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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My d is just beginning treatment for her ED. I don't know what I'm doing and I'm fearful of being more harmful than helpful. I'm totally at a loss. What are the most important things I need to know as our family heads down this road together?
Dear hermom,

Please do not be fearful. Read around this forum & on the F.E.A.S.T website. The four (4) family guide books will help alot. Also if you get a copy of Throwing Star Fish Across The Sea written by two mums from this forum & available from Amazon.

Here is the link

Welcome here
ED Dad
Welcome, so sorry that you have had to find your way here, but great that you have done so. It is frightening with a new diagnosis of ED in the family. As Aussieed has already said, arm yourself with knowledge. It is a very powerful thing. Knowing that much of what is happening is beyond your D's control and that she needs you to help her to get things back on track is so important. You don't mention the age of your D or where you are. The resources available to you and what treatment she will get varies the world over but you can be pretty sure that someone here has an idea of what you are dealing with and how to get help. 
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.
Hi hermom - I guess kind of by definition, we've all been where you are.  So we understand how overwhelming it is, and confusing and scary and all the rest.

Here's the most important thing I learned from this forum: The only thing that really matters is that your d eats enough calories (and especially, plenty of fats) to regain the weight she has lost.  All of it.

And here are a few things that don't really matter:  If she yells horrible things at you, if she doesn't want to recover, if if she needs to miss school.

Oh yeah, two other things that matter: 1) Take care of yourself, and 2) Always remember that it does get better.  (Even if it gets worse first.)

Please feel free to ask all the questions you like.

Hang in there. xx

"We are angels of hope, of healing, and of light. Darkness flees from us." -YP 
Welcome, hermom - but sorry that you even find yourself here!  Would back up everything the previous replies say, and add that the 3 things that have helped us most are:

a) it's not your fault or your d's fault that she has an ED - that really helps us disconnect the ED from our d; 

b) Eva Musby's book is great for ideas on practical support on re-feeding at home when you're in the firing line;

and c) a couple of quotes I picked up from this forum: 'if you get flak, you're over the target' and 'feedback not failure'.

Keep coming back to the forum for advice, ideas, support, listening ears...

Thanks everyone. Basically stayed up all night reading everything I could. My d is in her first year of uni, living away from home for the first time. I would say she has restrictive anorexia nervous but the list of foods she will eat is getting smaller and smaller. She is highly intelligent and being successful at school is a huge part of her identity but I fear we are going to have to bring her home for the next semester until she can start getting well. This will devastate her. Right now, it is extremely hard to see any light at the end of the tunnel. I don't know how this became our life. Looking back, we should have seen the signs and, although I know I shouldn't, I have tremendous guilt over that.
hermom wrote:
I don't know how this became our life.

Sucks, doesn't it?  

I thought we were pretty much home free on the parenting and then - BAM - hello, AN.  Welcome to the Twilight Zone.  

Sounds like your d has some of the classic personality traits - smart and high achieving academically - which can make it particularly baffling how they can be absolutely 100% irrational when it comes to eating.  Luckily, taking a gap year is a lot more common than it used to be, which can help our kids feel less out of step if they need to take a semester or year off school.  By chance, does your d have any friends who have made that choice?

This video by forum member Eva Musby was a huge help to me in the early days, partly because it gave me practical advice about what to say and not say (which you might not need just yet) but also because it really helped me understand my d's "altered state." 

It's great that you are reading reading reading.  It takes a lot of that to understand this vile illness even a little. xx


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

Hi Hermom and just a couple of things:

 ...it is extremely hard to see any light at the end of the tunnel. I don't know how this became our life. Looking back, we should have seen the signs and, although I know I shouldn't, I have tremendous guilt over that. 

I feels there is no light but many can testify there is.  Taking early and full control of re-feeding is very important.  Can also highly recommend Dr's Lock & Le Grange, "Help your Teenager beat an Eating Disorder" available on Amazon in most countries.  This will help you understand some of the steps required for re-feeding in addition to support from caregivers here, who have travelled through to the end of the seemingly long tunnel with no light, with success. 

Many feel we should have seen the signs; how could we have known then?  No guilt as how really do you know this beast called ED?  

At the early stage of my D's diagnosis of anorexia nervosa (AN) I felt very fortunate to have learned of FEAST/ATDT and thank goodness for that.  It is a long haul, many take the "Life stops until you eat" approach in order to prevent the ED from becoming entrenched.  

So happy you found ATDT and at the same time, so very sorry you had to find us in the first place. 

What Parents Can Do


Our mantra: "Life Stops until you Eat!".  Full recovery is possible; step by step; bite by bite. (D diagnosed at age 15, full w/r obtained one year later, maintained and in full recovery since May 2012)
Hi Hermom,

I wanted to respond since we found ourselves in the exact same situation you are now facing, one year ago. I could have written your last post word for word.

My d. was also in her first year of university. I also did not see the signs and understand how serious it really was and felt very guilty about it. I did not know what to do nor did I know much about anorexia. But know that your guilt can translate into action and that one of the hallmarks of the ED is secrecy and bringing things out in the open is the first step.

What we did: We brought her home and she went into treatment. Now, one year later, she has come really far from where she was a year ago. Things are not perfect but they are much better. She eats. She is not underweight. She has therapeutic tools to fight the voices in her head telling her to restrict. She has a social life and is about to successfully complete a semester of university as a visiting student while commuting and living at home and allowing herself to be supported by her team and family. She is more open about what happened to her and voices a desire to recover and has worked hard on that. She looks beautiful. She is again excelling at school. We are starting to feel hopeful again although we are not out of the woods yet and remain vigilant. She is currently 5 lbs underneath her range and we are working hard to get her back up there with her participation.

One year ago she was seriously underweight, was eating no more than 400 calories a day, her heart rate falling, electrolytes out of balance, was self harming, over exercising and purging. She was no longer able to function in her life, had to leave university before completing her first semester, and was having suicidal ideations. 

You daughter's health is the most important thing. In the scheme of things, in her future, it will not matter if she has taken time off. But the eating disorder will remain a problem if she does not take the time to get well now. 

This is what I worked on to help her: 
First and most importantly I researched treatment programs and modalities and made decisions about what would be best for her and how we could best support her as a family. If you go to the part of the ATDT website which has provider reviews you can let us know where you live and maybe experienced parents in your country/area can chime in with suggestions about treatment providers. That part of the website is private, members only. We got her into an excellent residential program and she was there for 3 months. She was weight restored. The she went into a PHP program for a month, and an IOP for 6 weeks. She did an intensive course of DBT. She is on a low dose of a SSRI. Since graduating from the more intensive treatment she has had a team consisting of a therapist, a nutritionist and an MD to monitor her. She also had appointments with a FBT therapist. In addition the FBT therapist coached me privately to support eating at home. I read every book I could get my hands on and read posts on ATDT to see what other parents had tried and what seemed to work for their kids. I also made sure that she was on a medical leave from her college and tried to keep her options open for her so that when she is better she will be able to resume her life. I took some time off from work and worked at home to close up the loopholes with her meals when I saw that she lost some weight after leaving the IOP, so that we could help her get well. I battled and cried and was supportive and compassionate and was fearful and it has been the fight of my life, especially since there is so much ambivalence on the part of the sufferer during treatment. I won't sugar coat it. It is one of the worst things ever. Sometimes my daughter fought me and was very uncooperative, even hateful. She threw food at me. That is part of the illness. I changed my parenting style from my former permissive loosey goosey and touchy feely parenting which supported my d's independence, to instead having firm limits about behavior and expectations about eating and tightening up supervision.

There are some excellent threads on this board you can search about: 
• How you can set a weight for weight restoration and understand what your d. really needs to weigh based on her historic growth charts.
• Small footprint, High calorie recipes
• Ideas about how to get your d. to eat and how families have supported and helped achieve weight restoration in their family member.
• Which therapies are evidence based.

If your d. is a good student and wants to go to university, that can be a powerful motivator for her to want to get well. Don't hesitate to use it. 

I hope that things will go well for your daughter. Let us know how things are progressing.


Hi Hermon, Please don't feel guilty that you didn't recognise the eating disorder for what it was in those early days. I imagine it was the same with many of us here on this forum, me included. It can take a while for the penny to drop - with us it was even more tricky as our child is a boy and we had no idea that boys got eating disorders!!

You will find some fantastic support and assistance on this forum. For us, it was a lifesaver. I joined back in early 2010 and have made some fabulous friends here, some of whom I've been lucky enough to meet with in person.

The good news is that my son is now recovered which I hope will show you that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. But until you get there, please keep coming back here. You can tell us anything, you can vent to your heart's content, you can yell and scream and you will always find parents who rush to the rescue with sound advice and support. And the great thing is that this forum is global, so even if you need someone to vent to during the night, there is usually someone around!

Best wishes.
Bev Mattocks, mother of 24-year old male DX with RAN 2009, now recovered. Joined this forum in 2010 - it was a lifesaver.