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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We are in early stages of diagnosis and beginning FBT refeeding.  She is medically stable and gained a few pounds so is visibly healthy to uninitiated.  She is also mostly cooperative with Magic Plate and family monitoring after meals,  so all is going pretty well right now.  I say that with some hesitation because we are so early in this, just seeing medical dr and excellent nutritionist,  and still working on lining up therapist for d, and learning more everyday.  My d has asked us to not tell her grandparents about her ed when they come visit for a week this holiday season.  She also does not want to tell school etc.  Another d may be able to monitor d's lunches at school without school doing anything, so technically it may be possible for school not having to know.  I have very mixed feelings about who should know about the ed.  I am not ashamed that she has an ed, but I worry about adverse attention from peers and even hyper-competitive and critical parents who are too involved (mucking about under the pretense of volunteering) in the school.  In our small town the news would get out everywhere, and I am not sure that would be helpful for d.  At this early stage our immediate family has done a good job circling the wagons around my d and feel like we are making good progress.  Would like advice.  
Sometimes it just depends.it can depend on the severity of the anorexia, any comorbids that come along with it and whether or not you have good support.
I have a couple of pieces of advice- I would let the school know and I would put an adult in charge of supervising eating.a sibling can be lashed out at, coerced into lying for your ed daughter and in truth-it's just not their job to be the adult here.refeeding is the job of the adults around your d and your other children's only job is to continue to be loving siblings to their sick one.its too much responsibility.
In terms of grandparents knowing-well how would you hide it?thats just not realistic if they are staying with you.otherwise they will say the wrong thing and may accidentally side with the anorexia "she looks fine.why are you feeding her so much?leave the poor girl alone".
You definitely don't want that happening.
Anorexia thrives in darkness.when it is pulled into the light, that is when you see how much it is actually affecting her.
I personally think it's important the school knows-they can then stop any physical education classes, and depending on where you are in the world, the school nurse can supervise lunch.
However I don't think it's important that everyone knows-just the relevant people.for us the onset was rapid and involved many different things-vomiting, food hiding, exercise compulsion and cutting.in those circumstances we had to let everyone around d know what was going on.
It really depends on what is happening with your ds anorexia.but my advice about the siblings involvement stands.i went to the school to do lunch with d and that's what most parents have to do if they want their kids at school.if they can't, they ask an adult.dont ask her friends to monitor-because I tried this and they can't watch them properly either.my d just put the food up her sleeves and put it in the bin later.then she spent lunch going up and down stairs to make up for eating.i shouldn't have asked her friend anyway .its one of my many regrets that I tried this.
Sounds like FBT is going well so just keep going with it.
Many with eating disorders want to hide the illness, as sotired has said it thrives on secrecy. I also feel however that not everyone needs to know there is an illness present. Those on the need to know list for me are immediate family and close relatives (I would include grandparents) - these people need education on what is and what is not an eating disorder and how they can help, the school also needs this information, and close friends are also on the list. If you would tell them about a cancer diagnosis I would tell them, after all eating disorders have the same mortality as many childhood cancers. 
D diagnosed restrictive AN June 2010 age 13. Mostly recovered 10 years later.  Treatment: multiple hospitalisations and individual and family therapy.
Hi babycake - Welcome to the club no one wants to join.

It sounds like you are off to a good start in dealing with this horrible illness.  So glad to hear you are getting a professional team together and starting to get the weight back on.

It's tricky to sort out who needs to know what.  I think most find that the school needs to know because some sort of school modifications are often necessary (excusing absences and tardies, being excused from health topics or having them modified, not participating in annual weighings (in the US), etc.).  Of course not everyone in the school needs to know, but usually, some do.  Another reason for talking to school employees about ED is to educate them, but that can wait until later, when your d's own health issues are not so pressing.

Personally, I think there's a pretty compelling argument to alert blood relatives who might benefit from heightened watchfulness with their own kids.  But again, during the early stages, I wouldn't worry about that - I would just worry about what my own d needs.

What my d needed was adult supervision of all meals.  (I think they ALL need that in the early days.)  I made the mistake of tasking non-ED d with lunch supervision a few times, but that was a mistake.  It wasn't fair to non-ED d, and also, she wasn't up to the task.

Please feel free to ask all the questions you like, and please keep us posted. xx

"We are angels of hope, of healing, and of light. Darkness flees from us." -YP 
Hello you have already received some excellent advice.My daughter was diagnosed over a year ago,we are weight restored and slowly trudging through stage 2.We have always talked very openly about her illness in the house and my immediate family and friends know as it has helped in preparing them for potential melt downs she might have in front of them.The school have been very helpful,and I can't imagine getting her to where she is without them knowing. Regular sport had to be stopped,if lunch wasn't being eaten and a weight loss occurred she was told she must eat in the office,she has a twin at school but I felt it was to much to expect her to monitor her sisters eating.She was excluded from class when documentaries relating to food or weight loss were shown.Some of her really close friends know but she doesn't speak about her illness in front of them.We don't publicize it,not because we are embarrassed The complete opposite,I am incredibly proud of her and how hard she is fighting to get better.I just don't want her to define herself as the anorexic.She is so much more than this awful illness.Best of luck.
I think you have to alert the school.  They are responsible for her for a large chunk of week days and what if something went wrong medically?  They can't help her properly if something goes wrong if they are not aware of what is going on.  It would like having a kid who is diabetic but not telling the school. If the kid goes into a diabetic coma or has an episode of hypoglycemia, he/she could die and the school would be helpless because they don't know what is wrong.  Also having sibling watch over your ED daughter is just a set up for trouble in so many ways. 

I have been very open with family and friends about my daughter's ED.  It is nothing to be ashamed.  I have been able to head off several serious relapses because her friends called me to say she was hiding food or just not eating at all at school.  My sister-in-law alerted me to several of her hiding food tricks that I was missing, etc.  I also found help in places I would never have imagined so it has worked out well for us.
When she was first diagnosed, my daughter was adamant that we tell absolutely no one about her illness. While I didn't broadcast her condition widely, I did inform anyone who had a reason to know - school, close friends and family, anyone who might spend significant time with her. The people I informed were extremely valuable as allies - reporting behaviours that concerned them and providing me with much needed emotional support while I was fighting to keep her alive.

As AN lost it's grip on my daughter, her compulsion for secrecy lessened and she has become quite open about her illness. When she applied to college, she wrote a personal essay on how her experiences with AN and depression shaped her sense of self as part of a scholarship application. It must have been compelling, as she received a full tuition scholarship. 

Telling helped me rally a team of supporters, but also let me support others. Because friends know our story, many have reached out to me over the years for recommendations about psychiatrists,  therapists, and mental health resources for their own children. It is gratifying to know that because of the struggles we went through, I can ease those struggles a bit for other families. 
Daughter dx at age 14 with AN and depression. Currently 19 and experiencing a relapse.
My D seemed proud of her illness in kind of a sick way, and I hated that. That said there is no secrecy. She's young (13), and the more eyes on her the better. 
We are three months into recovery for my 15y-o daughter. She did not want anyone to know, but we told her that family had to know. We also talked her into letting school administration know. Even though most of our family is far away, we have had to be at the hospital or travel to the treatment center a lot, and there is no way we could have kept our disrupted lives a secret. Our parents and near relatives also need some coaching on what to say or avoid. Almost all of our interactions center around food, (and food equals love to many grandmothers), so the conversations will be ongoing.

She has told one friend by letter (she hasn't been back to school yet) and has dropped hints with another. Both have been supportive, but young teens don't know how to handle this, so the conversations have been difficult. She is adamant that she doesn't want anyone else to know. Her dad and I feel that secrecy is not the best way to go, but I can also understand not wanting to be the school poster-child for ED. She doesn't have any other close friends, so I am trying to push her a bit to communicate with girls from her past that might be supportive when she does decide to tell someone. 

I wish we could be as honest about this condition as we would be about a broken bone or diabetes. I hope we can get there someday.
Hi, and sorry you have had to find this site.  Having said that, you could not have found a more helpful place. We have always been very open about our d's diagnosis.  This has been an enormous help as nobody has had to second guess that there may be a problem and has been able to support my d.  She is now in stage 2 and doing really well.  She recently started 6th form college and I had told the staff what had been going on over the past 18 months so that they were in the loop so to speak.  However, I was pleasantly surprised when I went to d's parents evening with her personal tutor.  She said that d had actually told her all about the fact that she has had anorexia without any prompting so clearly letting people know is a great help to her too.  I also believe that anorexia likes to lie at the slightest opportunity and that fact that you are up front almost sets the example that lies are not acceptable.