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

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debra18
My daughter is now 13 years old. I continue to supervise all meals at home and she eats everything she is supposed to. She is having a problem with lunch in school. Last year she was supervised in a private room for 5 months. She went back to eating with her class at the beginning of the year. She will not bring her lunch because nobody brings their own lunch as the school provides lunch. The school is inconsistent in telling me what she eats and when they do, she is clearly not taking as much as she needs to . Part of the problem is they don't really serve enough foods. It is usually only a starch and bread. Also, kids in her class don't really eat lunch and it is not socially acceptable to eat lunch. They do have also cream cheese and tuna. She usually takes a small amount of the starch and one bread with a tiny amount of cream cheese or tuna. I discussed with her appropriate amounts and told her if she doesn't take enough she will have to go back to the private room to be supervised. I don't really want to do this because I think we need to work through this step, but I am relying on the school to help me work through it and they are not able to consistently do this. At home she is able to make herself a normal sandwich or pour herself a whole bowl of cereal but I need to be there to insist that she takes something else besides just a sandwich or cereal. Anybody dealt with this problem with school lunch?
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scaredmom
There are so many layers about this issue, as I think about it.
1) she cannot eat enough on her own at school and choices are not “enough”
2) no other kids bring their lunch to school

My priority would be to ensure she gets enough food. How about taking some extra food with her to add to the school choices and be there a couple of time per week. I am thinking about a slow titration into the “system” for her and you. 
I glean, from your note, that she cannot do this herself. I see the social issues too, about bringing your own lunch when no one else does. I would let her and teachers know that her nutritional needs are different. For your d to know that too and it is ok to bring her own stuff that she needs to eat.
My d brings a high calorie and high carbohydrate meal with juice and one boy commented that juice ie sugar is bad. Well d told him everyone’s body needs different things and that is what her body needs.
it worked and he did not ask or discuss again.
I am not sure if that helps but thinking about combining the school lunch and your own additions and being there for support sometimes might be a good way to negotiate this current issue.
The best of all possibilities to begin with and tweak as you go along.

XXX
Food+more food+time+love+good professional help+ATDT+no exercise+ state not just weight+/- the "right" medicine= healing---> recovery(--->life without ED)
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Ronson
This is difficult - we give a larger breakfast (500 calories) so she can have a slightly smaller lunch.  We had the issue of not acceptable to eat lunch last year.  D distanced herself from some of the girls who do this and found some friends who eat a better lunch.  We discussed the options (ours are limited too) and have an in school lunch and a down town lunch.  Can she have extra at break ?  Can she also have something directly when in from school.  It is so hard when their friends don’t eat.  
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tina72
Can you give her a smoothie to drink with the lunch?
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
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debra18
I do make up for it at home and she continues to drink two high calorie drinks at home. Her weight and mood is good. She will not bring anything from home. I did ask the school to have cereal and milk also. If she would drink milk with the lunch she is eating I would be ok with it. In terms of calories, she is getting in enough during the day . I am worried that she might feel hungry still but cannot eat because it's not socially acceptable
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tina72
So maybe giving her one of the drinks to have it with lunch would be a solution. They can easily check if she drank it, she will not feel hungry and the drink can give her more energy than the lunch itself and it is maybe socially acceptable to drink something with the lunch than have a different lunch. Maybe she can even set a new trend. When my d took a smoothie to school last year some other girls started to have smoothies with them, too. They thought it is trendy 🙂.

For long term I would think about talking to the school about that bad lunch. I think in 2019 parents could expect that their kids get a fulnurished meal for lunch in school.
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
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scaredmom

I agree with tina72, about the fact that the lunch is not "good enough" and it is sad the no food for lunch is the "norm".
I would try best to get appropriate calories in at lunch no matter what, as going forward that is what would be best to get rid of ED.
I would think that allowing her less at lunch does not set the best example in the long run
Hard stuff, and fighting norms!

All the best,
XXX

Food+more food+time+love+good professional help+ATDT+no exercise+ state not just weight+/- the "right" medicine= healing---> recovery(--->life without ED)
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debra18
Yeah I think my problem is that I have to rely on the school to give reports every day and I know it's hard on them
 Also, I want a schedule of what lunches will be served for the day . If they tell me in advance,I will discuss with her what she needs to eat and they will confirm if she ate it. I don't see any other way around. If this is done consistently, my daughter will give up and eat what she is supposed to. It's just hard to rely on the school to do their part
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Kali

Hi Debra18,

At the stage where we started to let my d. try to lunch on her own, we were monitoring her weight. When it turned out that she hadn't been eating enough at lunch on her own, (she lost weight) we tightened things up so that she was only eating 3 lunches out of all the weeks meals while at school on her own. It was a little different since my d. was 18 at the time and I know your daughter is younger. I know you said you don't want her to have to be supervised in a separate room again, but maybe she could eat in the supervised room 2 or 3 days a week for example, and if she is eating properly the other days it can then be increased to 3, then 4, and so on. Sometimes recovery is not a straight line and it helps to go backwards a little and increase supervision.

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Part of the problem is they don't really serve enough foods. It is usually only a starch and bread. Also, kids in her class don't really eat lunch and it is not socially acceptable to eat lunch. 

I don't understand why the school is not serving enough foods, and why the kids in the class are not eating lunch and it is not socially acceptable to do so. This seems like an issue to take up with the school and the culture there. 

warmly,

Kali

Food=Love
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debra18
Yes thank you everyone. I will think about going back to increased supervision and can go once or twice a week to eat with her in the car.
Yes it's very difficult. The school thinks it's normal that kids don't eat lunch and probably the reason they don't serve more
 They don't think anyone will eat it anyway. I will keep working on it, but they think it's my daughter's problem.
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mimi321
Feeling angry on your behalf, Debra, at your school's attitude. Whenever I got a whiff of that attitude, that if only my D needed it then it wasn't important, it made me angry and I pushed back. If it is your D's problem, it is their problem. Is she not an important part of the student body? What kind of culture of caring is that? I also liked to point out that if their approach negatively affected my D, it surely affected others at least in some similar way. 

This might be worth sharing with them from Eva:

HOW SCHOOLS, PARENTS AND CLINICIANS WORK TOGETHER TO TREAT PUPILS WITH AN EATING DISORDER

I think going with the stated expectation that they have a role to play is important. 

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For the young person to be able to attend school, you need to provide an environment that is compatible with treatment. Get the following right and you will be part of a pupil’s recovery. The converse is that if you don’t attend to these, recovery may be extra difficult or impossible:

you make it possible for the pupil to eat as required while in school
you attend to the stress of school work or difficulties with peers
your school gives helpful messages and avoids harmful ones


https://anorexiafamily.com/team-school-parent-clinician-eating-disorder/

There is more from that page that would be helpful, too, but surely providing adequate nutrition for good student health and learning should be a priority, and doing the opposite can send quite a harmful message. Sometimes crafting a carefully worded letter with resources like Eva's can be quite helpful.
Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. - A. A. Milne
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tina72
I do not remember at the moment wether you are located in US or UK but I read somewhere that NHS has nutritional standards for school lunch and I think WHO has also and maybe it is worth to fight for that and get the other parents of the kids in school on board.

"The school thinks it's normal that kids don't eat lunch and probably the reason they don't serve more
 They don't think anyone will eat it anyway."
I think in 2019 this is actually a scandal. Here in Germany the schools fight each other which school serves the better and healthier and organic lunch.
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
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debra18
Mimi,.I appreciate you feeling angry for me. I tried giving them materials from Everything Musby to read and gave them Brave Girl Eating to read. They didn't read anything. I tried having a professional write a letter on my behalf and they got angry that I got someone else involved.
Tina, I am in the US. It is a private girls school. They use the government standards in a strange way. I had to fight for them to have white bread instead of brown bread because nobody including my daughter liked the brown bread. Now I am asking them to put cereal. They put only plain Cheerios because they said they are not allowed to have sugar cereals. Today I found out from my daughter they have only plates, not bowls (they are supposed to have plates that are divided with different sections according to government standards). That's part of the problem because my daughter only knows how to serve herself from a bowl. And if they are serving cereal, she has to eat it in a small plastic cup . I hope my daughter will recover and I can help other parents work with schools. It is very difficult. Does anyone in the US know what public schools are supposed to serve?
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tina72
Maybe you will find something here:
https://schoolnutrition.org/aboutschoolmeals/schoolnutritionstandards/
https://meals4kids.org/federal-nutrition-standards-school-meals
https://www.fns.usda.gov/school-meals/nutrition-standards-school-meals
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
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debra18
Tina,I just read this and it's says only low fat or fat free milk must be served and only whole grains. Exactly what the school said. They were serving whole wheat bread and low fat milk. 
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mimi321
Oh, how frustrating! This does sound very difficult as on the one hand you've tried advocating for your daughter, but on the other they seem to either dismiss your concerns or get their backs up when you persist. This illness can wear us down along with dealing with resistance from those around us, so it is completely understandable if you just do what you have to do for your D and your own circumstance at this time. Hope you find a good solution for your D.
Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. - A. A. Milne
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tina72
The Trump government changed that last year I read. Now white grain is allowed, too. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-trump-administration-is-making-school-lunches-less-healthy-again/2018/12/18/3240091a-fe31-11e8-ad40-cdfd0e0dd65a_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.fde291897842
It is for sure ridiculous to cut out fat and sugar totally. And I think there must be a total for calories that they need to serve at least. It might not be enough for your d anyway, so maybe delay that fight and make sure she gets enough.

Does that help? http://www.chefannfoundation.org/for-parents/parent-advocacy-toolkit

Cereals from a plate is totally senseless. Do they eat them without milk?

I also read there that "School lunches must also provide one-third of the recommended daily allowances of calories". Is that the case?
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
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debra18
They were eating the cereal from small plastic cups. They said they will start putting bowls on the table.
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debra18
It is interesting it says that if a child has a medical issue and needs accomodations they can get a note from a medical doctor and the government will reimburse it. I would think this would be helpful to people in the US. They could probably get smoothies and milkshakes paid for.
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tina72
Oh, you should really ask for this, that would be great! Keep us updated about that as it will be interesting for other parents in the US!
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
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debra18
Yes I will let you know what I find out.
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debra18
The school told me they had pizza and she only at half a slice.
 So I do  think she needs more supervision. I will go to the school tomorrow and eat with her in the car .
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debra18
She came home and said she ate other things before the pizza and the person didn't  see because she came down after my daughter ate it . This did  happen before and the school admitted it was possible. I told her I am coming to the school to eat with her in the car tomorrow anyway. 
I am still looking for the current school lunch guidelines. The ones you put Tina were from several years ago and even the government website seems to have only the old guidelines. So if anyone finds them, let me know. Thanks!
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scaredmom
I think that is a good plan, debra18.
I did get medical permission for d to eat in class 2 years ago. It was helpful  and the school did not fuss.
All the best,
XXX
Food+more food+time+love+good professional help+ATDT+no exercise+ state not just weight+/- the "right" medicine= healing---> recovery(--->life without ED)
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mimi321
Sounds like a good plan for your peace of mind. My D still needs lunch supervision since September (her Dad or me) and I don't see this changing any time soon. Up until Christmas she ate in the car with me, and since then eats in her father's office at school (slightly less supervised), but she doesn't really feel comfortable eating in the cafeteria with her friends, just because, although she has done it on occasion. I think that would be challenging for most kids to eat with peers who think eating lunch is "uncool" 🙄, it may be too much for our ED kids to take on that extra challenge on their own. I think they will show us when they're ready. Maybe her peergroup will outgrow that notion at some point and she will be further along. 
Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. - A. A. Milne
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