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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I am new here, and am in shock to be here. I read posts here a few years ago when a former coworker's daughter was very ill. I think in a twisted way I thought that knowing about eating disorders prevented me from having a child develop one.

But here I am. My d turned 13, had been overweight, grew, started cutting out sugar, my husband had an accident (stress trigger?) but seemed ok. In the last month or so she seemed to be over exercising, started restricting. I insisted upon meals, starting forbidding the "workout", but I let her have some control over the meals. She started self checking and obsessing.

I talked to dr and took her to a counselor, but finally called a program in my town to have her evaluated (really have only been noticing issues for 2 or so months). Assessment yesterday resulted in dx of "atypical an." Will start IOP either mid week next week or the beginning of the week after.
Her raging has significantly increased. She hasn't been great, but tolerated meals, which were not from her "favorite list" but snacks are terrible, and I just tried a pudding cup. She finally took a spoonful.
So questions:
COuld the raging be worse around food because I'm making more demands and trying (sometimes failing) not to give in to the incessant, "Am I fatter? questions.  From what I read it could be a good sign, or is that too much to hope for?
Should I wait to start treatment before worrying about the foods she has the most difficult time with?
Is there ever a time to hospitalize because of out of control behavior around food?
Often, after the meals are over, I find myself crying, and then she cries and this brings us back to "normal" but I have a feeling that this isn't really healthy.
I'm terrified because she says she does NOT want to get better. I'm so scared she won't get better, and this is so difficult for my husband because of his health issues.
Thank you, I have learned so much from reading this website, these boards, and related books.

Welcome to the club no one wants to have to join. My heart goes out to you. I have been where you are 5.5 years ago now....

The behavior you are experiencing from your daughter is completely normal. I had the same experience. Your daughter's eating disorder now officially knows that you are on it. Your daughter doesn't need to try to " fake it" anymore. The true colors of the Ed will show now. I think all of us thought in the beginning that our kid would be " different" and somehow we wouldn't see these kinds of behaviors but it really is very par for the course.

You are doing really well by not engaging in any " fat" talk. Ignore it. Change the subject. Use distractions. TV, movies, games, whatever it takes. Put on your big girl pants. Try to remain very calm. Just " one bite at a time. After you are done we can xyz. I'm sorry this is so hard....now another bite." She spits it out, you replace the bite. She throws the plate, you get another. Be more relentless than the eating disorder.

You don't have to wait for the program to begin to start refeeding. Where is her weight at currently? As far as fear foods go there are differing opinions and experiences. I ripped the band aid off. If she ate it pre Ed then it was fair game. My daughter was going to freak out no matter what so I felt I would rather get it all over with and just go for it. It worked for us.

My child was 10.5 when diagnosed. She was hospitalized for a month ( nightmare- long story), we refed quickly and then battled growth and puberty for the next 3 years. She is now almost 16 and has been solidly in recovery for over 2 years. If you met her now you would never think she had an Ed.

This takes a long time. Patience is key. Persistent, consistent, vigilance. Take things one meal/snack at a time right now. One foot in front of the other.

I know how terrified you are. I remember screaming in the fetal position to God begging to get my daughter back. I thought she was gone forever. She wasn't gone- she was held hostage by a brain hijacker. Your daughter needs you to fight for her right now.

We are all here to help you!
My daughter is at a Spanish camp for 5 days right now. She just texted me that Cuban food is delicious. KEEP HOPE! She will come back to you.
Persistent, consistent vigilance!

Oh my goodness thank you for your quick replies.
We have an Emily PRogram in my town, and they were the ones who did the official diagnosis. She is not underweight, but has lost 30 lb, and is terrified of gaining it back.
This behavior is so very uncharacteristic, the swearing, throwing food, spitting, it's quite horrifying. Thankfully about 20-30 min later she's back to herself. When she's herself, she's actually better than the level of irritability we'd had for a while. But when she's bad, she's awful.

After dinner we've been heading to target or walgreens to wander around and distract. I have a feeling that this might be dysfunctional in the long run. What do you think? I end up buying her distracting junk!


Hi and Welcome,

All of the behaviors you describe are completely typical RAN. Terror and resulting avoidance of feared foods and of eating in general, guilt and shame after the meal, resisting diagnosis or saying she isn't ill and/or doens't want to get better, raging and more extreme behavior now that the behavior and restriction is being challenged. These are all completely typical behaviors. Atypical anorexia I guess refers to the fact that your d's weight is still in what is considered a "normal range"? Despite the fact that it is NOT a normal range FOR HER.  It is in fact a range that is causing all these cognitive imparements and dreadful behaviors and will lead to worse. 

I'm so sorry your d is suffering this terrible illness.

The good news is, with prompt aggressive treatment in the form of adequate weight restoration, and after that, treatment of anxiety or other co-morbids as necessary, there is a good chance of recovery!!

Do please read all around this site, and ask lots of questions. Read the Magic Plate page, and on the Hall of Fame page, the How to Get A Resistant Anorexic to Eat page. The best introductory books for caregivers are:

How to Help your Teen Beat an Eating Disorder, by Locke and LeGrange
Decoding Anorexia, by Carrie Arnold
Brave Girl Eating, by Harriet Brown

You might also like to let people know what part of the country you're in, as there are different resources available in different places, and other members can advise.

Again, welcome, and feel free to ask all the questions you need. And yes, If Walgreens works as a distraction after meals, then yay! Walgreens.

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.
ally2016 wrote:
I'm terrified because she says she does NOT want to get better. 

It's OK if she says she doesn't want to get better. It's even OK if she means it. I mean, it's one of the suck-o aspects of this vile illness, but it doesn't mean you won't win. It just means that you will have to do the fighting FOR her because that's just how it is with AN. So frustrating that we have to drag them back to a state of health against their will, but it's really very rare for anyone here to report that their Ed-kid is helping with the fight. MUCH more common is that we have to fight both AN and our own kid. 

Oftentimes our real kid DOES want to get better, despite what the illness makes them say. Other times they don't. The only thing that really matters is that you are going to drag your d back up through the rabbit hole, regardless.

Welcome, Ally. So sorry you needed to join us here. Please feel free to ask all the questions you like. Or rank. Or cry. Or all of the above - we've been there and we get it.

Keep swimming. xx

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

Sorry you have to be here, none of us would make the choice, but are blessed to have the support.

I read all the above responses, ALL such perfect words!! Keep reading as many posts as you can, it will give YOU momentum to fight the beast!

You will learn incredible strategies through her treatment. I am on round two, my D was 10 when this began, became WR and we left this site and became healthy and what appeared to be normal...until now, at age 13. ED is back and mad this time, he has become a very persistent voice in my poor D's head.  

However, I feel empowered by reading these incredible posts from incredible women. I am determined to bury this voice once again and like all Mothers who love their children, will not stop until it ''he'' gone...and if ''he'' returns again, the fight begins again...I will never give up hope!!!

Stay strong!!! You got this!!! 


I truly believe if love were medicinal, our children would all be cured! 


Hi Ally and so sorry that your D is suffering, but glad you found us!  Yes, all the behavior you describe is normal.  I had plates thrown at me, the blender thrown at the wall, and once she sprayed disinfectant on her food so she couldn't eat it ....  I say that now with a little grin but back in the trenches it was horrible to experience.   Your D is also raging more now with the added anxiety of the upcoming program.   Just keep feeding and it will get better.  Even though you say she is not underweight, the period of starvation to lose those 30 lbs really did a lot of damage to her brain.  I used to think of it as a traumatic brain injury (not her fault) to keep me from getting mad at my D.  Didn't always work!  I got mad and I cried a lot too.   Mostly I tried to cry in private, like in the shower, so that I got it all out of my system and my D didn't see me cry.  I think that made her feel guilty.    My biggest piece of advice it to increase her fats/lipids as much as you can.  They are essential for brain healing in my book.   Hopefully the program won't give you an exact meal plan to follow in front of your D because it makes it harder to get those fats in there.   In the php / iop program we attended, the nutritionist only spoke to me and not my D.   Look into that if you can.  I think if my D were given a meal plan to follow, it would have made her more rigid.   And truth is, no teenager needs to follow a meal plan!   They are brought up to eat what mom or dad made for dinner.

How to get those fats into her diet?   Try to do a daily smoothie as a snack (yogurt, juice, canola oil and heavy whipping cream HWC in a blender).  Add extra oil and butter to things you make like mashed potatoes (I always did mashed sweet potatoes because the orange color hide the yellow butter!)  

Good Luck, you've got this!  Keep coming back for help, advice, or just to vent.  We all get it. 
I agree. No meal plans. Don't involve her in anything having to do with the food other than eating it. Period.
Persistent, consistent vigilance!
I am so sorry you have to join us "around the dinner table."  Reading your post brings tears to my eyes because we are just emerging from the war zone of initial re-feeding and these memories are still fresh.  We are still in the early stages of struggling with this illness but my daughter is now WR and we are moving into maintaining, healing, and coping.  Everything you describe is typical.  Make sure to watch for self-harm, especially around meals.  During the darkest days of re-feeding I explained to my daughter's friend, the only one who knows she has an ED, that it's like the good witch and the bad witch on the Wizard of Oz.  They are both in my daughter's head trying to talk to her.  As the good witch starts to win (because she has the support of parents, friends, and loved ones), the bad witch screams and screeches louder and louder and gets meaner as she's losing her power.  My daughter had to listen to all that screaming and it was driving her crazy.  The bad witch is still there but we have her in a cage and now her screams are whispers. Keep it up.  This is hard, very hard, but you will get through this part and you can get your daughter's witch into the cage by getting over this hump.  Good luck.