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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berry75
I am the mum of a 15 year old daughter diagnosed with anorexia about 5 months ago.At the time I was completely caught by Surprise. Weight concerns were never mentioned by my daughter,she and her twin have always been slim and we have always had a normal attitude to food.We were just dealing with my mums diagnosis of terminal ovarian cancer when my daughters issue was brought up to me by a concerned teacher at her school.I had noticed my daughter looking a little slimmer but she had been growing quickly,she had mentioned eating healthier so as to prevent her getting cancer in the future like nanny.Both of my girls have suffered from anxiety over their childhood so I just put it down to that.
We are now following a Maudsley based therapy,she is nearly weight restored,my biggest struggle has been reintroducing fear foods,donuts,chocolate, hot chips.Any tips on how often a fear food should be given.Every day?once a week?
Thanks.
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sk8r31
Welcome baci75, though sorry you have a need to be here.  Hoping you will find the peer support helpful, as well as the good evidence-based resources on the main FEAST site.  

It is such a steep learning curve regarding EDs, even a few months into dx; there is a lot to process and incorporate into your daily lives.

As I hope you realize by now, this is a brain-based illness, and not caused by parents or outside events, such as a family illness.  One of the triggers can be 'healthy eating' as it sounds like it may have been for your d, and for mine also.  Then at a certain point, that 'healthy eating' got out of control, and d slipped down the rabbit hole of ED.

There is no one 'right way' to reintroduce fear foods into your d's daily life.  For some, 'ripping the band aid off' is a strategy, and offering one or more fear foods daily, until it is no longer a huge problem.  For others, a 'laddering' approach may work best...starting with foods that cause the least fear, and building up to the more challenging items.  Or starting with smaller amounts of the most fearful items.  

This is where knowledge of your d can help to guide you.  And it may mean trial and error to see what works best.

In our case, we had a contract in place to help d with weight restoration.  She had a list of her 'top 10' fear foods (and it was quite a process for her to winnow this list down to only 10!).  Each day, one or more of the foods would be served.  When she could eat the 'fear food' without comment or difficulty at least 3 x in a row, we would cross it off the list.  When all 10 items were off the list, there was a reward given....something that was highly motivating for our d.  This definitely helped her; having an ultimate goal of going away to college a year following WR.

I'm sure others will be along shortly to offer suggestions and insight about what worked for them.

In the meanwhile, huge kudos on getting your d's weight up, and jumping on the illness as quickly as you have.  

Sending strength and support,
sk8r31
It is good to not only hope to be successful, but to expect it and accept it--Maya Angelou
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K63
Welcome baci75, well done on almost getting to weight restoration. We had been slowly introducing fear foods one a week but it was amazing how quickly a food if not eaten frequently became a fear food again. A few weeks ago my d told me she had written out a list of fear foods which she showed me we are introducing 2 to 3 each week now and it's working well but once introduced we need to keep having them. It probably works different for different people. Best of luck . I am reading eva musby s book How to help your child eat well and be well., I am finding it helpful .
Daughter started restricting in February 2014, tried re feeding at home hospital admission 4 1/2 months weight restored started restricting post discharge, back on meal plan full supervision weight restored april 2016. Starting to hand back responsibility for meals it's scary. 
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Torie
Hi bac75 - So sorry you needed to find us here. Also sorry about your mom. Wow - what a year!

I don't have anything to add to the good advice you've already received - just wanted to welcome you to the club no one wants to join. You've come to the right place.

Keep up the good work!

xx

-Torie
"We are angels of hope, of healing, and of light. Darkness flees from us." -YP 
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berry75
Ripping the bandaid off sounds like a good option,it's sounds strange but I am still scared of her reactions when she realizes she will be eating a fear food.She is so not herself,she looks at me with such hate,it breaks my heart.I know I need to toughen up,I made her a cup of tea the other day,something she had always loved but not had for a while,she has dropped so many treat foods I didn't realize tea had become one or even why.It was the two teaspoons of brown sugar in the tea she was worried about.She drank it after a minor meltdown but now all I can think is if tea was that hard how are hot chips going to go down.It didn't help that in our first week of fear foods ie a cup of tea and bag of popcorn that she had a kilo weight gain,her gains have been slow and steady.Now she blames the one bag of popcorn and cup of tea for gaining that kilo in a week.Ed thoughts make no sense that is the hardest thing,the lack of reason.Thank you for your advice I will keep giving regular fear foods and weather the storm that goes with them.
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sk8r31
Oh, it can be so hard to steel yourself against the ED reaction to meals & snacks, and introducing challenging foods...

I remember that 'pit in the stomach' feeling before many meals...and wondering how I was going to manage through the rages, nasty comments and hateful words...

If you can separate your d from her ED as much as is humanly possible, you may find it easier to cope through those difficult times.

It may also be helpful to listen/watch this Eva Musby meditation video, made specifically for parents to use either before or after a challenging meal with their kids.

And it is really important that you take good care of your own physical and mental well-being.  This illness can bring parents to their knees...it certainly did to me....and keeping yourself as healthy as is possible is key to managing for the long haul.  Walks, coffee with friends, a long bath...whatever can help you to cope.

Hang in there!  Sounds like you are doing really well!
It is good to not only hope to be successful, but to expect it and accept it--Maya Angelou
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evamusby_UK
Dear Berry, good on you for where you've come so far! About your question 
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Any tips on how often a fear food should be given.Every day?once a week? 
I have an opinion and experience (but no scientific justification).
My experience was that the a fear food should be repeated within a day or two or three, at least the 2nd exposure one. To not leave a bigger gap. After the 2nd or 3rd exposure, the gap can be a lot bigger -- I don't know, 10 days, a month.... 
I imagine it as rewiring the brain, like creating tracks for your skis in the snow. The tracks will fade if not gone over reasonably soon, and then you lose the benefit of the first piece of work through the snow. After a few goes the tracks are deep and that's where the skis will naturally go.

You know how they say, get back on the horse right away after a fall... Popular wisdom seems to back up the notion that if you leave it too long the fear builds up. Your D might dread the next time you give her a particular food, so don't leave it too long.

However, there are no hard and fast rules in this business, so experiment.

A tip also is to be transparent with your D about the process. So she understands that the horrible feelings she goes through with a fear food is money in the bank. That next times will be easier. That you are confident that this process works and is liberating. After a few fear foods she may see for herself how the fear reduces, so she'll know for herself how the process works. You can then remind her of her experience, when the next fear foods makes her lash out at you. It kind of worked for me...

Note, also that we just don't know whether it's best to go gradually up a fear ladder (e.g. starting with tiny tastes of a not-very-scary food and increasing portion size) or to "rip the bandaid" (give huge support for a pretty scary food to be eaten entirely). So you can experiment and draw your own conclusions with how it is for your D. With mine I gave random levels of difficulty, as otherwise she got to fear what was I going to give her next (something even more scary than what she'd just managed today?)

On a lighter note, but illustrative, I think, you and others may enjoy this video where a little dog is liberated of a fear using the same exposure principles. Dog training ("positive training", "operand conditioning", "clicker training") can teach us a lot about brain wiring! (OK, watching this again must now I'm thinking of all the reasons it's not that relevant to our youngsters, but....)






Eva Musby, mother, author, produces lots of resources for parents at https://anorexiafamily.com and on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/user/EvaMusby/playlists
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berry75
Thank you so much for your advice.I have read your book and it helped so much.I am trying another fear food tonight and trying to manage my own feelings of anxiety leading up to it.We saw the monster in full form the other day with hot chips and it was a scary sight.
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Colleen
It is scary, berry75!  Our job is to project confidence even when we are shaking inside.  Be sure to take good care of yourself.  Find some ways to pamper yourself.  This is yeoman's work.  You are doing GREAT!

My d hated me with the passion of a thousand burning suns during refeeding.  She loves me now, and she knows I will go to the mat for her.  Keep going!  You can do this!
Colleen in the great Pacific Northwest, USA

"What some call health, if purchased by perpetual anxiety about diet, isn't much better than tedious disease."
Alexander Pope, 1688-1744
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evamusby_UK
Dear Berry, yes, we parents get scared and like Colleen says, need good self-care, just as you're taking care of your D. And I guess for us it's about getting back on that horse too, and building up our confidence. Our children's reactions are variable, so I wish you an easier success tonight and a sense of hope. 
Eva Musby, mother, author, produces lots of resources for parents at https://anorexiafamily.com and on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/user/EvaMusby/playlists
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berry75
My dear mum was diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer 6 months before my daughter got sick.I must admit I don't feel up to this battle.Seeing my mum so sick everyday makes me teary at best,it's a struggle to find the strength to battle this as well.I had been wavering on fear foods for tonight but after the encouragement I have received I am ready for war.Just have to get my helmet on,shortbread biscuits here we come.
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deenl
You go girl!

I was inspired by the replies I got when I started a thread about hitting ED hard. (I think/hope I inserted a link at the bottom of this post)

But I do think each family, parent, kid and their circumstances are unique. So lots of trial and error are part of the process until we find what works for our particular situation.

http://www.aroundthedinnertable.org/post/hit-ed-hard-vs-a-slow-and-steady-approach-7892000?pid=1290602554#gsc.tab=0

Keep up the good work and good luck
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.
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deenl
Dear berry75,

I'm so sorry to hear about your mum in combination with ED difficulties. 

It's very emotional while you are in the midst of it and each day brings challenges but I hear your strength. I too am only a recent member of the EDparent 'club' and in the beginning my mind and emotions were in chaos. Through this forum and the passing of time I am feeling calmer. However, that is only because we are not really challenging ED at the moment. Just wait 'til next week!!!!! I fully expect to be back into chaos but I have a base of determination and strength and that is what I am recognising in you. So good day/bad days your basic determination will win out over the longer term.

I had what we call an 'eventful' childhood up until I was about in my early 20's, just one thing after another and sometimes one,two, three things on top of each other. As a mum now, I don't know how my own mum did it!! Really, she is awesome and my heroine. But she did it just like we are doing; being practical one step at a time, changing any little thing we can (that can be as simple as the tone of our voice, we can always control something!), keeping the ultimate goal in mind, consciously looking for some good somewhere (nature, unexpected kindness, music, loved ones, chocolate and wine, a bath, a hug, whatever) And eventually all things pass. My dearest wish used to be that my life was in a rut! I got my wish for 20 years and now this but I will persevere and in time fall into a different rut.

I really like mamabear's style. She sounds like my mum in her no-nonsense moods! So here are some things I jotted down from mamabear:

Trust your gut and never give into that parental part of yourself that is so sympathetic. Breakdowns mean breakthroughs.

I had to stop my S doing outside activities so this one helped: It's hell to take away things that you know are important to your kid - it feels wrong and bad at first. But it's too much energy lost. I cannot add one extra day to this process. Every day matters.

And a few other random quotes: When in charge, be in charge. (I really need this as a mantra!)
Where the focus goes, energy flows. (My focus is S recovery in balance with my/H/S1/S3 needs)

All my deceased loved ones have died suddenly so I have no idea how to reach out about that other than to offer my deepest sympathy and my hope that the right people cross your path and bring you some comfort.

Sending a hug over the wires,
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.
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berry75
Hello Deenl, thank you so much for taking the time to write.I am going to write some of those down to add to my list of sayings,it is helpful to borrow words from other mums who have been through this.One I found was,the only way to get better is to challenge that thought.I can not remember whose words of wisdom those were but they really helped.Almost like a mantra,I love you,you are safe,please trust me.When my daughter is eating a fear food and having a real melt down my own words seem to get forgotten.She ate those two tiny cookies tonight with a cup of tea,and is now watching a movie with her sister.I feeling like crying tears of joy that she ate them.I am so grateful to have found this forum as unless you have been through this it's hard to grasp how scary it is.
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K63
Hi berry 75 , sorry that things are so hard for you right now with two very traumatic things going on . Hope your mom is comfortable I know it must be difficult to get a bit of time for yourself but it's so important. We had a few bad days at the beginning of this week my d was so anxious for every meal I tried to find out why but she didn't seem to know . She did eat but with a lot of support and encouragement and sometimes I felt like running away. But yesterday it settled and she was less anxious. So remember this will pass and if you are having a really bad meal the next one might be better. We are still introducing fear foods A different chocolate bar and doing ok . Keep going and well done with the cookies.
Daughter started restricting in February 2014, tried re feeding at home hospital admission 4 1/2 months weight restored started restricting post discharge, back on meal plan full supervision weight restored april 2016. Starting to hand back responsibility for meals it's scary. 
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evamusby_UK
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She ate those two tiny cookies tonight with a cup of tea,and is now watching a movie with her sister.I feeling like crying tears of joy that she ate them


I am celebrating! Especially given you were dreading this evening after the other days' saga with the chips. 

I am so sorry about your mother, and you going through two hard things at once.
Eva Musby, mother, author, produces lots of resources for parents at https://anorexiafamily.com and on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/user/EvaMusby/playlists
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Psycho_Mom
Hi,

Here's another good saying that helped me through challenge foods and other eventful happenings:

"When you're getting flack, you're over the target."

My d's anxiety was severe (panic attacks early in refeeding), so I started with a laddering approach and after a while, with our t's and my d's input, we developed a system that worked for her. Although it took for gdam ever, and was a huge nuisance, I will say.

I made a list of a lot of foods (maybe about 60? She would only eat 12 foods at first, so the list of fears was long) and asked d to rate them from 0-10. 0 was no problem at all to eat, 10 was screaming panic. She have a fit even thinking about this or making a list, so we only got about ten items per day rated at first. 

Then I gave her one thing a day from the list. Sometimes it wasn't too hard, sometimes it was bad. But she got used to the idea that there would be one challenge a day (and this helped her to relax the rest of the day). For my d, it helped her to have some control over it, so I'd give her a choice of two items. Of course she'd always choose the easier of the two, so this took some thought on my part. But it helped also that sometimes she'd be "forced" to choose something fairly difficult. For example I'd give her a choice between french fries (10) and baked potato with butter (6). She'd choose baked potato, and for her, having chosen it made it much easier to eat. 

After a month I'd ask her to rate all the foods again. And then show her all the foods that had come down in difficulty. 

She hated the whole process with a passion, told me constantly that it was stupid and it wasn't working, etc. and it took maybe 9 months to get the whole list down to easy numbers. 

And now she eats everything.

Whatever you do, you can modify as you go along, and if it helps your d to have input, then give her input (input is not the same as negotiating--no negotiating!!) The most important thing is to keep at it, consistently and as fast as you can without causing such strong backlash that d doens't get the calories she needs.

You're doing great!
best wishes,
D diagnosed with EDNOS May 2013 at age 15, refed at home Aug 2013, since then symptoms gradually lessened and we retaught her how to feed and care for herself, including individual therapy, family skills DBT class, SSRI medication and relapse-prevention strategies. Anxiety was pre-existing and I believe she was sporadically restricting since about age 9. She now eats and behaves like any normal older teen, and is enjoying school, friends, sports, music and thinking about the future.
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Psycho_Mom
Hi again,

RE: your own anxiety. 

My d has been eating independently for a while, but if I for some reason serve her, I still get tense. Does this look like too much? Will she have a fuss if I give her this? How hungry is she, shall I put another scoop on, is this too many items?

Sigh. It probably doesn't help you to know you will have ptsd about this long after your d has forgotten the whole thing. My point is, I guess, that you're not alone. 

keep us posted.


D diagnosed with EDNOS May 2013 at age 15, refed at home Aug 2013, since then symptoms gradually lessened and we retaught her how to feed and care for herself, including individual therapy, family skills DBT class, SSRI medication and relapse-prevention strategies. Anxiety was pre-existing and I believe she was sporadically restricting since about age 9. She now eats and behaves like any normal older teen, and is enjoying school, friends, sports, music and thinking about the future.
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hopefulmama
Ditto what PM said regarding PTSD.

My d is recovered from AN (and severe depression, suicidality and anxiety co-occurring) and has been doing really well for about 2 years.  Last week she traveled to South America to study abroad for the semester.  She was understandably full of lots of emotions, fear, excitement, sadness about leaving her BF behind, anxiety about a 15 hr plane ride, living with a new family that only spoke Spanish, etc. She was texting me on the plane before it took off and was handling it all fine. I admit though that given what we went through for the 2 years that she was sick, there was a very, very small part of me that wondered if she bolted the plane at the last minute because she was too anxious about going. Granted, it was just a fleeting thought in my head, but it was still there.  This proves PM's point that the PTSD remains for us moms, even in a tiny place, long after our kids are recovered.

I was admittedly the worst mom ever to have a d with AN.  I was anxious, reactive, intense, etc.  This is what helped me:

 - It seems basic, but to just realize and recognize that feeling in the pit of my stomach, or my increased heartbeat was in fact anxiety over how my d was going to react to a situation;

 - I needed a plan if things went south to keep me from turning into the original Psycho Mom that I was.  I would say over and over again, as calmly as possible, "I can't imagine how hard this is for you, but I know that it is the only way out of this hell you are in." I found the the softer and more slowly I said it, the easier it was to stay calm. Now my d tells me that when I freaked uot it made her feel hopeless.  When I stayed calm and retreated my mantra, although she scoffed at it at the time, she now says it helped her.

There was a HUGE correlation between my remaining calm and the length of time of my d's melt down.  It got easier to stay calm when I finally figured that out.  Believe me, I could list pages of times I wished I had been able to hold it together and didn't. DBT really helped me a lot too.

It is THE most challenging thing I have ever been through in my life, but we made it and you will too!

Enjoying my 23 year-old daughter's achievement of active recovery that was made possible by the resources and education I found on this forum.

Don't give up hope!
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ed_newbie
Hi Berry,

I am relatively new here as well.  13 yr old d diagnosed with AN in December. 

I'm sorry you are dealing with your mum's illness while all this is happening.  It must be so overwhelming. I hope you are able to find some help over the next few months?  I know I couldn't handle what I'm doing without hands-on help from other family members and close friends. 

I agree with Eva about repeating the fear food for a few days and then sporadically thereafter.  I am struggling right now with d's breakfast as she seems to only want the same thing each day.  At the start of re-feeding we introduced tons of high calorie fear foods (pancakes, waffles, french toast, etc.) right away.  Though extremely painful I believe the strategy is what helped her re-gain weight so quickly.   

Perhaps because she has been doing well weight-wise I feel like I've "backed off" a bit on challenging her.  I now realize I need to be just as tough as I was at the beginning to help her overcome these irrational thoughts/behaviors.  It is hard because it is exhausting as you well know.  I was pretty high-energy at the beginning of this whole thing and I definitely need to get that sense of urgency back so we can put on those final pounds and get to work on healing her mind.  

We are all thinking of you, hang in there!!

"Lineage, personality and environment may shape you, but they do not define your full potential."    Mollie Marti  

ed_newbie

15 yr old d diagnosed with AN late December 2015 at the age of 12 after a 23 lb weight loss during prior 3 months. Started FBT/Maudsley at home on Christmas Eve with support from amazing local nutritionist specializing in ED and trained in FBT. WR Feb 2016 and pushing our way through puberty and rapid growth.
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berry75
Just an update, my daughter ate her cookies for the second time tonight some tears but not any thing like last time.I really helps to see this process in action and see it working.Cup of tea,sweet and salty popcorn and shortbread cookies are all less scary.Now for a repeat of the hot chips.She also asked for an extra drink today,not something that was expected not a snack just because she was thirsty.I calmly made her a milo but inside I felt like dancing and jumping up and down with excitement.Small victories,but gosh you need them.
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K63
Hi berry75 , well done to you keep going .
Daughter started restricting in February 2014, tried re feeding at home hospital admission 4 1/2 months weight restored started restricting post discharge, back on meal plan full supervision weight restored april 2016. Starting to hand back responsibility for meals it's scary. 
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sk8r31
We all celebrate those 'victories', however small they may appear.  Well done you for staying the course...

Wishing continued success as you move ahead...hang in there!
It is good to not only hope to be successful, but to expect it and accept it--Maya Angelou
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Torie
Oh yay - so glad to her the positive report!!

Berry 1
Ed 0

You rock!

xx

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