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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I am new to this forum, like 30 minutes new.  Thankful that everyone is here to share their experiences and give the rest of us some hope as right now I am not feeling very hopeful.  My F is 14.  She is the kindest and most loving child and the middle of my 3 kids.  We have started refeeding the week of Thanksgiving and since then she has gone up and down in her weight  (total of 3 pounds gained but down one this week again).  Needless to say the war is on at my house tonight.  She tells me she knows I don't love her as I am pushing her too far to eat more and don't commend her efforts.  Her therapist (maudsley method) has instructed that there is no negotiating.  This is the most painful parenting experience ever.  I hope someone else can relate or I am doing this all wrong.  Threatening taking her out of school, that she is headed to be home schooled and me taking a leave of absence from work or off out of state to Residential treatment.  She resents me horribly.  Everyone I talked to doesn't understand this approach to the treatment of the condition and I am trying to remain firm in my resolve to take charge of her eating but seems counterintuitive to a child who is trying to exert her own control over her life and body.  Thanks for letting me be a part of the conversation

Roseanne, I am so sorry!

Unfortunately, your story is all too familiar here. This is what refeeding looks like, for a good while.

A lot of us find it helpful to mentally distinguish "ED" from our child. Eating disorders create nearly complete personality changes around food, and for many if not most kids, in other aspects of their lives as well.

Please read around, and in particular, may I recommend the resources on the FEAST main site, particularly:

Resistance to Treatment - understanding why ED hates sucessful refeeding and/or other therapies.
How it is that malnutrition causes all these wonky thoughts and behaviors, and how refeeding helps.
And of course, our Parents' Resources page.


(edit typo)
Hi Roseanne

Welcome!  You've found a place where people understand.  We've all been where you are and you don't need to explain how crazy it all is because we have all or are all living it.

My D is also 14.  We struggled with re-feeding at home for several months before she was admitted IP.  She is now WR but out of school completely with massive anxiety.  I have been off work for months.  We do what our children need to get them well, even as they are yelling at us for it.

Yes, this entire process seems very counter intuitive.  I understand more now why some of the things that seemed to make no sense at all were actually the right answers.  First priority is food going in so that healing can begin.

Good luck!  There is a lot of support for you here.  Ask any questions you want or just vent your frustrations.

Colleen in Ontario

Single Mom to DD#1 (20), Autism Spectrum Disorder (diagnosed at 16 1/2), Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety, Panic Disorder
and DD#2 (17), In solid recovery from Restrictive AN, Managing Social Anxiety, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, ASD, finished with IP and FBT, successfully managing school and life

If, at the end of my days, I can say I saved the life of not only my child, but helped to save the life of someone else's child as well, then I have lived a good life.

Hi Roseanne - Welcome.  This forum is like an oasis of sanity in the middle of a vast sea of ... well, you know.

To respond to a few of your points / questions:

The therapist is correct in advising you not to negotiate.  It would be like negotiating with a terrorist (not your d, of course, it is the eating disordered part that is trying to negotiate).  It is also generally futile to try to reason with her about food.  Over time, you will develop a few all-purpose mantras to pull out of your hat when Ed starts trying to negotiate.  I can't tell you how many times I have said, "I'm sorry it's so hard.  Now please take a bite."  Others say "Food is your medicine." I'm sure you will find your own set of stock phrases to pull out of your hat.

When she accuses you of not loving her, do you think it might help to point out that the illness - not you - is responsible for her discomfort? 

This is indeed the worst parenting experience.  It's the pits.  But it does get better.  You said your d resents you terribly, and I'm sure it seems that way.  Underneath the disordered thinking, though, your real d is in there and she is desperately grateful for you help.  She's counting on you to force her to gain weight because she can't do it for herself.  She needs to see that you are wiser and stronger than this vile illness and that you will never give up.  That's another thing I have told my d a million times: I AM going to help you and I will never give up.

I think it might help to reframe the part about threatening to take her out of school.  She needs to know that you are not trying to punish her for something, but you will do whatever it takes to keep her safe.  And that you will continue to do what it takes to keep her safe for as long as needed.

Yes, we can all relate to the part about others not understanding this illness or the kinds of things we need to do.  It is a vile, bizarre illness that most people will have the luxury of never understanding.  If there is someone in particular that you need to help educate, please let us know and someone will surely have suggestions.  But generally speaking, it isn't worth the aggravation to try to help outsiders understand while your d is in the throes of illness.

The most important thing - by far - is getting the necessary nutrition in, every meal, every day.  With lots and lots of extra fats.  (The brain needs huge amounts of fat to repair the damage.)  Your d needs to recover from the starvation.  You're her mom - you know what she needs.  The wise veterans here will help you figure out how to make sure she gets that.

Hang in there.  It does get better.


"We are angels of hope, of healing, and of light. Darkness flees from us." -YP 
You are absolutely doing the right thing by insisting that she eat and gain weight. Your child's brain is not working correctly because it has been starved. She will resent you and tell you all sorts of things because she is sick. Keep feeding her, lots of fats and put that weight back on. Other people may question your approach but do they have a child with an ED? I do. And I fed her about 3,000 calories every day for several months even though she told me I was feeding her too much, even though she cried and said she wanted to die. Today she is doing great. She looks like a normal teenager who eats too much popcorn at movies and has cookies and milk before bed. 
Hi Roseanne.  I am also new here -- I also have a 14 year old daughter just diagnosed at the beginning of December and am currently re-feeding her at home.  There's more info on us in my intro post I put up last night.

My daughter was also extremely resentful of me -- downright angry -- when we started, but I've seen a change in that just in the short time we've been doing this.  Perhaps a tiny part of her is starting to hear my messages that I'm doing this because I love her, that she is the most important thing to me, and that I am not going to let her get sicker or die, even though she's told me that's what she wants.  I'm not expecting this is going to last, but I'm soaking it in while I can!

Hang in there.  Know that you're not alone and we are here for you!

Mom of 15 year old daughter, RAN diagnosed Nov., 2014.  WR June, 2014.
I too am brand new to this site. My daughter O is 16 years old and is at home after 1 yr in a hospital program and 4 suicide attempts. (She had reached her goal weight a few times throughout this process but immediately lost the weight  through restricting and purging. ) She was just released last week from a youth psychiatric ward after her last attempt at suicide. She is at home as we don't kow where to go from here. She is currently in her bed sobbing and refusing to eat. How do I make her eat? I cannot force feed her. When she doesn't eat she does crazy, desperate things. How do I handle this on a daily basis? I cannot leave her alone as she will self-harm. Do I just let her lay in her bed without eating? I'm looking for practical ideas to get to eat. She is so determined and stubborn that I see no way that she will eat.
Roseanne - all very common to those of us in this forum and you are doing the right thing (as heartbreaking as it is).  Most of us have been spit on, food thrown at, thrown up on and generally experienced the wrath that ED brings during re-feeding.  At times I felt as though I was living the exorcist movie...  With food/medicine the healing does eventually start to show as the brain recovers - we are still very much in recovery, however, we have seen slow and steady improvement in my D's mental state as she has moved towards WR.  We have been at this for 18 months (up and down) and still have some ways to go but the glimpses we get are more than enough to fuel us on.

Khann - So heartbreaking and terrifying but many of us have been in the same or similar situations so you are not alone.  You mention a hospital program for a year - was this an ED IP facility or one focused on her psychiatric issues?  Was in a similar situation with our D about 18 months ago (absolute refusal to eat at home, violent outbursts, threats, etc.) and we had no clue what to do.  In the end (rightly or wrongly) we aligned with her GP and hospital team that we would call EMS/911 after x # of refusals which would be followed by NG tube in IP if she refused there.  This cycle occurred 4 times before we eventually got her into a residential facility after the last IP.  Many months later she is home and back in school - still working towards full WR and she does still struggle but we are hopeful for continued progress.  Be prepared for drastic actions - you are saving your daughters life and the steps may not be pretty.  Forget outsiders, in-laws, neighbors, bosses, teachers and anyone else not directly involved with your daughters well being.  Save all your mental energy for your D.

In our prayers and sending you strength...
Dad of daughter with ED
Hi from Michigan as well. Hang in there and believe you are on the right track. Being an MD, I had connections and was able to talk with those doing the research and Muadsley approach wins hands down. We experienced such rough times, my husband now is in therapy for mild PTSD. THIS IS THE HARDEST THING YOU WILL EVER DO! Eating was always required. On occasion, it would take hours to get it in. Only one time did we not get in the required amount of food. If you don't give up, ask them over and over to eat, almost always, there is a breaking point. I had to threaten the use of a feeding tube but never had to do it. Occasionally had to wrestle her to the ground when she totally freaked out and tried to smash her head on the table or otherwise hurt herself. I would tell her I loved her over and over and to eat. On occasion, she would accept an alternative such as a couple of Ensures or other liquid supplements. I tell you this not to scare you but to reassure you that most of us have been through this horrible phase. THe good news, this did not last too long and then she started to eat what we put in front of her. Make sure you give calorie dense foods as well. You can make muffins or shakes that get 800+ calories in one sitting. We can be a phone contact as well if you want. These are tough times to get through but the rewards are great. We were on deaths door at 78lbs and now at 124 lbs. long ways to go mentally but we have come so, so far in less than two years..
16 yo daughter with RAN, diagnosed age 14. Still fighting our way back with highs and lows.
Also, consider reading Helping Your Teenager Beat an Eating Disorder by Lock and LeGrange. Both authors have done, continue to do, research on the Maudsley approach. I spoke with Le grange personally a few times. His advise, get the weight back on asap. Only then, will the brain start to heal. He's right, no amount of drugs will fix this until the nutrition get in.
16 yo daughter with RAN, diagnosed age 14. Still fighting our way back with highs and lows.
Welcome to the forum-we have been where you are. I have a D almost 18 and felt the same way you did when we started refeeding at 13.  My advice is to read all you can, disregard what others around you say (unless they have done this). Your D will say terrible things to you, may kick and scream and physically lash out, but it is her anxiety-fueled ED that is causing this.  You will get your D back, but it takes incredible resolve-do not take anything she says personally right now.   You are in early days -take one day at a time. Finish the day and start anew the next. Her brain needs nutrition and time to heal.

Have you seen the feast family guide series? They may help-you can always print them off and distribute them to people.

I thought the first 6 months would never end. It gets worse before it gets better, but better is your goal. The only way out is through.  Sending strength.
5 years in active recovery; With many, many days of full nutrition and closed loopholes, insight, life experiences and brain maturity we are slowly loosening the safety net
Have you seen this great video by forum member Eva Musby?  Huge help to me:

"We are angels of hope, of healing, and of light. Darkness flees from us." -YP 
Welcome Roseanne (and SCL and Khann)-   Horrid that you have to be here but here is the place to be.  My daughter is now 14, she was dx just before her 11th bday. We had a quick decline and she was ip (in patient) for 8 weeks then we refed at home.  She is a happy, healthy 14 year old now but.....when we were in the trenches I could not imagine how we would get through.

You are right, it is not typical parenting.  I was quite sure I would not see the girl I knew again.  Hang in there.  The learning curve is huge.  

The hall of Fame page is a great place to begin.

Khann:  here are some practical tips for getting our kids to eat.  Basically you have to make not eating not an option.  Read through this link:

The small book "Throwing Starfish Across the Sea" is also a must read for practical tips and tools.

Take a breath and know that it will be difficult but you can get through.  Recovery is possible and our kids get well.  

I tried to get the most calories in the smallest footprint... so dense meals and oil, butter on everything.  Heavy Whipping Cream was a mainstay for years.  3 meals and 3 snacks.

Khann, why don't you begin your own thread and we can help you strategize.  Many, many of us have had to sort out Plan B's when Plan A wasn't working.  For instance, our plan B was the emergency room....two missed meals (meal and snack) and we went down to the er for the NG tube.  It wasn't a plan she was on board with so I had to have back  up to help me get her into the car.  We didn't  have to do this often....mostly she (the ED) needed to know that I was prepared to do it.  The ED needed to feel that there was no choice but to eat. My girl's anxiety was so so high that she needed her back up against the wall.  She will now say that it felt as though I was pushing her out of a plane without a parachute. 

It is not typical parenting for sure...but these are not typical times.  It will get better.  Ask lots of questions-  we get it and we are here to lend whatever support we can.
D dx at 10 years old in June 2011. She is now 16 and happy and healthy.  We were IP for 8 weeks and then refed at home for what felt like forever.  We chased vertical growth for years...as is typical for the age.
Welcome to the forum, a wonderful space of hope and help. Please also look at the high calorie thread!
Slow and steady