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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Hi all,
My daughter came to me a week ago asking for help. She had been severely restricting for 2 weeks and months before that. I knew she had lost weight and had tried to intervene many time but she was not receptive at all. I hadn't realized the last 2 weeks her restriction had been to virtually nothing. Anyway, she wanted help and I of course was so happy to be there for her. I encouraged her to listen to her hunger cues and got her in to see an eating disorder dietician ASAP (she had already seen the dietician once as i was concerned). She has her first appt with the eating disotrder therapist on Monday. The dietician encouraged her to eat at least 3 meals and 3 snacks and didn't put upper limits on her food intake which is good.

She's was doing great but a week later she is breaking down and having periods where she is continues to have extreme hunger and eating large amounts of food and then feeling horrible about it. Everything I say to her about how this is ok, is the wrong thing. She doesn't want to gain weight, he weight was never "too low" according to BMI. At her highest I think she was above the high BMI (not sure i never checked or cared, she's perfect no matter what). She fears with all this eating she will go back to that weight. Any advice on how I can best support her or the right things to say? I reminded her about her missed period about the activities she likes doing that she can't do if she isn't eating, that these thoughts are the ED talking. the fullness she sees in her face, legs and arms is likely fluid retention (I can't see it). She isn't ready to hear there is nothing wrong with gaining weight or fat isn't bad though all those things are true. 

Thanks so much,
Welcome to the forum.   This sound very normal and expected, although many with eating disorders don't want to be tortured by the thoughts, they also don't want to gain weight either, in fact the thought of gaining weight can be extremely distressing. 

Unfortunately on the way back to normalised eating it is likely your daughter is going to need to regain much of, if not all of the weight she has lost. "Binge eating" extreme hunger are also common reactions at this stage. 

Trying to explain all this to your daughter may not go so well. Letting her know that it is normal to be hungry and to respond to those cues is helpful. Encouraging her to have her three meals and snacks is also good. Not engaging with the "fat talk" is generally the best way forward. So acknowledging that she feels worried and this is normal, but then redirecting her to something else. 
D diagnosed restrictive AN June 2010 age 13. Initially weight restored 2012. Relapse and continuously edging towards recovery. Treatment: multiple hospitalisations and individual and family therapy.
Thank you for your reply. According to her, her highest weight might have been due to her pre-anorexia emotional eating (binge style) due to stressful situations in the house. I can’t imagine her ever accepting that weight again without relapsing but I hope with the help of the therapist and dietician and support of me and her family, she recovers quickly from AN and finds peace with whatever weight she ends up at.
Most of them have a genetic weight range they feel comfortable with and AN voice is off. You need to find out in what weight range her ED behaviour stops. Whatever that will be, it is very individual. Here the professionals set a target weight according only to BMI and without a weight chart that could tell what her former percentile was because we had non (no doctors visits between age 5 and 16 before diagnose). In the end it was only 2 kg more needed here to see a big change in behaviour when brain recovery started.
Be aware that many families here experienced that dietitians and therapists set target weights too low.

Try to avoid the binging by serving meals and snacks every 3-4 hours to keep her blood sugar level constant. I would also not talk too much about all that but only tell her that you will be in charge and help her until her brain has recovered and she can make good food decisions alone again.
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
Hi JulietJane and welcome from me as well.

It's hard to see our children suffer so much and that our words don't comfort them. I showed my d lots of pictures of optical illusions to help her understand that what she preceives about herself was different to what other people see. Even when my d visibly gained weight, I still told her she looked way too skinny, that helped, but you might need to try several phrases before something works for your d. 

Try including protein and fat in all her snacks and meals as it would tell her brain that she's living of the proverbial 'fat of the land'. This could help with the constant feeling of hunger. 

Please feel free to ask more questions  or just to vent, we understand. Sending you lots of hugs 🤗🤗🤗🤗
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

The fact that your d came to you for help is huge. Take that as a good sign that you have a path forward.

The advice above is spot on. 

Extreme hunger in recovery is normal and should not be discouraged. Tine72's suggestion of adding more to meals and snacks may be a way of managing your d feeling remorseful after a 'binge'. 

Good luck.
D fell down the rabbit hole of AN at age 11 after difficulty swallowing followed by rapid weight loss. Progressing well through recovery, but still climbing our way out of the hole.
If you are a podcast person (I listen to them while preparing endless amounts of food!), Tabitha Farrar’s “Eating Disorders Recovery Podcast” has at least one episode devoted to this. See Episode 39 called “Recovery Feast Eating.”