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Do your ED kids stare at / watch you eat?

My s seems to get distracted by others eating at the same time as he is supposed to be eating. He'll literally stare at you with this intense look of disgust and horror on his face, like he can't believe you're putting such things in your mouth. Today we brought in a chicken and potato dish, served him a portion and sat down to eat with him and he just stared at us, watching us eating and when I tried to coach him to pick up his fork and make a start on his he just didn't seem to hear me. It ended with another ng feed.

I've seen him physically flinch a few times while watching others eat. And it really seems to give the ED more strength to bully him into not eating. You can see his anxiety and disgust rising as he watches you. Why does he do this?

Is it better to continue trying to normalise eating with other people or to stop and let him (try to) eat on his own? And maybe work on it later when he's out of hospital? I'm just conscious that we have SO many other things to work on......a ridiculously huge fear food list, hugely debilitating exercise compulsion, getting back to school etc etc......
Hi klb,

My son could not eat with the family for months. He ate at a table in the living room for probably a year with one parent supervising. His dad could sometimes eat with him. We also refed with safe foods only introducing meat during that phase. We would have liked to tackle everything quicker and from the beginning but it just wasn't a possibility. We decided to focus purely on getting his weight up first, nutritional rehabilitation second and everything else later. Took what felt like forever but he is doing really well now.

I think you are doing a great job given a very challenging presentation of the illness. I am on my phone so can't link easily bit I wonder if you have read a thread I started about difficult cases. It is incredible how varied the methods parents have used. You may get some ideas. If you put super resistors in the search box it should pop up.

Wishing you continued strength and courage,

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.


Here is the link deenl was referring to.
I feel ,as an outsider looking in ,that you work on the weight gain first and foremost. Feed through NG and trying to get him to eat a bit on his own first. The eating with others and seeing you eat, I would think is so overwhelming for him right now and he cannot eat on his own yet.
Your son's case is very unique, from what I have seen to date. 
I know it is overwhelming ,the list you have in your mind. Please take it one meal, NG bolus at a time, and try to get him to eat one bite at a time. 

Priorities I see at this time: 

weight gain, food/nutrients anyway you can right now.  But if it upsets him to see you eat, then don't, not yet. He is not ready and right now the social eating is not important. Him eating a bit on his own, is important.
The rest you will tackle, just as you have so far. You have really come a long way since the very first time we "met". It is moving forward for him. He is getting effective treatment. It just takes so, so long.
Sending you strength and support. 

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)
KLB wrote:
Do your ED kids stare at / watch you eat? ... Why does he do this?

KLB, I'm sorry, I don't know the answers to your questions.  I don't remember hearing about kids with NG tube reacting (or not) to people eating in their presence.  I'm not terribly surprised to hear he is acting this way because it's pretty clear he finds food terrifying.  Poor guy.  

Actually, when I got to the bottom of this message, I realized that I do have some vague recollections of ED-kids being profoundly disturbed by someone eating in front of them.  Unfortunately, I can't pull up any details.  

In the early days, I remember wondering how food could cause D so much distress.  And then it hit me that it does (sort of) make sense in a rather twisted way.  Since it is generally considered rude/gross/scary'/etc to see things coming out of the body (mucus, vomit, waste, blood etc.) I can imagine that a troubled mind might also be bothered to see anything going in.

I'm sure that doesn't help - sorry - but I think we all muse about the perplexing reactions we encounter with ED.  It is one huge mystery for sure.

I agree with whoever suggested not eating in front of him at this point.  I can't put my finger on why, but I have a hunch that having him witness this will make it harder for him to consider eating. instead of making it easier.  I do think it's important to expose him to food as best he can tolerate, but only (I guess) in the sense of having him "interact" with it - not having him witnessing others eat.

I hope they are giving him enough nutrition so that he is gaining at a good clip.  That is really what matter for now. Well, that and taking care of yourself as best you can so that you are as strong as possible.

Please let us know if there's any way we can help.

Thinking of you.  xx

"We are angels of hope, of healing, and of light. Darkness flees from us." -YP 
Hi KLB I did use to notice my daughter watch people eat. Sometimes if we were out she would stare at people eating something. I used to distract from that if I saw it as I classed it as ED behaviour although this never put her of eating herself.

I don’t know if this helps but in the early days I couldn’t eat at the same time and help my daughter eat. I had to put all my focus onto her and I would sit very close to her with my arm around the back of the chair and would repeat the mantras over and over again for nearly the whole meal to keep her going. When things got easier I could eat with her but if she stalled I would put down my own fork and go back to that same position and the same mantras. Keep trying different strategies and hopefully you will find something that works! Xx
Thankyou for your replies. I read the thread in the link with some interest and will revisit that when we get him home for tips.

We're going to stop trying to eat with him for now and we may try what you did Warrior. Thankyou. We really want to try and get him eating consistently before he's discharged.