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

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It's been a year and three quarters since my D was in hospital and on NG feeds. She made massive gains after getting out, both mentally and weight wise. We got her up to the highest weight she's ever been since she was 11/12 and started her ED.

Things looked and seemed great and she started Uni this year studying nursing. Originally planned on going straight to med school, but we decided it was better to put it off and choose a less stressful pathway to get there. Things looked good, but we noticed an uptick of anxiety around Christmas/New Year's (Uni begins in late Feb here in Aus, so it was expected). Anxiety is a huge trigger for my D's ED, as it seems to be her go to coping method.

After a week or two at Uni, anxiety seemed to really dissipate and while I thought she looked smaller the scales at the therapists didn't show a significant change. Now, the appearance change is very obvious and she has come clean about some of the water loading but I'm sure it's still happening as she is looking skinnier and skinnier but the scales showing maintence/gain. Bloods have been all over the place too, but she has also caught a couple bugs over the last few months that would explain some of it.

Obviously, we want to get on this quick smart but it's a horrific time as she's turning 18 in August and therefore will be too old to see her current psychologist who she has seen for years and been a god send. Frustratingly, no one seems to be taking this dip in weight seriously hoping that she'll dig herself out (unlikely!!! She is so intelligent in many aspects and can say what they want to hear, but can't act on it) or that she's still water loading. The faking weight is a very new behaviour of hers, as in the past we've struggled to get her to eat/drink on days she needs to be weighed. Because of this, and her coming clean about one incident no one seems to be considering this is now an ongoing issue. She also isn't purging, which has previously been a huge part of her behaviour pattern. She's just been eating way less and possibly not at all on the two weekends I had to leave to help out my parents. Her not b/ping is one of the biggest reasons no one has been raising the alarm bells.

I'm still hoping this can be caught early, though. We're in the most stressful 3 week period at Uni and then she has a little break. I'm hoping on that break we will have the chance to really tackle this as her anxiety won't be so bad. We've found during school/exam times is when her ED/anxiety is the worst and as soon as she is on holidays all the behaviours lessen.

Her father is being particularly unhelpful and I don't know how to get through to him that he needs to stop it. He has always valued thinner women and healthy eating and has always been on to our d about that since a young age (she has always been very petite and a picky eater). He's noticed the weight loss and has taken to praising how much better she looks now that she's lost that 'recovery chub'. Keeps talking about how she no longer is under hawk eyes and can take her weight seriously now, that she is much more beautiful like this and makes disparaging comments whenever she eats foods he perceives as unhealthy. 

This isn't a new behaviour, while she was at her worst weight wise and had to be monitored in hospital he would claim that she could continue losing and improve her heart and blood pressure problems if she just ate superfoods. This is contradictory to most anorexic children, but my D's heart became tachycardic with the more weight she lost. Her father jumped on that and told her she needed to exercise more and 'trim down' to improve it. Last time he sort of backed off after D had heart complications and then seizures from malnutrition that lead to the NG tube. But now he thinks we're fully past this and is trying to 'help' our D achieve an attractive weight for herself. His preferred 'look' for our D places her at quite underweight and isn't healthy for her at all, but he's convinced she'd be healthier than her and people will love her more if she looked like thi

He loves our d very much, but he has very backward ways of thinking, won't listen to me or the therapist (psychology is con art in his opinion). Do you guys have any experience with trying to get through to family members like this? Especially father's, because I don't know how to explain to him that what he finds attractive/healthy is not good for her. We've had many discussions about him claiming that no men like bigger girls and if she wants to be loved/find a good partner she needs to look good for them.

To put this in some perspective, we managed to get her up to a BMI 21 at the end of last year. She's now lost about 6 kgs over 3 and a bit months, and in April was losing a kilo a week. We've slowed it down, but if I'm right about her water loading she's still losing/even lower. She's now a BMI of 18.02, and we can't afford for her to get any lower. Dad is not very interested in numbers, but likes to say she looked best at 42 kgs. She was a BMI of 16 and was having those severe health complications then, but he doesn't seem to understand that no matter how health she eats a body cannot sustain that weight. I need help both on the catching the relapse front (especially if you have advice for nearly adult/uni student. She still lives at home with us, thank god, though) and getting through to my ex, or at the very least mitigating the absolute disaster he is being
Firstly big hug! I will respond a bit later when I have more time.
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)
TouchandGo, I don't even know where to begin with what I have to say about what ex H is doing to your D's mental health, her self esteem and confidence in herself. I DO know that I can't say it on this forum!! All I will say is that he is not doing 'right' by your D and doesn't have her health (most importantly her health) and best interests in his thoughts when he says things like that!

Apologies, I'm extremely angry, you have previously gotten her to a healthy weight and he just wants her to be at a low weight - WHY - BECAUSE SHE WILL BE LOVED MORE.  Doesn't he understand that love, acceptance of people as they are, isn't weighed in kilograms, pounds etc? It's the beautiful people inside all types of bodies that give, accept love, and all that goes with it that makes the world go round!
Your ex husbands stupidity and shallow mindedness is unbelievable. I know we say parents don't cause eating disorders but if that is his prevailing attitude it is incredibly reinforcing to ED's. I can't really help you in getting him on board. It may be better coming from the therapist, or even better a doctor since psychology is not a "real science". 

Since you have been so happy with your therapist is there a particular reason that you will need to change after 18? Even though most therapists are divided into child or adult therapists there registrations are rarely so specific. My D at 22 still sees her child and adolescent psychiatrist, with a view to seeing him in the longer term. The only problem tends to come from using public services which then truly do have age limits though it doesn't usually have to happen on the day. My D was able to use the children's eating disorder service until the end of the year after she turned 18. 
D diagnosed restrictive AN June 2010 age 13.5. Weight restored July 2012. Relapse and now clawing our way back. Treatment: multiple hospitalisations and individual and family therapy.
My D also suffers from tachycardia, althought she is now WR. It looks like it will take some time for her heart to heal properly. Her blood pressure is low (not unhealthy) but we've come to accept that, after 12 months of the same readings, that is where her blood pressure is.

How old is your D? If she's going to UNI (I'm in Aus also) she would probably be 17.

As my D has only just turned 15, I hope the 'wise old rabbits' on this forum can give you more advice.

I send hugs and empathy. You know your daughter and what she needs.
Thank you Foodsupport, you have said what I didn't feel I could!!

I am sorry thing are so yucky right now.
Is there a way to get her out of school for medical reasons and regroup and get the weight on? I agree with all above. I know many unis have accommodations for mental and physical ailments. So that there is more time for assignments, exams and exams in different rooms.
Do you have incentives by which you can withhold in order for her to gain the weight. If you pay for school, can you have contract where she has to gain and maintain or no funding for school? I see in my d when she has anxiety, she tends to eat less too.

Can we help you with ideas to get her weight back on and then some?
AS for the waterloading - do they make her pee in a cup and test the specific gravity prior to weighing? f the SG is around 1 that is waterloading. She should be weighed naked in a gown and some have hidden weights in the most unusual places so getting them to do a few jumping jacks prior to weighing will dislodge the items then you will get a true weight.
Mid arm circumference can also work done as a better measurement and takes water loading  out of the equation

Is there a way she can get the same therapist to continue if she has a good therapeutic relationship already with her?
First is her health, physical and mental then all the other stuff and that includes school. Is there a way to sign a consent for you to be part of her care from the age of 18 onwards?

As for your ex, I am sorry.
I am not sure what you can do as he has lived with ed too as you have. And I sometimes wish they could see it. My H could not and did not read anything about ED. He just took my cues and followed me and although I would have liked him to understand what was going on and participate fully, it was better than undermining me.
Some may tell your ex to read, but if he is so "healthy" minded, I don't think he would. Until he hears or sees it somewhere else, I don't think he will get it.
For example:. sometimes the motivation needed to try to change has to be a big kick of reality. For some illnesses until someone realizes that they can actually die from it, they may not feel compelled to make changes (maybe diabetes is a an example here 😊)
Is there a way just to get him to not say or do anything about ED? and that you do it all. I know it is such a burden, but he is not helpful. I actually tell my h off when he says something stupid. I know you have tried many things to no avail, it seems. I wish I had the magic answers for those issues and so we could let everyone know what ED really is. Hmm as she lives with you can you limit the time she spends with him for awhile especially keep her away from him when it comes to food and meals?
Are there other positive male role models that she can tap into to ensure her feeling about herself are not driven by her father?



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)
I have been trying to find publishable words for your ex and I’m still struggling, it’s clear he is deeply misogynistic and can do immense damage to your daughter.

I’m just not sure the answer here, I do know I’d keep them apart by any means possible and I’d have to rip him apart for his stupidity.  I thought my ex was bad but his faults are plain ignorance rather than what appears to be wilful sabotage.  I’d consider deferring Uni for a year and seeing if it’s possible to have a (male I guess) doctor spell things out for him.   
Sending you a big hug, and also asking you to prepare for battle.  The weight loss you describe over 3 months or so is cause for concern, and it sounds to me as if your d is in relapse.  Transitions are particularly difficult for anyone with a history of ED and require extra attention to weather these significant times in one's life, such as going off to uni, starting a new job, getting married, having a child.  It is considered prudent to have at least a good year of strong recovery under the belt before going off to uni.  Your d may need to take a medical leave, in order to get herself into the best possible physical and mental shape to continue with her academic/career path.  She may not wish to do this, but you as a parent and trusted support may need to insist.  Having financial leverage may be a help.

You have the added stress of an ex who is not supportive, and in fact, very detrimental in helping your d to move forward into robust recovery.  As has been suggested, continuing with the pediatric provider who has served your d well sounds like a good move.  Even though she will not technically be a child, many medical providers will continue to care for established patients for several years beyond the standard time frame.  Having a trusted provider who knows your d and family well can only be an asset.  Would this person be helpful in speaking/communicating with your ex about the challenging situation your d is facing at present?

You may find it helpful to refer to resources aimed at college readiness and relapse prevention.  Here is an article on college readiness and another for a relapse prevention plan by a F.E.A.S.T. Advisor, Dr. Lauren Muhlheim.

One of my favo(u)rite resources for parents of kids preparing to go away to uni is from Dr. Sarah Ravin.  It's called Leaving the Nest:10 Tips for Parents.  You can find the link to it here.  Perhaps you can show this to your ex, to try to get his buy-in on supporting your d into strong recovery.

Sending warm support to you, as you navigate this challenging time.
It is good to not only hope to be successful, but to expect it and accept it--Maya Angelou
Hi Touch and Go,

I'm sorry your ex is being such a pill.
Can you let him know that ANY comments about your daughter's weight to her are NOT HELPFUL (and yes I am shouting) and that he needs to STOP.
and that he can talk about anything else with her he wants but weight and appearance are OFF LIMITS. It sounds like your ex has some disordered thinking about weight and appearance and it is best for your daughter if he keeps those opinions to himself. How much time does she spend with him and does she eat with him? If so what do the meals look like at his house? 

As for her weight loss, she is still living at home, right? Can you bump up the calories? How many meals do you eat together each week? Perhaps you can look at some practical ways about how you can increase her intake so as to get her going in an upward trajectory instead of downward.


Sending you support 
Your exh is beyond words. 
I dont think there is anything you can say to change him. Does he have some kind of ED himself? Or is it just narcissistic control? 
I know advice is to present united front but as he is not playing along I'd be focusing on minimising her exposure to him
Tricky as she is old enough to organise her own time etc. 
Does she recognise he is detrimental to her health?
As for changing to adult services, does her existing therapist see adults? Privately if necessary? 
"Keeps talking about how she no longer is under hawk eyes and can take her weight seriously now, that she is much more beautiful like this and makes disparaging comments whenever she eats foods he perceives as unhealthy."

I somehow missed your post, sorry. My d started University last October with a very tight safety net and I feel that they need boundaries and rules for a very long time. She is there on a reduced schedule, only 3 days in semester 1 and now 4 days in semester 2 and we will not increase that at the moment. She eats breakfast and dinner at home 7 days a week and lunch 3 days a week. She has to eat lunch in the cafeteria every day and must stick to the 3 meals 2 snacks rule (we never had 3 snacks). If she loses more than 2 kg she has 2 weeks to correct that in the right direction or needs to have a gap semester and eat all meals at home again. Up to now that works (knocking on wood). We have a contract what we do for her and what she needs to do for that.

For your ex: I would love to send him some very hard photos of very thin anorexic women that are nearly dying to wake him up! He is for sure not knowing what he is talking about. That is very sad. If he would love his d he would not say that.

Nobody looks good being underweight. And it is ridiculous to say to her she will not find a partner at BMI 21. And that is for sure not true. In my ds school the curvy girls were the first that had a boyfriends and not the ones that looked like being 13...
That is really dangerous what he is doing and I have really no idea how to stopp that. Can the professionals speak a hard word with him?
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.