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

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YogurtParfait_US Show full post »
Please don't blame yourself--teaching kids to make health[ier] food choices does not cause AN. But now that we know of our kids' difficulties, we will do differently! (Me, too!)

My daughter also started restricting to "eat healthy" and I thought it was great that she wanted fruit instead of candy! Who knew?


"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)
At the time, my D's ED seemed to almost come from nowhere, but of course in retrospect, it was a more insidious process.  The summer before her 8th birthday she exhibited some early signs of depression/anxiety...wanted to go on long drives to calm her nerves, expressing fear of death, excessive worry about whether she was a good person etc.  No sign that she was having any problems eating yet, but a month before her 9th birthday, she contracted mononucleosis.  She recovered fine, but I noticed that her mood took a significant downturn.  I spoke to a psychiatrist that I knew, and she said we should just keep an eye on her, since her grades were great and she was functioning fairly well.  By January, she was quite depressed, and practically frantic that she had not been treating her two brothers well...not reality based.  Shortly after, she began restricting to the point of just eating apple, water and some small bites of bread.  She may have lost some weight over these months, but I didn't notice, nor did her doctor.  Eating and body image had never been an issue whatsoever.  I really think that her depression/ anxiety and a genetic predisposition on her father's side did her in...the mono surely seemed to be an exacerbant as well.
The "frantic that she had not been treating her brothers well" part sounds a bit like OCD? I wonder if there is something like that?

My daughter also has long-standing anxiety. I think it might have led to depression in a couple of years if ED hadn't happened and we hadn't ended up getting all of these pre-existing conditions treated ...

"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)
Sirius hertz,
Is too! Major growth spurt in height without weight gain. D said she started weighing herself at my dads house at age 10. Fell down the rabbit hole at 15.
Slow and steady
Growth spurt would be great to add to the list--but there are only 8 options allowed, alas ... an imperfect survey instrument ...

"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)
I think my D had a bad breakup with a boy combined with some tummy troubles. I still haven't figured out how truthful the tummy problems are or were. I know for about two weeks last October she was down about 15lbs after complaining that eating made her nauseous and have diarrhea.

She has Celiac Disease so is already gluten restricted. Her GI gave us an elimination diet to try and then it all just snowballed. She had me hook, line, and sinker.

We are actually still are trying to resolve if there is a real GI issue going on in addition to the ED and have a follow up with her GI this week. I am sending him a preemptive email (he is already semi-looped in on the ED stuff) that we should come back in 6 months for a recheck because otherwise she has no 'medical' issue from a GI perspective.
That was us too. She started growing and didn't put in weight for height and fell like an anvil off the growth curve. Once refeeding started she grew over 4 inches at age 15-16 post period.
Slow and steady
mixture of all the reasons you are listing.
My then 17 y.o. daughter started to diet and exercise around Thanksgiving of senior year in anticipation of going to college (gaining the "freshman 15"), and of going on the pill (possible weight gain). 
Papyrus, Philadelphia area
Wow wot a question! I would say underlying anxiety & depression compounded with training to get into the police force-she got hooked on those feel good endorphins then had a lot of input from unknowing personnal trainer about carbs & proteins.
Kim Leishman
OCD like obsessional drive coupled with high level competitive sports triggered health conscious ritualistic food rules and spiraled to energy expendure deficit but honestly while this culminate at around 18 or 19 all the ducks we in a row. Underlying anxiety traits with small OCD like responses ( not what I would have recognized as classic OCD ) perfectionistic and maybe executive function deficits I didn't recognize early that fed her sense of low self esteem and anxiety. So easy to look back but at least it gives insight to move forward. The hardest part I think is that learned coping behaviors even if maladaptive are very difficult to change. Not impossible but there ate few really good intensive behavioral programs that really address this from that point if view. The psychological trauma do to speak is hard for professionals and families to separate. There is much to learn about the illness and individual treatment plans
A great deal of research is being done about these Ed individuals and their response to stressors that everyone might experience but they are extremely sensitive to and their responses seem more like someone who has experienced a much higher level of trauma.
Isn't the brain so complex?
"Sometimes you just have to be your own hero"
My D's starting point was a New Year resolution, aged 13. Might be worth thinking about our kids and resolutions
My daughter claims it was a "stretch mark" on her stomach that turned out to be just a crease from leaning over on her computer/phone too much. Much like the creases in our palms. But down she went. Depression/BP also surfaced at that time when she hit puberty as it often does in those with a genetic propensity to mental illness which she has due to her missing genes from VCFS/22q11.2ds.
I answered "Other". I think it was puberty growth spurt, and his life-long picky eating (sensory issues due to autism) was no longer able to keep up with his growth. Now that I'm learning more about ED I can see risk factors such as perfectionistic temperament, possible ED in family members (a few relatives that I suspect may have ED, although this is not confirmed), depression (though maybe that is due to the ED?), unhappiness about being "big and ugly" instead of a "cute little kid".
Lauren Mulheim has linked to this poll on her blog about unintentional onset ED.

I thought more recent feasties may like to contribute [smile]
Son 9yrs when he became unwell 2013, ED slide from April 2014, dx at 10yrs July 2014, 2 hospitalisations - dx so many times Behavioural Anorexia, EDNOS, ARFID. FBT from August 2014. Anxiety, Emetophobia. 13.5yrs old now! In recovery, gets better every day with constant vigilance, life returns.
An in earnest started when my d (already an NZ size 8), decided she needed to go on a diet unbeknowest to me.2013 she had 7 injuries to arms or legs all requiring plaster casts.did this contribute as she lost control of her body with it breaking all the time.who knows?she was always a picky eater.genetically I think her perfectionism and a possible genetic tendency may also have contributed.i look back now and wonder why the doc wasn't more concerned when she was 11 and weighed 25 kg.just told me she could stand to eat a bit more.a hundred reasons I can look back and kick myself but what good will it do.
Puddleduck, I dug up that blog post. Very interesting:


Wonderful that professionals out there are PAYING ATTENTION to our group. Muhlheim not only cites the quantitative data from the poll the date she accessed it, but she also provides direct quotations from three of our parents!

I hope those who have not yet participated will also complete this poll! [smile] I'm so proud of our group!
"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)
I agree it was a primordial soup for my daughter.  Between the age of 5 and 6, my daughter lost both her grandparents on her father's side (her grandpa on her 6th birthday but we never told her that).  She then lost my mother to cancer and saw her waste away to nothing.  She identified so much with my Mom as she looked like her, has her twisted sense of humor, is a twin like my Mom.....needless to say they were close.  She became depressed and we took her to a grief counselor because she stopped eating.  She started 'counting calories' and doing jumping jacks after dinner.  She was starving and lost 10% of her body weight in a couple weeks.  (I knew NOTHING about the possibility of a kindergartener having an eating disorder. Hell, I don't know how she knew what a calorie was).   Her grief counselor was wonderful and soon she was back to normal weight and eating.......or so we thought.  The therapist said she was concerned and said we should "watch" her as she shows 'signs of an eating disorder'.  Admittedly, I stored the information but thought she was off base - clearly she was just grieved over the loss of my Mom (naïve, head in the sand)  She played competitive soccer, was in the gifted program at school, is an incredible artist and has/had many friends.  She seemed great - although I often spoke to her about being too hard on herself (school and soccer - behaviors I see in myself).

18 months later, her father, my husband, had a massive heart attack.  He lived - but had to undergo quadruple bypass surgery.  He was 46 at the time.  When he came home from the hospital, there was much talk about 'healthy eating' - cutting salt and fat and junk food - we read all the heart healthy cookbooks.....  And my daughter, now 7 adopted the information with vengeance.  She cut out all 'junk' food from her diet.  No birthday cake, no cookies, no chips, no (insert anything fun).  That led to further cutting things (she gave up Nutella - her absolute favorite, gator-aid even at soccer which she still played..).  By 8 she gave up meat.  She was still gaining weight but my guess is it was at a much slower clip.  People were complimenting her on her "will power" and her healthy eating choices...... All the while, the words of the therapist were in my head.  "Watch her, she's showing signs of an eating disorder."   I started expressing my concerns to her pediatrician. By 9 she stopped gaining weight and she just sort of 'stopped' growing.  Her pediatrician figured she would just hit a growth spurt and catch up - Never happened.  By 10.5 she weighed the same as she did at 9.  She started having panic attacks.  She began complaining about school.  She hated everybody and everything, including soccer and art.  Then the weight started to drop AND FAST......  We ended up in the ER of the local children's hospital with a diagnosis of AN - She had just turned 11.

So to answer the question - was there a trigger?  I don't know. 
My D started showing signs of anxiety and suicidal ideation at around age 8.  By age 13 she was engaging in self harm.  By 14 or 15, with intervention,  she seemed to have developed coping strategies that lessened the self harm but we saw an increase in perfectionist type behaviours at school and dance.  By the time she turned 16, she started self harming again and restricting intake.

Not sure of the causal factors but it seems to me that the ED was a coping strategy for underlying anxiety and depression.  Restricting, in the initial stages of weight loss, was a more socially positive way of coping, feeling better and gaining control than cutting, lashing out or substance abuse. 

Potential contributors are a strong genetic history of anxiety/depression and EDs, perhaps low birth weight and social issues that made coping with anxious feelings even harder - bullying, complex family structure, questioning sexual orientation, competitive dance (and the body consciousness/"healthy" living talk that goes along with that), parents dieting...who knows what else.    The perfect storm between biology and circumstance.
I think underlying anxiety triggered by leaving primary school, and the sats testing. However there also seems to be some social anxiety mixed in there - perceiving (through the lens of a mental illness) that bigger children were less popular and plenty of demonising of 'fat' from the healthy eating messages at school.
In addition talented sportsman placing emphasis on having (and keeping) a 6 pack at age 12 - newsflash this will only be achieved by over training and under eating.
Also a tendency to overfill his plate and agree to be involved in every school play, school sport, always do the speaking parts, because 'we can rely on him, he always learns his lines'. Unknowingly we adults were putting too much pressure on him.

A perfect storm whipped up by over achiever perfectionist personality, move to secondary school and the greater freedom around lunchtimes given there, worry about fitting in, anxiety over ability sets, pressure to get in, and keep place in A teams for sports, lead to weight loss and down the rabbit hole he went.
13 yr old son diagnosed April 2015 with Anorexia.
Hi Sotired,

I just wanted to acknowledge you, your circumstances sound really tough...  

I while ago my husband and I read articles indicating a connection between autism/ ASD and anorexia.

I noticed the high percentage of people on this forum who are mentioning anxiety and depression. It would be interesting to include that in the 'poll'.

And bullying...

perfectionism of course...

But I think it is the initial vomiting (as a reaction to the bullying, trying to loose weight) that was most damaging and in hindsight caused the depression.

Too easily doctors say 'oh it is teenage depression'. I think this is a mistake, because how on earth can you suddenly have a depressed child who was a really happy, confident, 'keen' child, up to less than a year before that 'diagnosis'. Too often doctors think the depression is hormonal or something or like a personality thing, without actually looking at what that child was like before! My point is the depression is caused by something (not eating/vomiting/ being bullied...).

Hmm... same with anxiety come to think of it.

Yes I definitely believe there is a genetic component with a link to autistic spectrum, triggered by sudden weight loss triggered by the vomiting (wanting to loose weight because of being bullied). The chubbiness was caused by steroid medication to prevent asthma.  
It was just before high school and she was scared that she wouldn't be accepted.

So that is were the perfectionism and determination comes in (my child is determination+)

But I also believe that what happens than is that the gut bacteria become depleted.



Linda2 wrote:
....But I also believe that what happens than is that the gut bacteria become depleted.

Interesting. I wonder when someone will study this
as something that might be helpful in the arsenal of fighting ED. (And autism, and ...)

"We are angels of hope, of healing, and of light. Darkness flees from us." -YP