F.E.A.S.T's Around The Dinner Table forum

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It was just suggested to me today that my 11 yo dd has an eating disorder.

Beginning last August, dd started complaining that her food wasn’t tasting right. After a month of this, we saw our primary dr. She said dd had a lot of drainage from allergies and that that would effect taste, so she prescribed an allergy med. A few months go by and it’s not improving but getting worse. So dr refers us to ent. Ent says her nasal passages and mouth are extremely dry and that’s the cause of food tasting differently and tells me dd needs to come off allergy med. Call pcp, and she refers us to a GI.

In August, she weighed 88 pounds. She now weighs 79 pounds. There was a long wait list to see a gi. In all that time, what she will eat becomes more limited. Basically she’s living off of chips, crackers, kix cereal, and grapes. She gets hungry, tries to eat, but nothing tastes right. She says the food doesn’t taste right because it doesn’t taste cooked. All of her favorites. And even though she wants to eat it, she’ll try it, but then starts gagging.

We finally saw the Gi today. First thing out of his mouth was that she has an eating disorder. I assure him she doesn’t. I tell him she has no issues with her body. That she’s not not eating because she’s trying to lose weight or because she thinks she’s fat. Dr then tells me it does no good for me to be in denial and it will only do more harm for me to refuse to face the fact that she has an eating disorder. So I tell him, fine, if she has an eating disorder, what do we do. He referred us to the only local place (an hour and a half away) that treats children with eating disorders. But he did go ahead and do labs to check for celiac, food allergies, and thyroid panel.

If she has an eating disorder, I do want to face it. I just don’t know that she has one. And I don’t even know who to see for her to be evaluated for one.
Hi joysworld,

Welcome to ATDT, the club no one wants to join, although there are some truly hero families here. 

Your dr. has made a good suggestion, which would be to have her evaluated by an eating disorder specialist to see whether she does have an eating disorder. In the meantime the dr. has also done some tests which would indicate whether there is something else amiss.

But he did go ahead and do labs to check for celiac, food allergies, and thyroid panel. 

The big picture is that a child her age should be growing and gaining, not be losing weight. 

In August, she weighed 88 pounds. She now weighs 79 pounds. 

Here is link to a website that you can read through if you are concerned.


I'm sure some other parents of 11 year olds will be along soon. We cannot diagnose and are not doctors but you are doing the right thing by learning more and having her evaluated by professionals. In the meantime, try to increase her food intake and get her to eat more of a variety as best you can. 


Welcome to the forum. As Kali has said the most important part for your D is that she is fully assessed. Her weight loss is very concerning as children should never lose weight. 

We are not doctors, and cannot diagnose but it is worth looking up the possibility of a diagnosis of ARFID for your daughter. You don't have to have body image issues or have a desire to lose weight to have an eating disorder. There is information on eating disorders in the learning center. The GI doctor was referring to the fact that your D is not eating enough to continue gaining weight as 11 year olds should. The options are that there is a physical reason - eg. malabsorption for her weight loss, or excess metabolism or there is simply not enough going in. Even when this is due to lack of taste it is still an eating and nutrition issue. Other associations with ARFID can be things like fear of vomiting, fear of choking, preferring only certain food textures. 

I would also suggest as Kali has said, seeing what can be done to increase her intake. I am sure you have already tried, but it can be worth looking at the high calorie threads for some ideas about foods you may try. Supplements or liquids can be a good way of getting in more energy- thick shakes can be great. 

In terms of where to go for assessment perhaps you could let us know where you are. The terms you use make me think you are somewhere in the US. 
D diagnosed restrictive AN June 2010 age 13. Mostly recovered 10 years later.  Treatment: multiple hospitalisations and individual and family therapy.
My daughter was also 11 when she started restricting food. Now she is 12. She also didn't have weight issues and never thought she was fat. I didn't realize it at the time but she was also restricting water. She later told me that she felt like she was choking when she drank. I am refeeding her and she is doing much better. You need to get her on a schedule of eating enough food. You can offer choices that are equivalent such as a cup of milk or 2 cheese sticks. It worked for me to plan the meals in advance. When meal time came she ate whatever we discussed.
Hi, sorry that you've had to find yourself here, but you'll get fantastic advice and support, and the fact that you're questioning things at this stage is a great start.  

My daughter was diagnosed with anorexia at eight years. She went off the taste of one food after another, until there was just a handful of things she was willing to eat.  Our daughter did have a fear of getting fat.  However, it's worth mentioning that often the younger kids don't.  In the most recent version of the diagnostic classification DSM-5, neither fear of gaining weight nor body image distortion are essential requirements to get a diagnosis of anorexia.  

I hope that anorexia isn't what you're facing, but if it is then you are in the right place for help.  I agree with the recommendation of seeing an ED specialist. 

Feel free to ask any questions here. 

Best wishes
Hi joysworld,
a very warm welcom from Germany and sorry that you have to be here. It is great that you found us, you will get a lot of help here. This forum was a lifesaver for us.

Many ED patients, and especially the young ones, do not have body dismorphia and do not count calories and do not do that to lose weight.

AN is a brain disease cause by malnutrition. Is is genetic and the brain runs a "special ED program" once started (by losing some weight, no matter what cause).

If you can exclude any physical illness, from what you tell us I think it is an ED.

Read here in that forum as much as possible and see if there is a FBT specialist in your region. You can find them on the maudsley parents site.

AN is a life threatening, but treatable disease. FBT is the best therapy because it is proofed by many studies that it works.
You need to help her re-learn to eat normal again.

A great start for us was Eva Musbys book "Anorexia and other Eating Disorders: how to help your child eat well and be well: Practical solutions, compassionate communication tools and emotional support for parents of children and teenagers". If you are in Europe, she lives in Scotland and does skype-sessions to help parents get started.

Come here and ask your millions of questions you will have now. We were where you are then and we know what you talk about. We can help you.
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
Hi joysworld,

And welcome. My son could not eat enough to renourish him but getting the right diagnosis was very difficult. I found reading a lot helped me to recognise the issue we were dealing with. Kartini Clinic is a wonderful place that deals only with kids and teens who have difficulties of all sorts with getting enough nutrition. Eating disorders, of course, but also food phobias, fear of choking or vomiting, cancer treatment and failure to thrive. I learned much from reading their blog. It might be worth noting that they can do a review of your case as a second (and very expert) opinion.

Warm wishes,

2015 12yo son restricting but no body image issues, no fat phobia; lost weight IP! Oct 2015 home, no progress. Medical hosp to kick start recovery Feb 2016. Slowly gaining at home, seeing signs of our real kid.

May 2017 Hovering around WR. Mood great, mostly. Summer 2017 Happy, first trip away in years, food variety, begin socialising. Sept 2017, back to school FT first time in 2 years. 2018 growing so fast hard to keep pace with weight. 2020 Off to university, healthy and happy.
  • Swedish proverb: Love me when I least deserve it because that's when I need it most.
  • We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence Recovery, then, is not an act but a habit. Aristotle.
  • If the plan doesn't work, change the plan but never the goal.
  • We cannot control the wind but we can direct the sail.
Hello, and welcome.  I agree with all the great advice you have already received.

WHen my d was in the throes of AN, she said she really liked blueberries because they were the only thing that still tasted the way they are supposed to taste.  I read that low zinc levels can cause this type of thing so I started giving her a zinc supplement.  Since she was underweight and somewhat malnourished, I also gave her a good multivitamin, and the other thing I added was magnesium because ... can't remember for sure what magical powers magnesium is supposed to have.

Anyway, as the others have said, it is important for kids to gain weight every year instead of losing, so she needs to regain the weight she has lost and then she needs to keep gaining a little each year through the teen and young adult years as that is what is normal as bones get denser and organs continue to mature.

I wonder if you could add some fats into her diet (and keep her out of the kitchen while you do that).  If you can get her to eat soup, yogurt, rice, or smoothies, you can add in quite a bit of canola oil (rapeseed in UK) without changing the flavor or texture as long as you stir briskly and don't add too, too much.

Please feel free to ask all the questions you like. xx

"We are angels of hope, of healing, and of light. Darkness flees from us." -YP