nature valley have close to 200 cals compared with some cereal bars which only have 80 cals in them. 

could you have a go at home made hummus- it is dead easy to make and means you can add oil. 

where you can try serving things out of their packaging so you can fortify them or build up amount over time. 

Is she having milk? You need to serve whole milk and fortify with cream ( add to bottle already in fridge). 

anyway these are some ways I increased the energy content. It is very very difficult to put the weight on unless you fortify. xxxxxx

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melstevUK
Sosad1,

Welcome and so sorry for what you are going through.  I hope you are starting to realise following the posts above that, as scary and incomprehensible to you as your d's behaviour is right now, it is utterly normal in terms of an ed. 
I know it is a bank holiday weekend but can you phone the team on Tuesday and talk about the difficulties you are having? I don't know what kind of meetings or support you have been receiving during lockdown but someone from the team needs to speak to her and reinforce the message that she has to eat all that she is given and trust that you, her mum, knows what she needs. FBT is not just a case of telling the parents to refeed the patient at home, they should be actively supporting you in this task and that should involve conversations with your d as well. Perhaps you can have a conversation on Tuesday about this.
In terms of struggling to get her to eat, part  of what happens is that we lose confidence in these early stages that our children are capable of eating and there starts to be a spiral downwards. This must be tackled so try and tell yourself that she IS capable of finishing her meals. She will suffer in her her head but there is no way forward without you being able to support her in this task by kind insistence that the food needs to be eaten. As hard as it is, you have to display resolve that she will finish all her meals and look as if you know what you are doing. This is the best way you can help her right now. 
So not easy but each extra mouthful beyond your own expectations will take you in the right direction.
Believe you can and you're halfway there.
Theodore Roosevelt.
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PurpleRain
Have you read Eva musby's book? She has a website too and she's a member of this forum. Both were really helpful to me during refeeding, and this forum has been a lufeline all along. Keep reading, keep feeding, keep asking questions. The learning curve is very steep, and the journey is so exhausting both emotionally and physically, but at least to me, reading and gathering information helped a lot.
13 yo d started to eat "healthy" September 2018, she had a growth spurt a bit later, followed by tummy bug. She started restricting breakfast and school lunch in January 2019 (that we know). We succesfully refed at home.
I have found inner strenght, patience and compassion that I did not know I had.
Never retreat, never surrender
keep feeding
 
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Sosad1
Thank you for all your support- it means so much. Feeling a bit stronger today, loved the animated cartoons. She had about 80% of her breakfast but we then spent another hour to get her to have just one more spoonful. She is very resistant and just refuses point blank to have any more and just ignores whatever is being said to her with cold stoney eyes and ‘I don’t care‘. Any suggestions as to what we can try to break down this resistance?
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LaraB
So glad you are feeling a bit stronger. And Well done. You got another spoonful in. You showed the ED you mean business. Just keep demonstrating you are in charge of situation. You know what she needs and you intend business- all in a kind firm way. Eva Musby I think suggests that if you decide the mealtime is over, say something like “ok I am going to finish this meal now” so all the time you are demonstrating that you are in charge. And that it is not the ED in charge. And the next snack or meal is a fresh start.

Distraction, distraction, distraction is the name of the game. We had TV on all the time during meals as that made it easier for D to eat. We watched loads of Netflix series. X
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teecee

We did Life Stops Until You Eat (LSUYE) which effectively means that nothing else happens until food eaten. This worked for us but not for all. We found that her motivation was being independent and well enough to attend college so we used that as a motivation. Finding the motivation is often the key but not easy when they are telling you they don’t care. 

What does she do? Phone, Xbox, talking to people??? Rather than being seen to take them from her by saying she can’t have them, say she can have them but AFTER the meal is completed and so on and so on. 

We coached when we met refusal “pick the fork up like this, put a piece of pasta on it and put it in your mouth, now chew like this...” etc. Eva MUSBYS resources were essential for us at refeeding. 

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Foodsupport_AUS
There is no one thing that works for everyone, so finding the thing that helps your D to move forward is really important. It also may change over time. Ultimately when she, or her ED feels that there is no option but to complete the meal she will tend to eat the best. She doesn't have to want to do it, or even agree to do it, it just has to happen. Many parents have had to devote many hours a day to trying to get all meals in. It is tiring and tedious. If her ED thinks that you can be distracted or she just has to wait you out, this is what will happen. 
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.
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Sosad1
Just had the saddest snack. Nearly 2 hours and only half the snack and ended in her having a big panic attack and then saying she has given up and that the treatment plan isn’t working. I tried to reassure her but not sure anything went in. She says she’s not going to eat again. Am making lunch and praying that she will. Is this normal? 
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teecee
Yes it’s normal. You are challenging the ED head on so it will try to scare you. Reset and start again for the next meal. We have learn to become tougher than ED by Not fearing it. Try to use compassionate soft but firm and assertive language. Short punchy mantras help. “Eat the pasta please” “I will keep you safe - it’s safe to eat” “I love you, trust me” ..... your voice needs to be heard over the screaming voice in her head convincing her that food is poison. 
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LaraB
Yes unfortunately so. I know it is so hard. You are not going to make her happy now. She is really sad and distressed. You just need to keep going with the meals and snacks, and do your very best to not let her emotions throw you off-track. You can say things like “I know this is hard for you love, I love you and now have another bite.” There is no easy way through. Xxxx
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teecee
By requiring the food to be eaten (as opposed to asking) and presenting it you are doing the right thing. Some have had to stay there hours like you. This will not last for ever....you are doing life saving work and half a snack is fantastic. If you are having these battles make sure what you are battling over is calorie dense. No point in having a two hour standoff for a carrot if you can avoid that. Xx
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LaraB
And yes certainly my D had panic attacks. 
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Torie
It really helped me to think of ED as a separate entity - one that lies and cheats and tries to steal away our kids.  When my d said she didn't want to get better, I thought, "That is ED; I need to ignore that."  Or, rather, acknowledge the distress and then change the subject: "I'm sorry it is so hard.  Do you know where the dog's leash is?"

In the Torie household, ED had a bizarre hatred of milk.  So I knew that that was something my d really needed.  

I think ED ONLY lies and never speaks the truth.

I realize that this sounds crazy - that's a really unfortunate aspect of the battle.  It took me a while to join the forum because everyone here sounded a bit ... you know.  But in the end, the advice I received here was spot on and is what helped me drag my d back to health despite her (read: ED's) insistence that she would never get better, did not want to get better, etc. etc. etc.

It is a long and terrible battle.  May strength be with you. xx

-Torie
"We are angels of hope, of healing, and of light. Darkness flees from us." -YP 
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Hope42019
My D had panic attacks and we had meals and snacks that lasted hours. Every time you get her to eat more and more you are getting closer to getting your daughter back. Tolerating the distress is the hard so if you have someone to help you with refeeding it is good to tag in and out and take breaks so you can bring the calm that will help her. It was so helpful to me to separate ED from my daughter. ED was taking my daughter hostage and it was up to me and my husband to get her to eat to free her from this disease. I recall my D saying, “this is who I am now and you just have to accept that!” Unfortunately, it takes a long time so take one day at a time and you will see progress over time. Keep pushing. Keep feeding! 
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Phinnc
This is my first post and I am 1 year into this battle.and making real progress. The real fight started in October 2019.when finally someone listened to us after.6 doctor visits and daughter was hospitalised with low heart rate. Daughter had.dropped to 5 stone 10 lbs, she is 15 years old and 5.ft 3 inches.

We have had so many battles, not so much about eating the last mouthful but being.open to eating what we deem to be necessary as she wanted more input. We have fought,.screamed, shouted and cried for months but continued.to pick ourselves up, reset and start again. 

Things are so much easier now as she has put on 13 kgs and.95% weight restored and her moods are.so.much better, most of the time, after all she is still a teenager.

My advice is to separate daughter and illness, spent get caught up in arguments about nonsense.when it is ED talking. Reset daily and start again especially when the day before was a bad one.

Our.progress.really started when.my partner took 2.months off.work
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