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.

Join these conversations already in progress:
• Road To Recovery - Stories of Hope
• Events for Parents and Caregivers Around the World
• Free F.E.A.S.T Conference Videos

Visit the F.E.A.S.T website for information and support.

If you need help using the forum please reach out to one of the moderators (listed below), or email us at bronwen@feast-ed.org.

Need to talk with another parent? F.E.A.S.T. parents offer peer support via:

Tays_mom
Hi everyone, I'm new here.
My daughter is 11. She has not been diagnosed with AN, or even an ED. However, over the past year, she's become increasingly focused on her weight. To the point that she completely dreads going to the doctor because they will weigh her. Last year in school, they were doing health screening and she had a panic attack because she thought they were going to weigh her (they weren't). She is not specifically underweight (so, again, I don't believe she has AN yet), nor is she overweight. I will say that she used to probably be a little more heavy than she is now., but she is fairly thin now.
However, I've been noticing her taking smaller portions and wanting to exercise for extended periods of time lately. She plays volleyball, and is very active... no problem there, just putting that out there so you have a good understanding of where we are at.
A few days ago she came to me and wanted to talk to me about something, but then kept getting cold feet and not wanting to discuss it. Finally, after some gentle prodding on my part, she said she thinks she may have an eating disorder. Evidently she had been concerned and took an online assessment herself.
Again, I feel she is at a healthy, fit weight right now.
She currently weighs approximately 115 lbs and is 5'2". She's very athletic, but feels she is fat. Her tummy is not fat, but you can't see her abs super easily either. She exercises about 1-2hrs/day, is super smart, has a very competitive personality. and is a perfectionist in school. She mostly eats healthy foods, and gets upset if I fix pasta or potatoes for dinner, but will occasionally ask for pizza or something sweet like ice cream. So, again, I don't think we're in a crisis situation, but I want to try and get her help and avoid it becoming an even bigger issue. Since she told me she needs help, I'm inclined to be more concerned. I was trying to focus just on staying fit, eating healthy, etc. But she may need more support than that.
I don’t believe she is purging at this point, but it’s possible.

Is there anything I can do now to help her avoid having it develop into an issue. If you could go back in time, what would you have done differently that might have avoided or prevented your child’s ED?

A note on our family: I’m a single mother by choice. No father in the picture, I used a stern donor to get pregnant. I have three 11 year old triplet daughters. The other two haven’t exhibited any signs of an ED. We live in Arizona.

Thanks in advance for any advice or help you can offer.
Quote
OneToughMomma
Welcome, Tays_mom,

I'm sorry you are here, but this is the best place for you right now.

You ask how you can prevent your d developing an issue. She exercises up to 2 hours each day, is afraid to be weighed, is eating smaller portions, and gets upset when you serve certain foods. I'm afraid it sounds like she already has one, but you've caught it early.

My d was also sick at that age, and I often reflect on what I could have done differently.

Firstly, I would get her to a doctor to get checked out. Here is a list of FEAST links to info that you could take to your GP or paediatrician.  It's really important that she be medically checked, even if she doesn't appear to have lost much weight.  Before you go, it would be helpful to work out her historic growth curve.  If you plot her weight on a chart, you can see clearly what is happening.  

Secondly, if I could do it over again, I would treat this illness aggressively and consistently.  We pussy-footed around for years because we didn't really understand the disease.  Ds doctors told us that she didn't really have an ED, and that all she needed was to gain a bit of weight.  We'd get her weight up, she'd grow, and then she'd get sick and we'd start again.  In retrospect we should have sustained full nutrition, no exercise, and high supervision.  We should not have ever let up on the weight gain.  Children should gain consistently until they reach their mid twenties.

Thirdly, I would have immediately come here (like you did!) and followed the advice of the wise parents who have fought the same battles. It took us 8 years to find ATDT and evidence-based care.  All that suffering, time and money wasted.  Our poor d could have been spared so much.

Please know you cannot 'prevent' this disease.  Eating disorders are 80% genetic in origin.  If your poor d has an ED, she was always going to get sick.  

You seem like a very smart woman.  You've found your way here so quickly, and are willing to ask for help. She's lucky she's got you to help her get well.

We can help, too.

Sending a big cyber hug,

xoOTM


D in and out of EDNOS since age 8. dx RAN 2013. WR Aug '14. Graduated FBT June 2015 at 18 yrs old. [thumb]
Quote
Warrior1
Hi Tays mom,

Sorry you are here it does sound like you D has an eating disorder. My D’s AN was caught quickly. In hind sight with the knowledge I know now, I would have started refeeding immediately and not have waited until I got the diagnosis. We waited theee weeks to get a diagnosis and in that time AN rapidly took hold, a huge amount of restriction occurred and she lost weight rapidly. It is positive though that your D is aware that she may have a problem. Please make an appointment as soon as you can, Research FBT and refeeding and keep posting on here, there are many knowledgeable parents who can guide you too the right resources and help you overcome challenges. Good luck xx
Quote
O2relax
Hi and welcome
I picked a problem with my now fully an d in February went to special interest eating disorder gp and counsellor but we didn’t start fbt soon enough. Ended up in IP in May. If I had my time again I would forbid extra exercise volley ball match and training and that is all no extras. I would ensure 3 good meals a day and 3 snacks. I would regularly serve ice cream, pizza, pasta and other foods that are likely to turn into fear foods. I would have a rule what you are served you eat no excuses. We slipped into restriction first no fizzy drink, then vegetarian and I let it happen. Don’t compromise on what she eats keep it as normal as possible. And get support,. All the best
Quote
Foodsupport_AUS
Welcome to the forum. It sounds as though you have come to the right place. As others have said, it sounds as though you already have a problem. Eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes. You don't have to be underweight to have an ED. One of the commonest reasons for delay in diagnosis for some is the misconception that absolute weight is important for diagnosis. Children should not lose weight, their weight should continue to increase over their growing years even though it will be in fits and spurts. Your daughter is concerned. Many times our kids don't know they are sick but if she is worried she is unwell I suspect their really is a problem. Excessive exercise, anxiety around food and weight, perfectionism sound like there is good reason for concern. Have you seen this video 
D diagnosed restrictive AN June 2010 age 13. Mostly recovered 10 years later.  Treatment: multiple hospitalisations and individual and family therapy.
Quote
Hibiscus
Hi Tays Mum, your post rang my alarm bells. my daughter was not greatly underweight but has restrictive anorexia and it escalates fast. She never had the ‘skeletal’ anorexic look but lost a lot of weight. As it was developing she would eat treats as well but restricted to ‘ afford’ them. Most 11 year olds wouldn’t even think about this so if your d has said she thinks she may have it please take her seriously and act fast. It would be a serious mistake to not act now and get this checked out as this disease gets them in its grip. Follow above advice, get to dr review, ask school to watch and see if she is eating lunch and recess. Limiting or tossing lunch and recess was how my d started then started wanting less dinner and eventually she couldn’t eat. My advice is don’t delay. Increase food immediately, see go and check with school. God speed. You are on to this.
We will be here for you.
Quote
deenl
Hi Tays_mom and welcome to the forum,

I regret that I didn't insist on our son eating the same as the rest of the family sooner. I was afraid of making a mountain out of a molehill. Boy, was I wrong [bawl]

I think this website can help clarify areas of concern and you can print it off to bring to the doctor.

This website
 is great for putting in all the info you have on height/weight. I can visually clarify if your daughters weight and height are going down or reaching a plateau. Kids should be growing and gaining all through their teen years. Looking back (ah, hindsight) one of the strongest, most concrete signs among all the chaos was the slowing of weight and growth. 

You are doing great in wanting to make supportive changes sooner rather than later.

Warm wishes,

D
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.
Quote
HopeNZ
Hello and welcome from me too.

One thing I would do differently is to not put such blind trust in the GP! We had moved to a new town and did not know our new GP well. When I first expressed my concerns, she seemed to take me seriously. However, after seeing my d on her own she prevaricated. She thought my d may possibly be developing an eating disorder but, based on my d’s answers to her questions, she was not there yet. For several weeks she sent my d for blood tests while waiting for my d to be ready to ask for help. I finally insisted on a referral, but by then my d was extremely ill and was hospitalised almost immediately.

I’m so sorry you find yourself in this situation. I hope we can help you and your d through. The wise and generous folk on this forum really saved our bacon (and continue to do so).

X
Quote
ValentinaGermania
Hi Tays_mom,
a very warm welcom from Germany in this forum nobody wants to be member of. It is great that you found us here and you have a very good mum instinct that there is something going on.

"Is there anything I can do now to help her avoid having it develop into an issue."
To be honest, all my alarm bells rang reading your post and I need to say I fear that there is already an issue.
Kids do not need to be severly underweight to have an RAN. All things you write about her fear of being weight, about eating "healthy food", increasing exercise and eating less than before are signals that point to an ED.

"If you could go back in time, what would you have done differently that might have avoided or prevented your child’s ED?"
I could write a long list about that but to make it short:
I wish I would have catched it earlier and not lost so much time with waiting for some change.
I wish I would have joined in here at least one year earlier so I could have avoided IP.
I wish I would have changed my parenting sooner and not let my d decide to ruin her life.

The problem will be that she is not severly underweight at the moment and you might not get much help from pediatritian or GP because of that.
First aid will be to get her to normal meals again. Serve her 3 meals and 2-3 snacks so that her blood sugar level is constant through the day. Control her exercising. If it is normal, she can do it as long as she is eating enough. If she is losing weight or the exercise is ED-driven to burn calories, it has to stop.
Forget all that you learned about healthy eating. There is no unhealthy food, it is all a question of amounts. She needs to eat everything she ate before and that a normal kid would eat, including sweets, pizza, burgers and pasta. No veganism, no vegetarism. You decide, you cook and you serve. Would your mother have asked you at age 11 what you want to eat? Would your grandma have asked your mother at that age? They would have cooked, the kids would have fallen into the kitchen, eaten what is on the table and they would have been out in 15 minutes. We discuss too much things with kids in these days... yesterday I heard a father discuss with his about 3 year old son if he would like to wear a bike helmet or not. I would not discuss that. "You want to ride that bike? So put on that helmet or you will not ride this bike."

You can help her to learn to eat again. Read as much as you can here and start to change your parenting and to require her to eat what you serve. Best would be to prepare the plates for all of you in the kitchen and just serve them for all. If someone wants to have a second, no problem, but that is the minimum amount that needs to be eaten for all.

Come here and learn and ask and vent if needed. I wish I would have joined in in your state.
Tina72


Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
Quote
Mamaroo
If only I had Eva Musby's book at the very beginning, my d would not have needed ip or an ng tube. Here is her website:

https://anorexiafamily.com

And her excellent videos:



D became obsessed with exercise at age 9 and started eating 'healthy' at age 9.5. Restricting couple of months later. IP for 2 weeks at age 10. Slowly refed for months on Ensures alone, followed by swap over with food at a snails pace. WR after a year at age 11 in March 2017. View my recipes on my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKLW6A6sDO3ZDq8npNm8_ww
Quote
Torie
tina72 wrote:
The problem will be that she is not severly underweight at the moment and you might not get much help from pediatritian or GP because of that.


So true.  In fact, many here (raises hand) have found professional "help" that was worse than no help at all.  I would encourage you to skip the ped or GP as first step and have her evaluated by one of the top ED centers - Kartini Clinic on the west coast and CHOP on the east coast, ERC in Denver are a few top names.  The distance is not nearly as important as it might seem, because getting a correct diagnosis is HUGE.  

Please feel free to ask all the questions you like, and please keep us posted. xx

-Torie
"We are angels of hope, of healing, and of light. Darkness flees from us." -YP 
Quote
debra18
Maybe she is hearing a voice or having bad thoughts and that is why she is coming to you that she is having a problem. My daughter told me she was having bad thoughts but wouldn't tell me what they were. It took another two weeks to realize she wasn't eating and 4 more weeks to figure out what to do. In that time she lost a lot of weight and it has taken a year to gain back the weight she needed to gain plus the amount she was supposed to gain in the year. Yes, address concerns with pediatrician but don't be surprised if they don't know anything. Have school look if she is eating lunches. Insist on eating 6 times a day. Monitor weight. Insist on eating all of the foods she used to eat. No exercise. Watch for standing and pacing. Make sure she is drinking the right amount of water. My daughter was drinking very little water and sometimes kids drink too much water. Ask all of the questions you need.
Quote
teecee
A warm welcome from the north of England. Sorry you find yourself here.
I would echo that I think there are warning signs/red flags in your post. It is the fact that she is restricting nutrients that the body needs that is the issue and can very quickly send them ‘down the rabbit hole.’
Even though my RAN D was fairly compliant and wanting help we still got huge resistance when we began treating her by refeeding 3 x snacks and 3 x meals a day. This is not always the case (them being compliant/asking for help). The worst symptoms came out during this refeeding process so you may not realise that she has a real problem until you start addressing it and then you will be confused as I was because I couldn’t understand if she had asked for help why was she so resistant now!
Eva MUSBY’s book and YouTube video as litterly saved us.
My D was very athletic...none of our friends/family could believe she was AN and even expressed that she ‘ didn’t look anorexic’.
Quote
Enn

Hi there, I welcome you here too.
I think you have a gut feeling as to what is wrong with your D and that is why you are here. I say follow your gut. It led you here, you asked us the questions and you have a resounding YES THIS LOOKS LIKE ED! I am so sorry. Get feeding yesterday.

When you say"She currently weighs approximately 115 lbs and is 5'2". She's very athletic, but feels she is fat. Her tummy is not fat, but you can't see her abs super easily either. She exercises about 1-2hrs/day, is super smart, has a very competitive personality. and is a perfectionist in school. She mostly eats healthy foods, and gets upset if I fix pasta or potatoes for dinner"

Many of our kids were the same, very intelligent, athletic, and perfectionistic these are common traits. She should not be exercising 1-2 hr per day. This is exercise compulsion and it is hard to fix. My D stood all the time and it was hard to extinguish. There are many threads on exercise compulsion. Many of us had "warning signs" and it was hard to figure it out until the s@#t hit the proverbial fan.
You also say"She is not specifically underweight (so, again, I don't believe she has AN yet), nor is she overweight. I will say that she used to probably be a little more heavy than she is now., but she is fairly thin now." It is about the brain and then the body follows. The brain is not well and needs nutrition ie more nutrition now.
Go to the doctor, and yes be prepared that they may not think anything is wrong physically, but it is in her head, both literally and figuratively, "ED is in her head".

She herself told you she is worried, please act now.
We are here for you no matter what. Please ask all the questions you have.

There is always someone here that has really been there.
XXX


Food+more food+time+love+good professional help+ ATDT=healing--->recovery(---> life without ED)

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)
Quote
kazi67
If only we could turn back time what we would do differently
In my d experience with this vile illness that we did catch early but then I believe we were let down early on by the so called professionals ie: GP, Dietician and physc (who were not ED specialised)
So we got lots of conflicting and just plain wrong advise
So if we were able to turn back time I would make sure my GP referred on for assesment at an ED specialised clinic
If you can’t do this take note of all the information you can get on this forum and the FEAST site
You can most definately stop this from turning into a full blown eating disorder
The more weight your d looses the more the ED will take over her mind/thoughts
I notice you say you try to get your d to eat “healthy”
My d started off wanting to be “healthy” and like your d was very active
I think you need to look more at NORMAL food intake if she is exersizing 2/3 hours a day she needs to eat NORMALLY and potatoes and pasta is normal she is also growing (well into her 20’s) so there should be no restricting of these foods, my d also wanted to eat “vegetarian” and so restricted meats
Kids need all the food groups including junk food too
I think we are so worried about the obesity that we don’t think for one minute our kid is going to get anorexia and are happy to see them trying to be “healthy”
So that is a big red flag I can see and relate to in our d story
My d also approached me worried that she was having strange thoughts/feelings around food and eating
I had no clue on anorexia even though my d being a dancer I now know it’s something I probably should of been aware of
Food is their medicine
Make sure your d eats 3 normal meals and 3 normal snacks a day
My d now understands this is what she HAS to do everyday like a asthmatic needs their ventolin
Even without a diagnosis you can start to do this
Beware that if your d does have anorexia this illness makes them lie and is very sneaky
It took me a very long time to work this out (as my d never lied to me before she became ill) so if you don’t see the food go in it hasn’t
Supervise closely all food going in
If you suspect purging make your d go to toilet before her meals/snacks and stay with her for an hour after
If your d refuses to eat - life stops
My mantra was and still is eat first then ...............insert whatever will motivate your d to eat
These are the things I would do, and I did but my d had a relapse as the illness tricked me into thinking she was better
Then we had a hellish 4 months hospital stay which had I known all of the above could of been avoided
I hope this helps
Quote
parker12
Greetings. I have a son who has AN and also live in Arizona. Not sure what part of AZ you live in, but we get help from A New Beginning in Scottsdale. Great team of professionals who deal with ED and anxiety. They are wonderful at supporting you and your family. They offer FBT. However, what I have learned from other families experiences shared on this forum has been priceless and saved my son’s life!

My advice is to do your research. Read Laura Collins and Eva Musby’s books. Trust your instincts and don’t wait to get your daughter help!

Take care!
Quote
4kgc
I agree with everything posted in the earlier comments above. My D’s story sounds much like yours....and now after 5 months fully weight restored I am still discovering day by day the depths to which the ED was affecting her before we even saw ANY weight loss or external change in her body shape. That preoccupation with eating ‘healthy,’ in particular, and especially her coming to tell you that all she thinks about is food. I remember the terror in my D’s eyes and on her face the night she told me that she thinks about food and her weight/body ‘99% of the time’ and couldn’t make it stop even though she wanted it to.

In hindsight, the number one thing I wish I had done differently is take a leave of absence from work to tackle the ED head on, It is incredibly draining and taxing...and as a single mom you will be the one on duty 24/7. Of course being able to arrange a leave will likely also be harder financially as a single parent...but if there is any way at all to get even a couple of weeks cleared of other responsibilities, I believe it will be a huge benefit.

I also want to emphasize that your D is very very likely to get much worse emotionally before she gets better. Even though she knows she has a problem and wants help, the ED will make her miserable as you refeed. She will swear that she DOESN’T need help and that YOU are the problem and the one causing her misery by insisting that she eat. This is not true. Have confidence in what you already know to be true. She is not thinking rationally about food and eating. Have compassion for her plight and yet firmly and lovingly insist that she eat what you serve her. Don’t waver or panic or crumble or get sucked into an emotional battle when she says she can’t eat...just stay the course.

And when you DO waver, panic, crumble and get sucked in (you are human too and this is HARD!), don’t dwell on it. Just get as much emotional help and support as you can for yourself (reading posts in this forum is great, even when you don’t have the energy to reply or write posts yourself!) and then get back at it. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. When things go ‘wrong,’ look at them as feedback opportunities and make adjustments if you see a way to do so...and keep going.
Quote
Tays_mom

Thank you so much everyone. We had a long talk last night and she seemed fairly receptive to me.
Also, when she got home from volleyball yesterday afternoon she walked in stating she was starving and proceeded to pour herself a big bowl of cereal... and she ate it all.
She had taken a 1/2 avocado sandwich and grapefruit pouch to school for lunch, and apparently the grapefruit exploded making her sandwich soggy. So her sisters and some of her friends shared their lunches with her.
We talked about seeking an evaluation and just maintaining her weight, not trying to lose anymore. I explained why, with nutrients needed for growth, strength for sports, brain function in school, etc.
She seems to be on board with all that, including agreeing to no additional exercise outside of volleyball. And she was possibly going to go and talk to the school counseler today.
I also ordered the Eva Musby book, as well as this workbook for my daughter to use:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1572246073/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

And Parker12, A New Beginning is one of the groups I talked to yesterday. They're very close to us and is the group I plan to use for an evaluation/therapy if we need it. Thanks for posting! I had already looked at their website, and spoken to them, but love that you recommend it too, as wasn't sure what I should be looking for in a treatment team. But both myself and my daughter looked over their website and felt good about them.

Quote
Mamaroo
Tays_mom wrote:

We talked about seeking an evaluation and just maintaining her weight, not trying to lose anymore. I explained why, with nutrients needed for growth, strength for sports, brain function in school, etc.



It is great that your d could speak to you about her concerns and that she is receptive to seek an evaluation. When we were looking for a treatment team, our local FBT specialist said that children should be gaining weight and that even just maintaining their weight was seen as a problem. Your d's weight is between the 90-95% percentile, and her height is just above the 95%, which is the same as my d (I've attached the chart for you). If she keeps on maintaining for 6 months she would fall below the 90% curve for weight, which could be concerning. As you can see from the chart, children need to gain weight until their 20s. 

D became obsessed with exercise at age 9 and started eating 'healthy' at age 9.5. Restricting couple of months later. IP for 2 weeks at age 10. Slowly refed for months on Ensures alone, followed by swap over with food at a snails pace. WR after a year at age 11 in March 2017. View my recipes on my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKLW6A6sDO3ZDq8npNm8_ww
Quote
ValentinaGermania
I thought about the same. Please do not tell her she will be allowed to maintain her weight because that is not realistic. She might grow some inches and then you need to set a new target weight. It is not possible to maintain weight for a still growing child.
Tina72
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
Quote
jsrachels
You are an amazing mom and looks like you caught it early.  My 9 year old son had been restricting for a couple month before I even realized that it was serious and we spent 2 months in a hospital.  So good job in there.   If I knew then what I know now, I would have never allowed the reduction in calories (a little here, a little there).  Looking back I feel so stupid.   But, at the same time. you don't know what you don't know.  Never again.  It's been over 2 year since he was weight restored and, while it's not perfect, I know he will eat enough even when I'm not there.  When I am there, I still push for more (Ensure Plus at snack time!). Like me, he is naturally skinny and anything extra i can get in him is just a bonus.  Trust your gut.  You know what a healthy diet looks like and you know what she needs.  Make sure she eats what you feed her.
Quote
hopingforthebest
Hi, we DID catch it early. Super important and you are so wise to be asking for help now! Thankfully, I discovered this forum right away, read as much as I could on the FEAST website to educate myself and started re-feeding my d immediately. We then went to the five-day family intensive program at University of California San Diego to learn the skills of how to truly help our d get well. eatingdisorders.ucsd.edu That was in 2009. My d is fully recovered and living a happy life. (I just connected with the mom of the 9-year-old who was in our group at UCSD. She is completely healthy and ED-free, leaving for college and ready to fly!) Early intervention; in my opinion, is one of the vital pieces to beat EDs. Don’t waste time! You’re one smart mama!
Quote

        

WTadmin