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

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Hi I used this forum when my daughter was in recovery and I found it quite useful so now have come back after 5 years to seek more advice. My daughter is 21 and we are 5 years post hospitalisation from Anorexia. She is becoming more and more of a strong woman everyday. She is fit and healthy and eats a balanced diet. We still have days of anxiety and self doubt, she is still on anti anxiety medication for this. 
One of the major things that has been causing great issues is her digestive system. She is constantly bloated with wind and tummy pain and feels nauseous and tired. She takes probiotics and has tried other gut stabilisers. We have tried naturopaths and now been to doctor who thinks it is IBS. Hasn’t had any tests yet though.  This has been going on for many years now since her illness and she is finding it very difficult to feel good about herself when she feels so unwell. I wanted to ask if anyone else has found long term gut issues to be common after anorexia and what you have tried.  Many thanks
How long is she WR and without symptoms?
I just ask that because it really takes YEARS for the intestine system to work normal again. My d is 3 years in recovery and 2 years WR and 1 year without symptoms now and she is also still sometimes bloated after certain meals. Our GP said it takes normally up to 5 years to see that fade away.
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
It's great to hear that your daughter is living a good life, even though she has to manage anxiety at times.

This article is a few years old but it does indicate that gastrointestinal disorders are more common in people who have had an eating disorder. The 2019 book Sick Enough was written by the very ED experienced and well respected internal physician, Jennifer L Gaudiani about the medical complications and their treatment in people who have/have had an eating disorder. There is a whole chapter on Irritble Bowel and associated conditions so I guess it is pretty common.

My husband has a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome so maybe there is some genetic vulnerability there. Edited to add: It is very common to be referred to a dietician if IBS is diagnosed and to transfer to a low FODMAP diet. Dr. Gaudiani specifically mentions that this is not suitable for someone who has had an eating disorder. She says that the over-arching theme is holistic care, so good, consistent nutrition, rest, stress management techniques, regular self-care and getting your emotional needs met. She does list medication that she has found helpful as an addition to the above.

Hoping you find answers to this final piece of the ED puzzle.

Warm wishes,

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

May 2017 Hovering around WR. Mood great, mostly. Building up hour by hour at school after 18 months at home. Summer 2017 Happy, first trip away in years, food variety, begin socialising. Sept 2017, back to school FT first time in 2 years. [thumb] 2018 growing so fast hard to keep pace with weight
  • 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.
Gastric upset, irritability and bloating, IBS are much more common in those with ED. There is a great podcast here from Tabitha Farrar and Dr Jennifer Gaudiani discussing it. 
My D had a lot of problems early on in recovery. She still seems to have a bit of a sensitive stomach, with bloating at times. At the same time she is no longer bothered by it as she was. We are coming up to 10 years in. 
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.
Fantastic , thanks for your responses. I will have a look at both links provided. Interesting that you mentioned low fodmap as nor suitable for those who have ED as that is exactly what the doctor recommended.
Could it be a side effect of the medication? Does she take vitamins? I know iron pills are hard to digest. 
My d does not seem to have bowel issues per se, but she does suffer from nausea much more post AN than she did previously.  Just one more data point ... xx

"We are angels of hope, of healing, and of light. Darkness flees from us." -YP 
Ditto here. Lots of people nausea post ED. We have ruled out any physical cause. She had a 5 hour gastroparesis study and she doesnt have that either (and I've read all RAN do) even though she lost a lot of weight. I was scared to tell her it was "in her head" but ironically it is better now that she knows it is a mental manifestation. That does NOT mean it's not a real feeling but that she has had to do meditation, breathing, food pacing etc to manage it. I was scared without a medical cause but it actually has helped her to know she can "control" it to some extent.
My d had terrible reflux during her illness and for quite a few years during and post recovery. She had a gastroscopy which showed there was nothing wrong. I think the restricting messed up her digestive system. It has taken a long time but has finally resolved itself. Just occasionally, and usually when she is tired, she feels that she had to be a bit sick, as if her stomach is not emptying properly. 
It seems that long term restricting affects the digestive system in some way. My d did not have any bowel problems, just problems with her stomach.  Digestive problems are very common .

Believe you can and you're halfway there.
Theodore Roosevelt.
I can't believe I found this on this forum!!! I have been having something of a delayed mourning over this stupid illness. My daughter is already hitting the five year mark this year since she was diagnosed. She was weight restored for a couple of years, but her IBS was getting worse and worse, with her getting up in the middle of the night with the urge to poop. It was really getting to her, and to me, as a mom. The thing is that, we went down the getting certain foods out of the picture, which eventually lead her go down around 2 to 3 kilos, and you guessed it, ED started rearing it's ugly head again. She began cutting and started having crisis. I swear I couldn't imagine going down the rabbit hole again. So we started re-feeding, and I swear, in a week she was herself again. But I feel so sad about her GI issues, it really is a pain in the neck, because there are foods that seriously create horrible symptoms (burping with no end in sight, reflux, etc). The doctor already confirmed it's IBS, although I would like to get her checked out again after all this crazy Covid situation.

I feel sad that she can't have a normal life. And now I see that we can't create restriction of foods, or else she can't eat anything!! So, yeah, I have a similar situation and am absolutely frustrated with it.

So I’m jumping on this thread as my D is suffering from bloating. Is it something that natural remedies might resolve or is it just a case of wait it out? She’s been eating normally for a couple of months now with no restriction but is troubled by real bloating before bedtime for about 20mins. Not pleasant but don’t know what to try for the best. 

She was previously diagnosed with AN in March 18


I am sure you have seen this NHS advice already...