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

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YogurtParfait_US

 What caused your child's weight loss, precipitating AN? 324  votes

 Dieting to lose weight 90 votes
27%
 Trying to "eat healthy" 104 votes
32%
 Overtraining for athletics 41 votes
12%
 Fasting for religious event or reason 2 votes
0%
 Fasting for health reasons 2 votes
0%
 Becoming vegetarian/vegan 14 votes
4%
 Illness 22 votes
6%
 Other, or unknown 49 votes
15%
Multiple choice poll. Please sign up or log in to vote.
Okay, trying again--what do you think predominantly caused your child's weight loss that triggered AN? 

This is a MULTIPLE CHOICE poll.

Smiles,
YP
"Hope is a wonderful thing ... but hope by itself is not enough. Hope is the reason to take action, to make a plan and then to change the plan when it isn’t working - over and over and over again if necessary." Hannah Joseph (Let's Feast Friday Reflection, "Just Keep Going," Friday, March 3rd, 2015)
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Cherryusa
My d had pneumonia and lost at least 10 pounds. She gained it back but it became a battle after that to get the weight back off again. D said at some point weight loss was completely out of her control.
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mamabear
Interesting...so far the "eating healthy" is the lead. An interesting thread considering this conversation is going on on a few other threads about school initiatives etc. 
Persistent, consistent vigilance!
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lostmum
My d has so many little contributing facors that just merged into 1 big ball or anorexia
1)unjustifed comments about her build- she was very muscular due to being a commpetitive swimmer
2) up until the age of 12 just before she grew she would fill out giving her chubby cheeks- some one at school called her chipmunk when she was 10
3)very low self esteem
4)lack of confidence
5)unable to voice how she was feeling
6)fear over my health and fear of losing me.
7)wanting to be skinny like 2 of her 'best friends' one of which was in the early stages of anorexia at the time but seems to have turned things around.
8)not wanting to look like me!(im overweight mainly due to severe health issues)
these are just some of the things our d has cited as contributing factors
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Colleen
World Vision's 30-Hour Famine to raise money for starving children in the Third World.  Within a week she had decided to lose 30 pounds and off she went.
Colleen in the great Pacific Northwest, USA

"What some call health, if purchased by perpetual anxiety about diet, isn't much better than tedious disease."
Alexander Pope, 1688-1744
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lesleyh_AUS
My D started to increase exercise /training for state selection in her chosen sport. Two months into D's increase in her training regime she had wisdom teeth removed and could not eat solid foods for 3 weeks. ...... And our story begins!
“A diamond is a piece of charcoal that handled stress exceptionally well.” – Unknown
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Amoma
My 9 yr reports being teased by cousins and an aunt about weight.
"You are going to be huge just like your uncle"
"You should go first because you can make a huge cannonball in the pool"
She read the American Girl Body book section on eating disorders...it became her roadmap. 30 pounds in 3 months lost. And my D with it.
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AnnieK_USA
My D was 11, active in a number of activities, physically very healthy and at the beginning of changes for puberty. She was never teased about anything, had no commercial TV or popular magazines or exposure to any weight talk/dieting at home, although had seen Disney movies. One big difference, though, was that she had always been way more anxious about everything than her peers were. Also, the summer before she got ill with anorexia, she was very unhappy with her very normal-sized body, especially her thighs. I didn't know how unhappy until much later. She decided to "go on a little diet", unbeknownst to me. 20 pounds and a couple of months later she was hospitalized to get her eating again.
Daughter age 28, restrictive anorexia (RAN) age 11-18, then alternating RAN with binge eating disorder and bulimia with laxatives, is in remission from EDs for 3 years after finally finding effective individual therapy. Treatment continues for comorbid disorders of anxiety, ADD and depression. "Perseverance, secret of all triumphs." Victor Hugo
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SeminarLady
I was a healthy 16 year old - 5'2" ... 125 pounds. I never had an issue about my weight (never thought much about it at all) ... then my mother went on Weight Watchers and started serving 'healthy, light meals'. She started to lose weight and so did I. As I lost weight, I wanted to lose more. And then down the rabbit hole I spiraled. Prior to anorexia, I did have social anxiety.

...

My daughter was a healthy, abeit slim teenager who never expressed any issues about body or weight.

She did have social anxiety and anxiety prior to and beyond anorexia.

During her senior year in high school, she became very stressed and anxious about getting into the university of her choice.

She started to lose weight. We just thought it was anxiety.

She went off to university and gained the 'Freshman 10'.
She enjoyed life in the dorm and her classes.
She was doing well.

Second year, she became depressed and saw a therapist.
She started to lose weight again.
And down the rabbit hole she went.

She says that it was studying too hard and 'forgetting to eat' that brought on the anorexia.

I am not sure.

I do know that during her 2nd year, she also went to the gym 1.5 hours a day with her friend - something she had never done in the past and fortunately, does not do now.

...

It's all very curious.

...

Good question that you ask but the answers are not always so clear.

...

Hugs!
Cathy V.
Southern California
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gobsmacked_US
I don't know whether there was one actual trigger. I put "eating healthy" and "illness," but I think "eating healthy" might have been a symptom, not a trigger, and it wasn't exactly "healthier," just more rigid (based on a Michael Pollan's book, Food Rules), and the illness (just a stomach virus) came after we saw other things going on.

Something I've been wondering about: one sign of depression is eating less. Is it possible that some of our children's eating disorders could be triggered because of depression and eating less? This might be the case with my d.

One other thing probably factored in: we homeschooled, and our schedule was all over the place. We had very little consistent structure. A few days a week we had classes that meant that either lunch or dinner was postponed, and I didn't understand the significance of immediate hunger.
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YogurtParfait_US
Depression--that makes sense. I also think that stress can cause reduced appetite. So, depressed/stressed kids might eat less, get out of balance, and whoosh down the rabbit hole, perhaps?

YP
"Hope is a wonderful thing ... but hope by itself is not enough. Hope is the reason to take action, to make a plan and then to change the plan when it isn’t working - over and over and over again if necessary." Hannah Joseph (Let's Feast Friday Reflection, "Just Keep Going," Friday, March 3rd, 2015)
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gobsmacked_US
Yes, but of course only if they already have the genetic tendency toward eating disorders.
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basrplay
I voted healthy eating, sports training and other.  For dd it was a "perfect storm" of healthy eating, elite sports training, uninformed peer comparisons about weight, uninformed peer comments about food intake=become fat, early onset of puberty and changes in body, perfectionism/desire to please.   
basr
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Emily
Back when d was about 10 years old she started getting sick more often, and also taking much longer to recover from simple colds and coughs.  From there it progressed to headaches, migraines, daily stomach aches, eczema on her scalp, grey under her eyes, looking frail, unexplained tiredness and weakness - and a very worried mother.  After several visits to doctors and nearly 4 years later (14 years old), d was finally diagnosed with multiple food allergies and sensitivities, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  We also learnt that CFS causes poor gut function, hence the food allergies, sensitivities and stomach aches.  Due to feeling so much digestive discomfort etc, d was not eating as much - can't blame her.  I remember her being in tears over the pain she was in. We changed d's diet and she put on some weight, but the damage was done.  I noticed changes in her behaviour around food - the usual stuff like, "I don't like margarine anymore" and eating lots of healthy low calorie vegetables.  D's was such a slow descent into AN, or maybe she had an earlier 'flirt' with AN and then pulled away from the behaviour.  Maybe the environmental factors weren't yet strong enough to pull her into the rabbit hole.  She was however, still below her own weight percentile on the growth chart, and by 16 1/2 years old she walked into the 'perfect storm'  - her final year of high school, university entrance exams, and suffering from brain fog and lack of concentration due to still having CFS.  Oh, and of course she was also born with the usual ED personality traits like perfectionism, anxiety, etc.   
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sarabandeUSA
The poll categories seem like secondary triggers to me or behaviors that increase as illness begins and malnourishment increases. 

Puberty (hormonal changes), social anxiety, and depression are likely primary triggers for my daughter.  My daughter's secondary triggers as a preteen were probably medical problems (like bad case of strep throat and unrelated surgery) where we feed her less (or allowed her to eat less) because she was sick and in pain.

Moving beyond a poll, I'm curious how it helps others to think about triggers.  Does this "trigger" information affect how you treat the illness in your home?
mom to teen daughter in remission/recovery; treatment included UCSD's multi-family program and FBT with EXRP & ACT
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basrplay
for me it is interesting to look at these responses and other articles or discussions like this just for the understanding or thinking about what contributes to ed...what others have experienced, if there is some common ground.  As far as primary treatment...no. Everyone with ed needs to be refed. Food is medicine.  But as far a thinking about and asking others how they handled other aspects of ed and treatment...like ocd behaviors, exercise compulsion, etc then yes I suppose it does paly some role in how we approach dd treatment. Sometimes talking about these "triggers" or contributing factors or comordid conditions leads to finding others who sort of arrived from the same place and might be facing similar challenges (beyond the refeeding and malnourishment and brain healing). So in that sense, i find them useful. But, in general, don't like to dwell to much on why, but rather how we can help....
 
basr
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gobsmacked_US
Sarabande, how could I forget puberty? That was definitely something big for our daughter.

I suppose I think about triggers because my daughter can't. I know that I can't go back and change anything, and in some ways I am grateful that if this had to happen, it happened when my d had plenty of time left as a minor, so we could help her. But with the rates of relapse I am seeing, and with my daughter unable to talk at all about her illness, I think that perhaps looking at these possible triggers might be helpful to us going forward, to help prevent relapse and possibly to help our younger daughter learn habits that could prevent her (or her future children) falling prey to ED as well. I know that we can never go back to the disordered eating structure we had before she was diagnosed, that lunch always has to be planned for, and that both my children (and me!) need extra help with organizing not just our desks and our backpacks/purses, but with our eating as well.

I don't worry a whole lot about sports and exercise and nutrition and cooking and keeping our pantry/refrigerator well-stocked, because I know these have never been issues for us, while they might be to some. I look a the places that have been issues for us to see where I can fill in the holes.

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Colleen
Sarabande, I'm not sure that I understand what you mean by 'secondary triggers'.

My daughter has the genetic predisposition to AN--it's always been there and no one knew it.  She needed an event whereby she became malnourished enough for ED to manifest itself.  That's what *I* mean by a 'trigger event.'  For her, it was 30 hours of not eating.  After that event, she decided to go on a diet and lose 30 lbs, so dieting was a 'secondary trigger', I suppose, if that's how you mean it, that really got AN revved up.  The dieting began within a week of the 30-Hour Famine.  The dieting idea itself, I think, was a symptom of AN that had already been started by the famine.

There are plenty of people who don't believe that a period of restriction as short as 30 hours would be enough to trigger a major mental illness like AN.  But it's true for our girl.  We saw it again two years later when she climbed Mount Rainier.  She had one day--12 hours--of overexercising and insufficient intake.  She didn't even lose any weight!  And yet we saw an immediate return of behaviors.  It took about 6 weeks of our interference to quash those behaviors again.

How does this knowledge affect how we treat this illness?  We know our d has a hair trigger for AN.  She can't experiment with vegetarianism or low-fat diets.  She has to eat regular meals and lots of variety.  She can't fall below her range.  She can't.

As long as she keeps her weight up and eats well, she is fine.  It's really very simple with her.  Except for the part about anosognosia...
Colleen in the great Pacific Northwest, USA

"What some call health, if purchased by perpetual anxiety about diet, isn't much better than tedious disease."
Alexander Pope, 1688-1744
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UKMom
As with Colleen, the predisposition, as what I understand it to be, has been there in my D since about the age of 5years - but clearly had no idea.  She and I traced her "disordered eating" regime back to:
1. The healthy eating programme at school
2. onset of puberty - she hated having her periods and discovered if she ate less and lost weight the TOM would go away - she apparently would yo-yo between having TOM and not.  Whenever it came back she started to restrict again - the rest is history.
Our mantra: "Life Stops until you Eat!".  Full recovery is possible; step by step; bite by bite. (D diagnosed at age 15, full w/r obtained one year later, maintained and in full recovery since May 2012)
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Goingtobeatthis_AUS
While the clear onset of anorexia and the related behaviours to us occurred when d lost 4kg trekking in Nepal late 2010 - d now says she has had some anorexic type urges for a couple of years even thought to us she was eating a good amoutn of food and weight was not unusual for her. My feeling is that with puberty, growth (12inches in a coupel fo years), extensive basketball training and other sports, and taking the healthy eating messages from school literally, we lost the balance of sufficient food/fat intake for growth and activity. Of possible interest she also suffered irritable bowel syndrome, abdominal migraines, head migraines and multiples viruses which have all largely dissappeared since commencement of anorexia treatment. Were they related to malnutrition of some sort.
I guess we will never know what were her 'triggers'. Does it matter?? For me, a bit as I think the perfect storm of the anti-obesity messages, growing children/teenagers, high levels of sporting activity etc need to be managed more appropriately with good healthy eating with lots of fats etc.
Belinda Caldwell FEAST Executive Director. D 21 now well into recovery after developing AN in 2011. Inpatient 5 weeks, FBT and then just lots of time, love and vigilance.
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LauraCollins_US
We know from research pretty clearly now that all eating disorders (AN, BN, BED) are preceded by energy imbalance (too little food for maintenance, growth or activity) and symptoms can not abate without restoring energy balance. What we don't know is whether these patients might have avoided that energy imbalance or they were like the storybook princess who was driven to find the magic spindle no matter what. On that latter issue I am torn. The fact that anorexia nervosa rates haven't changed over time would seem to indicate that the environmental influences that have changed - like less famine, more dieting, more pressure to be thin, more athletics, nighttime lighting, etc., are not important factors. Bulimia, a phenomenon only conceptualized in the 80s, may be increasing but we really don't know - nor with BED.

I think it may be found that the "reasons" for the initial weight loss may turn out to be what reveals a person's vulnerability to the disorders but not causal at all. We may even grow grateful for early discovery of this vulnerability so we can intervene early. Still, I cannot in good conscience ever feel tolerant of any influence that causes weight loss, overexercise, or encouragement of either. Ever.
Laura (Collins) Lyster-Mensh
F.E.A.S.T. Executive Director
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WeNWinning
My D showed vulnerabilities early - around age 8 - with body dissatisfaction.  She was a competitive diver.  She was one who developed early and began menstruating at age 11.  She compared her body unfavorably to her peers who were thin and "popular".  

She was at a school where talk about bodies, fat, and not eating started very young - around age 9-10.  The girls didn't eat lunch.

Because my D had social anxiety she decided to diet so she could be like her peers who were popular and found it easy to socialize.

So, dieting to be like her peers was the original catalyst for her ED especially because it started at a time when her body was preparing for menstruation and she needed to gain weight.


WenWinning (formerly wenlow) - a Mom who has learned patience, determination, empathy, and inner strength to help her young adult daughter gain full remission after over a decade of illness and clinician set inaccurate weights
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Annmarie
I can't help but wonder if this is a "chicken or the egg" scenario.

Did my daughter develop anorexia nervousa because she started to eat healthy and lose weight, or did she eat healthy and lose weight because she had AN.

State or weight?

I couldn't answer the survey because I was looking for a choice that said the eating disorder triggered her weight loss.
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YogurtParfait_US
Yeah, this survey tool is very limited ... and it only allows 8 choices!

I totally see the chicken-and-egg thing. It is so complicated!

YP
"Hope is a wonderful thing ... but hope by itself is not enough. Hope is the reason to take action, to make a plan and then to change the plan when it isn’t working - over and over and over again if necessary." Hannah Joseph (Let's Feast Friday Reflection, "Just Keep Going," Friday, March 3rd, 2015)
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BattyMatty_UK
A number of triggers ranging from bullying at primary school and associating that with being overweight to experiencing the physical transformation that regular exercise can do, and associating this new physique with the need to exercise... then having a 'lightbulb moment' where he discovered he could cook 'healthier versions' of all the foods he liked i.e. remove fats, sugar, etc so it meant he didn't have to exercise as much to keep his new physique... which led to a downward spiral which we're all familiar with...
Bev Mattocks, mother of 24-year old male DX with RAN 2009, now recovered. Joined this forum in 2010 - it was a lifesaver.
 
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