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

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My 13 year old D was just put into residential this past Friday, after 5 weeks of an intensive day program.  Her weight is not restoring fast enough, hence the need for residential.  I was looking forward to spending time with her every day during lunch and was highly encouraged to do so, since we are on the FBT path.  However today at lunch, she told me (with tears) that she does not want me to be with her during lunch.  She said she doesn’t like how I always tell her to eat, take a bigger bite, pick up the fork, etc... She would rather I come only during visiting hours.  We’ve only been there three days and it just seems like she’s regressing.  Do I honor her request and stay away during mealtime?  I know she’s supported at meals.  I guess I need to?  I want to validate how she feels.  But this really, really is horrible.  Never have I felt so low in my life.
"There is no magic cure, no making it all go away forever.  There are only small steps upward, an easier day, an unexpected laugh, a mirror that doesn't matter anymore."
---Laurie Halse Anderson
Welcome to the club, although so sorry you needed to find us!
I do hope you get the support and information you need to help your d.
I would suggest you read around the FEAST website for more information and the Family Guides.


I understand your upset at her not wishing you to be there at meals times. I have two minds about this
1: She is being supported through the meals by the staff right now and she does wish you to be there I think during other times.
Would it work for both of you at this time, if you do not visit at meals. Then you can reassess when she has been there for awhile and she gets used to the routine. Then you go in a few times per week and then increase to daily?
I do feel it is important that you make your presence and love known to her and you should go regularly whether you help support her at meals or not.

2: the other part is, if you do not do the meals now, will it become more difficult later to do that? If you go in daily and she knows you will be there, it may help her get used to it? Also many of our kids have this secret language ie when they say one thing they mean the opposite. For example when d said for me to leave her at the hospital, she really wanted me to tell her that I wanted her home and that I loved her very much. Also when d said, are we having ice cream after supper, she really wanted it. 

As for validating her feelings, I can tell you what worked and did not work for my d. She hated it when I validated her when eating. She threw fits- violent, physical and verbal fits. 
When we were quiet and did not look at her, she ate better. Still some fights but easier. 

This is also a great book:
Eva Musby's website is also a good resource. 

Also the great stories here of other who have been there are such a wealth of information, ideas and support. 

We all wish to help. Please ask all the questions you have. You are not alone. We really do get it. 
When within yourself you find the road, the right road will open.  (Dejan Stojanovic)

Food+more food+time+love+good professional help+ATDT+no exercise+ state not just weight+/- the "right" medicine= healing---> recovery(--->life without ED)
Thank you.  My D does not like us saying anything remotely encouraging when she eats (learned that a while ago) and so we try really hard not to (sometimes H says something from his heart but of course it is received the wrong way.)  I feel like I should be there, especially since they are encouraging me to (saying that when she leaves residential, we will be her main support and she needs to know and feel that.)  It makes perfect sense to me.  If I do, I run the risk of her shutting down the  meal.  Even if I kept my mouth shut, I think she just does not want me there.  But she says it in such a sad way, crying.  She kept saying today she felt bad we went there and we had to leave way before lunch time was over.

The other thing- because she carries over her food pretty much for every meal, she is spending probably half her day in the dining room.  I would bet when we do visit her during visiting hours, it will be spent in the dining room, watching her eat.  I think what you said about what she says really means the opposite of what she wants- I think that is true with her.  But I don't want to sabotage her.  

God I hate this...but thank you so much for the resources.  I have to believe this will get better, but right now we are deep in the trenches and I absolutely hate it.  
"There is no magic cure, no making it all go away forever.  There are only small steps upward, an easier day, an unexpected laugh, a mirror that doesn't matter anymore."
---Laurie Halse Anderson
Hi Stulken and welcome from me as well.

My d also hated it when we said anything. Also she was so sensitive that she would take even a look the wrong way. I sat with her playing candy crush on the tablet. My d would direct my moves and she would get so involved with the game that she ate automatically. 

In your shoes, I would continue spending lunch time with her, bring some distractions along for both of you. This would make transitioning to the home easier as she would be used to you supervising by that time.
D became obsessed with exercise at age 9 and started eating 'healthy' at age 9.5. Restricting couple of months later. IP for 2 weeks at age 10. Slowly refed for months on Ensures alone, followed by swap over with food at a snails pace. WR after a year at age 11 in March 2017. View my recipes on my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKLW6A6sDO3ZDq8npNm8_ww
My guess is this is ED language. But the question is what is she trying to tell you? It could be that when staff watches her they are not as on top of things so it is easier for her to get away with things like hiding foods. Or maybe like the others say she really means that she wants your support and you should come every time. Go with your instincts and don't take anything personally.
Thank you everybody for your insights. It really helps to put it out there.  I know you all understand.

 I did go see her yesterday- it's the one day of the week there are no designated visiting hours and I needed to see her.  The night before, I told her I was coming during lunch, but would leave as soon as she wanted me to.  When I walked in, I could tell she was happy I was there.  She wanted to just have a few minutes of just talking, with no food in front of her.  But, a dietician brought her plate over to where we were sitting and told her either she needed to begin to eat, so I could stay, or if she chose not to, I would have to leave.  So I encouraged her to take a few bites of her salad and she did it.  I only ended up staying for 15 minutes before we decided I should go.  But I am so glad I did.  She sounded a little more upbeat last night on the phone and said she knew she needed to work on all of her carried-over food, so she can earn privileges (having passes on the weekend and outings during the week with other clients.)  I told her yes- she needs to work on this, one bite at a time, and her mindset was in the right place.  I also decided to write her a letter and bring one to her, each visit.  For encouragement, laughs, inspiration...whatever if takes.  She enjoyed yesterday's letter.  

I know this will get better eventually.  This is her 6th day and we've got a long road.  Tomorrow is my weekly meeting with her care team and this is something I will address with them.
"There is no magic cure, no making it all go away forever.  There are only small steps upward, an easier day, an unexpected laugh, a mirror that doesn't matter anymore."
---Laurie Halse Anderson
 In my experience when my d said that I should NOT do something it was mostly the case that ED did not want it but she desperately wanted me to do it.
You need to eat with her and learn to support her with that, I think that is not negotiable. Can you watch how the nurses do it and do it the same way? Maybe you just talk a bit too much 🙂. My d wanted to just have us around for meals and simply say nothing unless it was needed (for example when she could not finish). We often watched TV or listened to the radio at lunch.
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
Stulken, I think the idea of daily letters is brilliant.  A letter can be read and reread as much as your d desires and is a tangible reminder of your love and support.  I also like the idea of continuing to visit during mealtimes, but perhaps bringing along some distractions, games that can be played on a tablet or similar, as someone else suggested.
When our family went to the 5 Day Multi-Family Intensive at UCSD, one of the activities really sparked an 'aha' moment for my h and I.  We were asked to sit with a child other than our own during mealtime, and just interact with them as we thought best.  Of course, the level of anxiety was not the same as being with our own d during a meal, and we could distract the other kid much more easily with questions, comments etc that had nothing to do with food or the meal.  The takeaway for us as parents was to disengage as much as possible from any discussion or reaction about food eaten, and just be supportive with our presence and providing distraction.  Not sure if this resonates with you, but if so, it might be worth a try.
Hang in there!
It is good to not only hope to be successful, but to expect it and accept it--Maya Angelou
When my d was IP and refused to see us or to talk to us I started to write her texts and cards and send her little gifts. And of course we visited although she (or better ED) did not want to see us.
I really thought that she has deleted all my texts and thrown away all cards and small gifts. I was very surprised when she came home and I saw that she had collected every single item and not deleted any text from me...
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.