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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New to this forum and so glad to have found it. Feeling so overwhelmed right now. Daughter who is just about 16 with anorexia which just blossomed this school year. Daughter has always had a tendency towards being somewhat obsessive about things but it never interfered before. This school year her best friend lost weight and started exercising a lot. My daughter had always exercised a lot like her friend but had never tried dieting before. Apparently my daughter set out to lose a lot of weight at the encouragement of her best friend. What started out seeming like innocent attempts to eat better has turned into full blown anorexia. She has lost 35 pound in less than 3 months. Her heart rate is low and her periods have stopped. We are trying desperately to keep her out of the hospital, but we are getting scared that she might need hospitalization. We met with one eating disorders clinic at a major children's hospital which was worthless. They recommended we contact our insurance about getting her a therapist, increase her caloric intake and return to see the adolescent medicine doc who evaluated her in 4 weeks. How is that good advice when she is rapidly losing weight and muscle mass? Have now started individual therapy with someone who specializes in eating disorders and we are waiting for an eval with a new MD. Also waiting to hear back from new nutrionist who works with the new therapist.
Given that we are just starting this process feeling so overwhelmed. Trying to refeed her at home based on what I have read on line but every meal and every snack is a battle. She wants choices but I cant let her choose as she chooses nothing except for very low calorie foods and veggies. I have taken away her exercise and she is very angry at me for that. Insists that is why she is losing muscle though I know it is her starvation. Unfortunately her best friend who helped trigger this keeps telling her she is doing great by losing weight. That message is not helping me with trying to get through to her. Her friend and her friend's parents insist that we have taken away her exercise just to keep her away from her friend. Why can't they see the reality of what is happening to my daughter.

Sorry to ramble - just so overwhelmed right now and needing to find more support.

Lynn [smile]

First of all- kudos to you for acting urgently on this. This illness kills and you are right to jump on it.!
Stopping her exercise is absolutely 100 percent the right thing to do. Stop it ALL. My daughter also has a very severe exercise compulsion (read the thread I just started tonight on Ed's secrets).

You are also absolutely 100 percent right that she cannot and should not have choices in her food. This is called " magic plate"- a term coined here on this forum. Ed is not going to let her choose what her body really needs.

It is normal to go to war. She is going to fight back and meals may last hours at first but the only thing that matters is weight gain and as fast as possible. 2 pounds a week is very doable.

Assuming that labs have been run and she has been deemed medically ok at the moment.... You don't need a dietician or therapist or doctor to tell you what your very wise gut is already telling you. She is starving. She needs weight.

Fats are very critical. The more the better. Adding heavy whipping cream, butter, oils to everything. Casseroles, thick creamy soups, smoothies, shakes- if you can get it in her than do it.

As far as her friends parents go... I would buy and give them the book " Brave Girl Eating" by Harriet Brown. It really helps people understand who do not get the get it. And if they still don't or won't read it- who the hell cares. You need to focus on the task at hand. You know the truth.

Read everything you can.... Reach out to all of us with issues and questions. There is a plethora of experience here.

And keep hope alive. You can get your girl back. We got ours back- 100 percent. It is a long hard road, but it can be done.
Persistent, consistent vigilance!
Hi Goobity - Welcome to the club no one wants to join.  You have come to the right place for support and advice - MamaBear has already given you some good information.

Your instincts are spot on - as a mom, you know what your starving d needs: food, food, and more food and lots and lots of fats.  If the "experts" give you advice that seems wrong to you ... well, the "experts" are likely not up to date on evidence based treatment. We all prefer to re-feed at home and avoid hospitalization, but many find that a fairly high level of paid care is needed to move the process along.  Has your d regained any weight yet?

We all empathize with your statement that every meal and every snack is a battle.  I have learned from the veterans here that the 4 C's are calm, compassionate, confident and consistent.  Of course no one is perfect in implementing them, but most find it helps our kids a lot when we remember to try. 

My d is also turning 16, and we have been in this for almost exactly one year.  We have a similar problem with a good friend of d's who has - at best - seriously disordered eating and a whole host of other co-morbids, and whose parents who can't or at any rate don't provide useful help to her.  It does make it harder (and more frustrating) - there have been times I have actually considered moving away - but in the end we have found ways to get through this in spite of the "friend" who encourages, aids, and abets my d.

This video by forum member Eva Musby has been a great help to me:

Hang in there and please keep us posted..

"We are angels of hope, of healing, and of light. Darkness flees from us." -YP 
Thanks so much for the welcomes and the wealth of information and support. I feel like I have learned so much from reading through posts here and the information you all provide. Thanks for the video post - so helpful. Just spent time looking at Eva's website and online book as well. Such a helpful referral. Feeling a bit more optimistic than I was earlier knowing that I can post questions here and people are willing to help. Also feeling much better knowing that I am doing the right thing by stopping the exercise and taking complete control of the food. Can't thank you guys enough already!!! One snack, one meal, one day at a time.
Lynn [smile]
Hi there, just wanted to say hello and welcome. On this forum you will find so much help. But I would strongly suggest stopping the exercising too if you can. I wish we had stopped all sports with my daughter as it just accelerates the weight loss. I don't feel as knowledgeable enough to advise as am new to this illness but just wanted to say get as much help as you can. This illness has to be fought head on. Also just to let you know you will find many understanding people on here and so much advice - read, read, and read!
Daughter was age 11 when she started restricting Aug 2014, admitted to paed ward Dec 2014 for low BP, pulse rate and spent 3 weeks there. As they were about to NG tube her, she decided to eat again. After approx. 1.5 years on a meal plan and lots of toil, sweat and tears she is weight restored and has just been discharged from NHS care. It's been a very slow traumatic process but each day we are making progress.
I want to recommend 'Help Your Teen Beat an Eating Disorder' by Legrange and Lock. That book really got us on track. Also, there is a list somewhere on the forum of the medical tests that a gp needs to do to determine if your d is stable medically or in danger of having a heart attack. But be careful to read the results yourself. Although the EKG may be 'normal', if the heart rate is low, especially if under 50, she needs to go to hospital. Our d had a heart rate of 50 and was told by the gp 'all is fine.' I found a few days later from the ED specialist that in fact that is the cut off point for hospitalisation here. I think we escaped hospitalisation by a week or two at best.

Having said that, hospitalisation is a very good thing for someone who needs it and can save their life and kickstart things in the right direction. There is no shame in it. The only drawback is that they can sometimes learn a lot of 'tricks' from others there.

Keep asking for help.

Best wishes,
18 yr old d Dx Mar 25/14. WR June 2014. FBT/EFFT, Individual Therapy. In Phase III, eating intuitively, letting her plan ahead on her own re her nutritional needs for the day and how they fit into her schedule. Teaching her how to cook more for herself. Still watchful. Thankful every single day.


It is overwhelming, but it is life-saving work. Getting my daughter well has been the most difficult thing I've done, but also the most important. The devil is in the details--every meal and snack needs to get in and stay in. It is hard at first, but gets easier when the disorder realizes that there's no way around, and that the easiest way out is to just let the kid eat.

My daughter couldn't pick up her fork. ED wouldn't let her. But, she let me feed her (after horrible behavior that comes with the disorder that we all know so well). She was young, but some teens also find that helpful.

Eva Musby has written a helpful book that she has distilled from not only her own experience but that of parents here. It contains tons of practical ideas. Each kid is different, but ED is the same--a manipulative beast that thrives on choice and manipulation. Because of that, having everything very regularized in terms of a meal/snack schedule is important, as is getting in all of the needed lipids (fats!--at least 30% dietary fat), no more low-cal versions, etc.

You can do this. Get the reinforcements you need (my husband and I didn't work for three months, others call in friends, relatives, grandparents from afar, etc.).

Sending warm support.
"Hope is a wonderful thing ... but hope by itself is not enough. Hope is the reason to take action, to make a plan and then to change the plan when it isn’t working - over and over and over again if necessary." Hannah Joseph (Let's Feast Friday Reflection, "Just Keep Going," Friday, March 3rd, 2015)
If her heart rate is low, she has lost 35 pounds, has lost her period, I am surprised that your D hasn't been admitted to the hospital. Did they do an EKG? I would request one.  How is her blood pressure? Does she have orthostasis?  I would not wait four weeks for the adolescent doc. If necessary, I would take her to the ER.

Are you in the US? 

I'm sorry you are going through this. It is so scary.  

Welcome!  It's a challenging road ahead, but you are beginning the very steep learning curve needed to help your d overcome her eating disorder.  Here is a link to 3 Family Guides from the FEAST website, that contain lots of helpful info.  They are in pdf form, and can be downloaded, or you can order hard copies to give to family/friends, in order to help them understand what you & your family are facing.

As mentioned above, your d should be evaluated at least on a weekly basis, possibly twice a week, by a medical provider.  Orthostatic blood pressures should be taken; that is blood pressure taken while lying down, and then a couple of minutes later a standing blood pressure.  This is very important at this stage for your daughter, as it can indicate whether her heart is having to work much harder, in order to just accomplish the very basics of daily living activities.  It is a prime indicator of whether your d may need to be hospitalized or not.

My d also had a very sharp decrease in weight, 35 lbs in 4 months, and it was necessary to have her hospitalized for about a week, to stablize vitals.  Here is a link to the Academy of Eating Disorders, with info on tests that medical providers should be doing for your d.  If you have to wait for appointments with the Adolescent Medicine clinic for more than a week, I would go to your family doc with this guide, and have the necessary tests done there.

Sending you warm support,

It is good to not only hope to be successful, but to expect it and accept it--Maya Angelou
You have received great advice already, and will only get that here on this forum. Those of us who have found it are very fortunate.

Just remember that when your d says she only wants the veggies and other low fat food, it is the ED talking. She wants the really good food, foods she used to eat prior to ED. Her ED is holding her hostage. Feed her what you know she used to like. You've already heard it but make sure she has lots of fats in her diet-sneak them into food if you have to. So important. I put a ton of Ben & Jerry's ice cream into every smoothie, and cream into every chocolate milk.

Word of warning. Don't let the nutritionist put you on a rigid meal plan that doesn't include enough fats. If it doesn't sound right to you, ask the forum. Magic plate works best. You decide what she eats. Your d can't do that and won't be able to for a long time. Don't let her in the kitchen to see what you are doing with the food. Tell her you are in charge, you will get her better by giving her medicine she needs--which is food and lots of it. Good luck. This illness sucks, but it does get better in time, but it's so important to hit it with everything you've got right from the start. The longer your d stays underweight and unwell, the harder it will be in the long run.
Welcome Goobity,

The above have given you solid advice that should help you to create a battle plan. Listen to your gut instinct and don't let anyone (family or medical team) minimize this. At this time your child is experiencing cognitive disconnect due to starvation and should not have the say in what she will or will not consider. There needs to be a united front, and until things have stabilized I would limit exposure to any influence that compromises the goal of weight restoration. My daughter was at a similar place regarding symptoms and was immediately hospitalized, despite "seeming O.K." to many. My husband was going on brisk walks with the dogs in the cold December air, and d was writing a dense senior thesis....these are examples of things others may use as their proof that "it's not too serious." The symptoms you gave indicate that this is very serious, and it's most unfortunate your initial evaluation didn't give your family the guidance you needed. The sooner your family embraces a comprehensive recovery plan the better - keep researching and find a good treatment team.

Hang in there!

A mother here to learn.....
D diagnosed/hospitalized for 2 weeks January 2013 --Accepted as a patient at Kartini Clinic--IOP for 12 weeks--Discharged from Kartini summer of 2014. WR June of 2013--Our daughter embraces recovery and is reclaiming her life with wins large and small!