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.

Join these conversations already in progress:
• Road To Recovery - Stories of Hope
• Events for Parents and Caregivers Around the World
• Free F.E.A.S.T Conference Videos

Visit the F.E.A.S.T website for information and support.

If you need help using the forum please reach out to one of the moderators (listed below), or email us at bronwen@feast-ed.org.


I started this thread to document the journey of the Children and pre-teens with ED. I'm hoping that if a new parent is searching for help, it will pop up and they can read this and find common ground. Could you post a description of your journey if your child was 12 and under at dx and they are still young or a teen?

May 2005 D was 9 at DX with RAN. She had grown 3 in but not gained any weight. Fell from 75% to 40% in her growth chart.  Saw T who believed in Maudsley but I was given NO tools to help her gain weight. D became exercise compulsive when we increased calories. Spent 15 months at same weight while continuing to grow.

Summer 2005 - Summer 2007 completely entrenched in eating disorder behavior.

July 2007 Age 10, 11 months Found ATDT forum and understood what it meant to feed your child. "Life Stops until you eat" became our motto. Refed earnestly for 6 weeks using magic plate. Achieved 12 lb gain. D went back to school - 5th G with 504 Plan. Ate breakfast fully at home before school, snack at nurse's office, lunch and recess were spent at home, snack in pm and supper at home.

October 2007 D was at Ped recommended Target weight of 50% and still very ill in her brain/though patterns but was allowed to start club soccer 2 X / wk and games on weekends. (Mistake I regret)

Early January 2008 11 years Had Read Dr O'Tooles paper on weight restoration and d reaches 75% of weight. HUGE difference in ED behaviors and resistance to eating drops.

July 2008 D passes the 100 lb mark, 78% in growth chart and starts menses

School year 2008 - 2009 6th G - 12 years old Physically weight continued going up. Very rough time of hormonal adjustment. Extreme social and academic anxiety inability to eat lunch at school (in hindsight we should have continued supporting her at lunch) but weight continued going up so we didn't interfere with lunch. Unable to serve her own food and we are still 100% plating and serving all meals and snacks.

7th G- 13 yo Switched schools had a wonderful school year. Started having good friends and social anxiety went away. Is able to eat lunch at school on her own Is able to choose her own snacks sometimes.

8th G - 14 All heck breaks loose. ADHD explodes and she is failing in school and acting recklessly by putting herself in danger. We start stimulant meds. After about 6 months, meds have made a HUGE difference for the better.  

9th G and 10th G - Today 16 years old. She has stopped growing but continues to gain weight to keep up with about 75% in growth chart. Maturity kicks in and she is a joy to us. living full and rich life in every area of her life. Has great balance between social (maybe not as she is a social butterfly), school, sports, etc.

21 year old daughter who was DX with RAN at 9 years old. The work of recovery is ongoing. 
My daughter Abby was diagnosed with RAN on her 10th birthday, November 8, 2012.

Early Life:  Always an anxious and shy child, very obsessed with her hair, clothing, and being perfect in all things.  Total perfectionist.  Chalked it up to "just one of those kids bent on succeeding".

Early Summer 2012:  Abby started spending more time in the bathroom, started complaining that she was fat, began to be obsessed with "skinny jeans" and became even more conscious of her hair and body.  Started weighing herself.  Started "eating healthy" which in her mind meant no fast food, no candy, no desserts.

Late Summer/Early Fall 2012:  Abby would weigh herself 30+ times a day, and began asking to exercise, usually by running up and down my stairs, riding her bike around the block like a maniac, or doing crunches.  She began restricting her food to fruits only, and only a little water.  She began to ask "how many crunches do I need to do" after eating anything.  

End of October 2012:  Abby was noticeably thinner, and having constant headaches, stomachaches, and weakness.  Her teacher called us and said that she noticed Abby was throwing away her breakfast and lunch at school, untouched, and expressed her concern.  We took her to several doctors, who refused to believe that a 10 year old could even develop anorexia.  I began to try to get some high calorie foods into her, with very little success.  Rages, crying, exercise became worse as I tried to coerce her into eating anything.  She finally got into a psychologist who met with her once, and said Abby was too malnourished to have a coherent conversation with.  The nutritionist in that same office also met with us, and recommended admitting Abby to the hospital.  Sadly, the doctors were still pussyfooting around.

Early November: Through my father in law, who is a physician, we obtained an appointment with a pediatrician in his office.  He listened to our story, and though he knew nothing of eating disorders, save that he'd had one young patient 15 years ago, he agreed that Abby was so dehydrated and malnourished that she must be admitted immediately.  We went straight to the hospital.  She got IV fluids, and they attempted to get her to eat something, which was unsuccessful for three days.  Finally, her doctor got in touch with doctors at Denver Childrens Hospital who asked him to run an EKG on Abby.  When her pediatrician saw the results, he immediately ordered an NG tube.  Abby stayed in the hospital for 3 weeks with the NG tube, while we fought the fight of all fights with the insurance company. (you can look up that thread, it's titled "HELP".)  In the meantime, they put her on Lithium, and Prozac.  Neither of these drugs did anything for her.  The exercise continued, even after she was confined to her hospital bed, because she gave herself shin splints by walking the hospital halls incessantly.

December 5th, 2012:  We finally get the go-ahead to take Abby to Eating Recovery Center in Denver, CO.  She is currently inpatient, and gaining weight.  I'll have to update this thread as we go on with our journey.  That's where we are right now.

D was always a perfectionist and a little OCD but so is her Dad.

In 2010-2011 (10 yrs old)  weight increased but we were not worried because she was an active child.  Fall of 2011, D was teased at school--called chunky monkey and her lunch was taken away by friends and she was told you don't need it. 

Dec 2011--11 yrs old, D starts to eat healthy, adding fruits and vegetables to her diet.  As a mom, I am happy about that. (stupid me).  H & I notice in Jan that D has grown and has started losing her baby fat.  She is still eating healthy.  D has 11 yr old check up, she is 84 pounds.  (she had been 87 in Sept), but she had grown an inch.

March 2012---at Championship swim meet, I notice D is not eating enough the night before to supplement a weekend of swimming.  I tell her she has to eat all of her dinner.  D is now down to 77lbs

April 2012---At this time I am getting a little worried about D.  She is obsessed with her weight and is eating really healthy.  Spring Break we go out to eat and she refuses to order anything because she had eaten all her jelly beans.  I make her eat a taco and she cries the entire time.  H & I figure she needs to see a dietitian about proper nutrition

April 16th--We meet with a dietitian who is a family friend.  She talks with D about calories  and what her body needs to live.  D cries and says she just wants to eat like her sisters again.  Dietitian says she will be fine, I think you caught it early enough.  Just make sure she gets 2000 calories aday.   D is now at 72lbs

Remainder of April and May 2012--D eats barely but calls us from school crying that the voice inside of her head is telling her not to eat her lunch.  We are barely getting 1500 calories a day into her.  The scale is removed from house.

May 15, 2012-- I call her Ped Office to get an appt with her doc.  Doc only works Mondays and Fridays and next available appt not during school hours (D has become obsessed about not missing school) is on Friday, May 25th.

May 25th 2012--D is down to 68lbs, Doc confirms that D has AN and that she doesn't have any experience with eds.  She talks with D about the need to eat the 2000 c and she wants D to start gaining weight to get to 77lbs.  Doc tells me she will find a specialist for us.  Calls back that night, says I have you an appt on Tuesday 5/29. 

May 29th--Specialist confirms Dx and tells us to find a therapist.  She doesn't need to see D again unless she continues to lose weight.  D is at 65lbs.  Told to follow up with Ped Doc

June 2012--D finishes school, gains 4 lbs to 69lbs (flips out in Doc office),  find a therapist who we saw 2 times--D wanted to know why T was trying to blame the family.  D eats but is not gaining.  We go on family vacation and 6/25-- I find FEAST and ATDT and Magic Plate.  We start Life stops til you eat while on vacation and the fun begins.

July 6th--D did not gain or lose on vacation.  Ped Doc recommends Sports Nutritionist who specializes in eds.  No more counting calories, here is a meal plan made up of all the food groups. 

Mid-July to Mid-Aug 2012---I start adding Benecalorie to smoothies, increasing her calories and portions and the rages begin.  D slowly gains she is at 2000 -2500 at day.  We are seeing N & T weekly with weigh ins at Ped Office.  Since D was slowly gaining, N & T tell us to go back to Ed Specialist.  Ed Specialist tells D you are doing good.  D 72lbs and Ed Doc says she can gain a few more. **Drop Ed Specialist

Mid-Aug -- End of Sept 2012---School starts and I supervise her lunches the first few weeks of school,  End of Sept 77.5 lbs.  Her ed thoughts are still there but not as strong

October 2012--we move out of state and find a FBT.  She tells us to get D back on growth curve she needs to be at 90 - 93lbs at that time D was at 80lbs.  YIKES--I find out about HWC and add it to everything.  FBT says to increase calories, so we increase to 3500 - 4000 c.  D starts gaining 2lbs a week.  Ed thoughts are going away

Dec 2012--D is now at 97 lbs, most ed thoughts are gone, she still struggles with them in the morning after not eating during the night but we are working on that. 

My funny, silly, drive me crazy D is back.  D has friends at her new school, she is social again.  She picks on her sisters and they pick on her and it doesn't cause a melt down.  She still worries about grades but the anxiety is not as high.  Her room is a messy.  Her hair does not have to be perfect anymore.

It was not an easy road and I know we still have lots of years ahead of us but FOOD IS MEDICINE.  Your child can and will recover.  This will be the hardest thing you have ever done but when you child comes back to you it is so worth it.

Faith, Food and ATDT got our family through this and helped me save my Daughter's Life.

D is 12 yrs old, 97lbs and 57 inches as of 12/21/12
Having fun in Tween Land.
DX--11 yrs 5 mons (5/12), WR--12 yrs(12/12)
Bumping up for new parents of young kids.
21 year old daughter who was DX with RAN at 9 years old. The work of recovery is ongoing. 
Olivia did not gain weight for 10-12 months from ages 6 1/2 to 7 1/2. She got thinner. I noticed, but she was so healthy and active, didn't think much about it.

I did notice that she was eating fewer sweets, and was negatively reacting to large portions. So, we gave her smaller portions. She ate very well at some meals (always gobbled up her breakfast, for example, and ate lots of foods she really liked, like pasta), up until the day we learned of her AN.

She had physical complaints in the five months before diagnosis. Constipation. Dry skin. Dizziness. I took her to the doctor for those. Doctor recommended typical remedies. For dizziness, she suggested that Olivia not get up so fast.

I learned of Olivia's AN because she told me. I was tucking her into bed, and she said, "Mommy, I have a problem. I'm hungry all the time but I can't eat."

I brought her downstairs and fed her a snack.

Then I put her to bed and went on the web. I found this group.

I started refeeding the next day. I also went to the pediatrician alone, to get a referral to our regional children's hospital. She said, "little girls get skinny" and I said I wanted the referral, and she gave it to me even though she was doubtful. (Note: I did not take my daughter for a physical exam--I should have done this, and should have insisted she also check her blood pressure by having her lay down, sitting, and standing. I don't know if my daughter was ever in medical danger, but the dizziness, I now know, is evidence of cardiac decline).

In terms of feeding my daughter larger portions, she didn't object at first. She was hungry. She ate breakfast (always had, and I gave her the usual sorts of breakfasts). I sent a snack to school. I sent lunch to school as usual. I gave her bigger dinner portions, which she ate. I gave her dessert.

What I didn't know, was that Olivia was throwing away the food from school.

One week into this, Olivia told me she was throwing away her lunch. So, I started going to school. I got there at 10AM to supervise the morning snack. I hung out in the car till lunch, then took her to the car for lunch. She took forever to eat lunch, and would scream and cry. She was motivated by trying to make it out to play at recess. At recess, which I observed, she just did the monkey bars. I did this every day, and it was tough with my work schedule.

The next week we got the appointment we had been waiting for, with an FBT who came recommended by a mom on this forum. That mom had also warned me away from our children's hospital, so I'd never gone there. The FBT diagnosed Olivia with restrictive anorexia nervosa and anxiety disorder-NOS. She also assigned us to an FBT in her practice who specialized in working with children.

We kept feeding at home, using mostly tips from this forum, current and past posts, hall of fame, articles on the FEAST-ED and Maudsley Parents sites, and from books like Locke & LeGrange (help your teenager beat an eating disorder) and Brown's Brave Girl Eating. Olivia became more combative and difficult during refeeding after we "plugged the leaks" (she'd been throwing away lunches and snacks at school). But, we kept feeding. I did not start gradually, but just gave her normal sized meals, of a size I thought was reasonable, just using my judgement. She ate everything, though not easily or quickly, though that got better pretty fast, with fewer and fewer fights over meals. We used "LSUYE" ("life stops unless you eat"), which was motivating for her. We quickly were on vacation during re-feeding, staying at grandma's for two weeks. My mother was very helpful in setting aside a special place for Olivia to eat with supervision, away from the rest of the family (with one parent supervising). My husband was also home full-time for three months to help with refeeding, since we had difficulty taking care of Olivia and our other high-need (autism) child. In this way, Olivia gained 2 pounds a week and was re-fed in weeks.

She felt lots better at a proper (and higher percentile than ever) weight--she reported understanding what she was reading (!) and when school started in the Fall, was suddenly enjoying math.

Struggles with eating have continued post-WR. Our FBT has mostly been helpful with CBT for Olivia's anxiety, and not so much for meal support, since Olivia was mostly re-fed by the time we could actually see her (due to our vacation schedule, etc.). CBT has been very very helpful, and we are still doing that.

We are not out of the woods. Olivia has a couple of tough meals per month. She still does not want to eat. We tried moving to "Stage 2" and unsupervising some of her eating, but she went back to restricting. So, we are staying in Stage 1. She is very young, and has many years of parental supervision ahead.

While I do fear for her future, I am grateful to have found this place of help and information, without which I'm sure she wouldn't be better, as we would have gone to our local children's hospital's crummy program. And, I know I have protected her from physical damage and further brain damage, and that with her weight up her brain can heal. Olivia is still quite mentally ill--she has an intrusive voice that is very disturbing to her. This is mostly what makes me fear for her future. But, we take one day at a time. We are maintaining major life changes for Olivia--though she is very athletic, we are not going back to high intensity sports like soccer and ballet. Instead, we are sticking with lower intensity sports that she already was doing--golf and baseball, and working to help her develop her other interests in music and drama.

Hanging in there,


"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)
D had just turned 11 and was in a the end of her 5th grade year. She was in a health class and the teacher taught them that sugar was bad and almost everything has sugar in it so she stopped eating everything with sugar. Quickly went from innocent sugar avoidance to out of control fear of food. Over 3months of doc visits and getting nowhere, d dropped a lot of weight and had nearly fainted several times. Started 6th grade and d admitted to being unable to eat her lunch at school. She quickly went to visibly shaking when she sat down at home to eat. We quickly flew back to the US (we live in Shanghai) to get help. We refed her at home with the help of a team of a therapist trained in fbt, med doc specializing in eds and nutritionist to help me. D had high anxiety around food. Didn't want to sleep by herself, could not sleep, had terrible stomach aches but had no excercise compulsion. 10 pounds went on in the first month, then d started to feel stronger and really started to fight. She started throwing away food in front of me, yelling, refusing to come to the table etc. At this point discussed going to Denver Children's as her weight gain had really slowed down. The idea of going across the country to a Ed program scared d into cooperating enough for me to get 10 more pounds on her.
We then flew back to Shanghai for d to start her second semester of 6th grade. We homeschooled her thru the first semester. She was still fighting every single meal, school caused huge anxiety, girl drama etc. My husband has never been able to separate Ed from d, so he has been of no help. The rages continued and calorie requirements kept going up. Eventually d started finding ways to get rid of food as the Ed was pushed with so much food. The Ed doc said d was weight restored but the therapist wanted more weight, d was growing and I was completely burned out. Several unavoidable trips during the spring and early summer right after d turned 12 and d lost weight. Over the summer when she was 12 we just sort of stumbled along. I was burned out, d was getting rid of food. She was maintaining a weight which was 5 to 10 pounds too low.

In the fall of her 7th grade year we decided to take her to Denver Children's hospital for some help. D did well and we left after a few weeks of day program and a few weeks of outpatient. Flew back to Shanghai then back to Michigan for Christmas. D gets two very bad stomach bugs during the three week holiday, weight drops and Ed gets really strong. Can't get enough food in at home, rages are too strong. Head back to Denver Children's. This time we stay until weight restored. She turns 13 in the day program. We leave in May and head back to Michigan. Therapist wants 10-15 pounds more than Denver had recommended. So over the summer we put 10 pounds on and are back in Shanghai and the last 3-4 pounds have gone on. She has never had any exercise compulsion, but she has had and still can have severe restriction impulses. She now will talk her way out of trying to get rid of food. She says even putting a crumb on the side of her plate makes it so much easier to eat.

I still eat every meal with d, she is homeschooled and rides and trains young horses every day. She grew 3 inches during the past two years and is now nearl 40 pounds higher than she was at the admission to her second trip to Denver. We are still working with a good fbt on Skype and in person when we are in the states. We have no rages anymore, but she still has urges to restrict. I hope 2013 brings progress towards independent eating and an easing of the mental urges to restrict.
May 2013- 7 months post higher weight goal. All behaviors gone, all anxiety gone, eating some snacks on her own with no issues. Always in a good mood, eats all foods. Will move back o the states his summer. Then will work on independent eating.