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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Sabine69

We live in Italy and my nearly 17-year-old daughter was diagnosed with anorexia in September 2017, losing about 14kg in 9 months. At the beginning we did not realize the restricting: it started with “I want to become vegetarian”, no pizza, no restaurant, no dinner…..

Until June of last year we managed it together with the responsible of the local center for eating disorders where we had weekly appointments to keep the situation stable, but unfortunately not really to improve the situation regarding her AN thoughts.

Last summer we had the complete breakdown: Three months of school holidays, where we had to work, her little sister (now 14 years old) with important school exams and the whole family very tired and under pressure.

So we decided to send our d for a couple of weeks to my sister’s family in Germany and against medical advice to a summer camp she wanted to go at any price. Our three weeks of holidays in August we passed taking my h to hospital for serious cardiac problems.

The result unfortunately was that at September, instead of returning to school we started our “experience” in the day hospital for eating disorders. We appreciated at the beginning the idea, that they took off a lot pressure of our daily life (8h-30-16.00 with assisted lunch and snacks, some therapeutic activities and a couple of hours of school in the afternoon).

Their approach for alimentation was: “I eat the quantity I feel myself to eat”, what took our d to a recovery at the hospital before Christmas at 33kg – 1,64m of height. After 5 weeks fed with the tube, where we passed 24h a day with her, we managed to get her to eat again (breakfast, two meals and 2 protein drinks, as she would not accept to have any snack), as it was the condition to remove the tube. For Italian law there has to be always one adult with your child in pediatrics – so all supervision and responsibility was still ours, at the exception of the medical controls, in this period obviously essential. During these 5 weeks we promised us that we would do everything possible in order to avoid returning in a similar situation.

Unfortunately the process is very slow when the weight is so low, and we are always struggling with a very poor mood and a very stressed family situation. My h often doubts on our capacities and wants to send her to a specialized clinic, (there are very few in Italy with very long waiting lists), parents (there are many doctors in my family) do criticize our choice…

Do you have any suggestions to improve our daily life? Often I feel as a mix of babysitter and entertainer with very poor results.

Weight goes up more or less as planned (after 3 months ca. 10 kg), but it seems impossible to change anything of the daily routine. Even on Sunday we wake up early for “programmed” meal times.

How do you manage relation with sisters/brothers, with friends, after almost two years of social isolation? She does not want to see anyone, we do not have never guests at home…. , with another d at home it is a so difficult the longer this situation goes on.

I hope to have more strength and tools to handle everything before the summer holidays arrive and the Italian institutions let you alone again…

Sorry for my poor English and open for any suggestion.

Sabine69
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tina72
Hello and welcome from Germany,

before I answer your questions, please be aware that this is a public forum and names can be found by google. If the name on top of your post you have registered with is you real name, think about changing that and contact a moderator for that.

Your name makes me think you might be German, would you like to write in German?
Do not apologize for bad english here, here are a lot of parents that have other mother tongues and need to learn english again 🙂.
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
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tina72
Hallo, erste Hilfe 🙂 bronwen@feast-ed.org
den Namen mit dem Du Dich registriert hast, kannst Du nicht selbst ändern, aber Du bekommst bestimmt gleich Hilfe damit.
Ich antworte HIER im Forum mal lieber Englisch, sonst fühlen sich die anderen Eltern vielleicht ausgeschlossen und es ist auch für Dich hilfreicher, wenn Du viele verschiedene Sichtweisen/Antworten bekommst. Aber wenn Du magst, kannst Du mir eine Privatnachricht schicken. Klick auf meinen Namen oder das Bild und da geht ein Fenster auf und du siehst einen orangenen Pfeil "Email contact". Evtl geht das nicht, falls Du auf dem Handy unterwegs bist und nicht am PC, dann melde Dich nochmal und dann schicke ich Dir meine Emailadresse.

Deinen Post bearbeiten und Dinge löschen oder dazuschreiben kannst Du, wenn Du rechts oben auf die 3 Punkte klickst und dann auf den Bleistift in der Mitte. Ist glaube ich beim letzten Post nötig 😉.
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
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tina72
Sabine69 wrote:

We live in Italy and my nearly 17-year-old daughter was diagnosed with anorexia in September 2017, losing about 14kg in 9 months. At the beginning we did not realize the restricting: it started with “I want to become vegetarian”, no pizza, no restaurant, no dinner…..

That is quite the normal down spiral we all have seen.

Sabine69 wrote:
Their approach for alimentation was: “I eat the quantity I feel myself to eat”, what took our d to a recovery at the hospital before Christmas at 33kg – 1,64m of height. After 5 weeks fed with the tube, where we passed 24h a day with her, we managed to get her to eat again (breakfast, two meals and 2 protein drinks, as she would not accept to have any snack), as it was the condition to remove the tube. For Italian law there has to be always one adult with your child in pediatrics – so all supervision and responsibility was still ours, at the exception of the medical controls, in this period obviously essential. During these 5 weeks we promised us that we would do everything possible in order to avoid returning in a similar situation.


“I eat the quantity I feel myself to eat” This is very old fashioned treatment and if I had waited for my d to feel what she is ready to eat she would be dead now. Best therapy she can get is FBT (Family based therapy), parents in charge for eating until she is able to do that on her own again which is a very long process. I am very impressed that italian law gave you the possibility to feed her in hospital, that is great, we were excluded totally here and needed to learn to feed her at home afterwards which was not easy, I wish the law would be the same here!

Sabine69 wrote:
Unfortunately the process is very slow when the weight is so low, and we are always struggling with a very poor mood and a very stressed family situation. My h often doubts on our capacities and wants to send her to a specialized clinic, (there are very few in Italy with very long waiting lists), parents (there are many doctors in my family) do criticize our choice…


The process is slow and to be honest 10 kg in 3 months is a good average and not very slow. Poor mood and stress is normal until they are at a good weight. Family based therapy is better than most old fashioned hospital therapy in Europe. We were fought by family, friends and the system here but the result walks around in my house and I SEE that I have made the right decision.

Sabine69 wrote:
Do you have any suggestions to improve our daily life? Often I feel as a mix of babysitter and entertainer with very poor results.


It is completely different parenting and you are a babysitter for a long time and that is normal to be honest. Distraction is the key. Try to distract her as much as possible and show her what normal life is about.

Sabine69 wrote:
Weight goes up more or less as planned (after 3 months ca. 10 kg), but it seems impossible to change anything of the daily routine. Even on Sunday we wake up early for “programmed” meal times.


It is important to stick to this daily routine for a long time. My d is 2 years in recovery now and we still have 3 meals 2 snacks and regular meal times and much routine. It makes it easier. To let her sleep in at weekends is not possible for a long time. Until now my d cannot skip any meals but she can have breakfast at weekends at 10 a.m. now.

Sabine69 wrote:
How do you manage relation with sisters/brothers, with friends, after almost two years of social isolation? She does not want to see anyone, we do not have never guests at home…. , with another d at home it is a so difficult the longer this situation goes on.


With more weight that will get better. At the beginning we needed to force her a bit into life again. I invited people between meals for an hour visit or so, I asked her to help me with things outside the house (wash the car or something like that) and to accompany me to a do-it-yourself or furniture store where we planned future renovations we never did in real life after brain recovery started. Be creative 🙂.

Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
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tina72
So, I am back! Sorry for answering so short before. I had to prepare lunch 🙂.
I wrote you a private mail so you can ask all questions in German in addition if you like but please come back here, too, as there are so many helpful parents here and the big plus of this forum is that you get help 24/7 because anyone is always awake here in the FEAST world.
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
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Suzanne
Hello Sabine69, 
hello from the New Jersey!
I'm glad you found FEAST.  It’s been so helpful for me.  We started our journey 4 1/2 months ago      ( really?!) There is so much to learn and this is an incredible place to receive valuable info, support and advice.  3 meals 3 snacks at the same time every day. I haven’t slept in in 4 1/2 months. But it’s working!!!!
sounds easy.  But we all here know how terribly difficult it is.  Refuel when you can and be kind to your self.
stay with it. 
Love and light,
suzanne 
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deenl
Hi Sabine and welcome,

It is very difficult for the family when someone is ill with ED. A dependable routine for at least a year, if not longer, is one of the most important things you can do to help support your daughter. In the beginning, both my husband and I got up early in the weekends but now one of us can stay in bed. Bliss.

We kept life as normal as possible for our other children. We did not always succeed but we tried. I think that one of the ways we can help our kids is to keep showing them and reminding them what normal life is like where at all possible. I did make some changes so it wasn't too hard.

So, after the worst of the refeeding had passed, our other sons still had their friends come and play/visit but they usually didn't stay for meals. Our ED son hated it, of course. He would go off to his room in a bad mood but I did my best to ignore it. I served snacks as usual but would often serve the other kids and their friends in a different room as this was less stressful. The friends loved the tasty treats and that they were allowed to eat them while still playing computer games.

Our son had made some progress by the time the summer holidays started here but he could not eat anywhere outside the home. This meant that we could not go very far in the 2-3 hours between meals and snacks. In the early days, I explained to our other sons that their brother was sick, that it really sucked but that we needed to make some changes to help him get better. I did not want this to go on forever as I though it would be unfair to them. So, for the summer holidays I planned a number of outings. The first were only long enough to need a snack out and about, for example, in the cinema where the son with ED could eat his snack in the dark. But gradually I expanded the trips (lots of trips!) for example, to a museum where we needed to have lunch and a snack and eventually a whole day trip. I brought the food we usually ate because eating outside the home was hard enough. When he had practice eating in different places, I could start buying things in cafés etc.

I know what you mean about being lots of things- when my son was sick I felt like the cook, housekeeper, therapist, nurse, occupational therapist, companion, mother.... But it does get better.

Warm wishes,

d
2015 12yo son restricting but no body image issues, no fat phobia; lost weight IP! Oct 2015 home, stable but no progress. Medical hosp to kick start recovery Feb 2016. Slowly and cautiously gaining weight at home and seeing signs of our real kid.

May 2017 Hovering around WR. Mood great, mostly. Building up hour by hour at school after 18 months at home. Summer 2017 Happy, first trip away in years, food variety, begin socialising. Sept 2017, back to school FT first time in 2 years. [thumb] 2018 growing so fast hard to keep pace with weight
  • 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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Sabine69
Thank you so far for your usefull suggestions and warm words. I will reply tomorrow more detailed, as tuesday is always a long day with weekly balance 😴
we are going on, step by step 💪
Sabine69
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Ronson
I tried to encourage ‘play dates’ for d to keep her social.  She did not want to do this but when someone turned up at the door she would go along with it.  I have friends with kids the same age so arranged things.  We tried to keep things as normal as possible for younger d too.  We couldn’t always have friends round but one of us would take her out.  Our worst time was over the summer holidays last year - such a miserable time.  But we got through it and social life has returned for both daughters 
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Sabine69

Thank you very much to all of you. Deenl, it is for almost two years that we see many few people. I live in Italy since 20 years, but I have still my old friends and parents in Germany. It is very difficult to keep life as normal as possible, because there isn't anything normal left. In the last few months we went to the cinema with the snack in the dark, but only us four. Very often my younger d would not come with us. She tries to defend herself and to find activities with other people. I feel also guilty for this, because it is only "one way", asking support from friends (almost no parents here). You are right Deenl that everyone has to help in order to improve health of our d, but it must also clear that the situation can not last forever.

Therefore, we have to go on with our refeeding, distracting and enjoying every little progress.

In ten days it will be also her 17th birthday – but she told me that she doesn’t want to see anybody. Some ideas?

Yesterday night we managed for the first time to anticipate dinner for half an hour so we went to the cinema – it was a drama until the last second, but at the end she was satisfied!!

Sabine69
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Sabine69
Tina - your advices and considerations are so true and helpful - I think on some aspects we have to work harder!!!
Sabine69
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tina72
Sabine69 wrote:

Thank you very much to all of you. Deenl, it is for almost two years that we see many few people. I live in Italy since 20 years, but I have still my old friends and parents in Germany. It is very difficult to keep life as normal as possible, because there isn't anything normal left. In the last few months we went to the cinema with the snack in the dark, but only us four. Very often my younger d would not come with us. She tries to defend herself and to find activities with other people. I feel also guilty for this, because it is only "one way", asking support from friends (almost no parents here). You are right Deenl that everyone has to help in order to improve health of our d, but it must also clear that the situation can not last forever.

Therefore, we have to go on with our refeeding, distracting and enjoying every little progress.

In ten days it will be also her 17th birthday – but she told me that she doesn’t want to see anybody. Some ideas?

Yesterday night we managed for the first time to anticipate dinner for half an hour so we went to the cinema – it was a drama until the last second, but at the end she was satisfied!!



Great to hear that you managed the cinema yesterday!

Birthday: the 17th birthday of my d 2 years ago was horrible. She did not want to have presents (we bought a small one although), she did not want to have any guests (2 friends were standing in front of the door by incident and she did not send them away) and she baked muffins herself without any fat and sugar that tasted horrible (it was 5 days before she went IP and we had not started to do FBT) and we faked that they are good (but the friend that came around said to her directly that you cannot eat them and I wanted to kiss him for that).
So what would I do in your shoes?
A) have a totally different birthday with no normal birthday party but do something else that is special - go to a spa, have a haircut and makeup or visit a special museum or something like that.
B) celebrate a normal birthday if she wants it or not. I am quite sure that ED does not want to have a birthday party but your d inside might want that. Have 1-2 friends of her coming a round without her knowing before, I am sure she will not show them the door. Have some easy food around that she ate a lot of times up to now and that will be no problem. Try to make the birthday party as small as possible but still a normal birthday.
To give you some hope:
 17th birthday here was horrible, she went IP afterwards
18th birthday she went to the restaurant to have pizza with a few friends
19th birthday we had a big party in the house with a large buffet...🙂
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
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