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

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Hi all. This is my first post although I have been lurking here for a while. I could do with some feedback please. Eldest DD (turned 15 in May) diagnosed with RA in April and, long story short, is now ip (and thankfully beginning to engage with programme - she had maintained from onset that she felt only chance of recovery would be with an ip kick start, which, though we know will involve a stay of at least five months, is seeming to do some good). But now youngest DD (12) appears to be mimicking some of her older sister's ED behaviours. For example "I don't need a snack, I ate a big lunch" or "I don't want supper tonight, I'm not hungry". Where I may have let this slide before I now feel I can't as how many times would she miss some food and then slip into the same patterns as her sister if I let her? I don't want her to feel like I am always getting on at her to eat (my own upbringing featured 'Clear your plate or you don't leave the table' but also 'You'll never get a job/boyfriend/nice outfit if you don't slim down'  which was very confusing). But in the same way I need her to understand the importance of regularly spaced meals and snacks and to not have a fear of food. So far she hasn't refused a meal or a snack, although I worry she isn't eating her lunch. She buys it and it shows up on her school account but I worry she might be throwing it away. Am I just being paranoid? Has anyone else experienced this? And does anyone have any suggestions as to how to deal with it? Thank you.

Hello there, Purple_Mama_1,
Welcome to the forum and hope you receive the information and support you need. 
As for your younger d, a few thoughts here:
1: WEIGH HER NOW! And see if she has lost any weight. And how long has this been going on? 
2: You are not nagging her, you are ensuring she has proper nutrition to grow and I would say that when she says she is not hungry for supper. And make sure she eats what you feel she should eat. Please do not let it slide, EDs are heritable and so in one family there is higher risk. So be on top of it, it will not hurt and if there are issues you make sure they don't "stick".
3: As for lunch could you go in and watch her?   When I suspected my d of AN, I had the teacher watch her and she said she was drinking, she just pretended to! I feel that unless YOU see it go in and stay in, you will not really know.
4: We now, with all three of my kids, discuss adequate nutrition (now at 2 years in) and fuelling their bodies for life and activities. Do you feel she has a fear food? and if so, I would challenge that. I thought my older had ED when off to university and when she came home I fed her pizza. (we call that the pizza challenge here as pizza tends to be a common fear) and she ate it so I was much relieved. 

Ed really does knock the wind out of us. I am very suspicious of any "odd" eating behaviours in anyone now and my ED radar is always on full alert.
Your younger one is only 12 but peripuberty can be a very vulnerable time for them when it comes to body image. I recall for my d that there were some girls on diets recently and d was a bit triggered as having to eat more than them. We did discuss that she is different than them and she cannot EVER go on a diet. Do you feel that may be happening at school? Also does your 12 year old d understand her sister's ED and how ill her older sister is? If she has some depth in her understanding that may help the discussion around food, I would hope. 

I am sorry about the food messages you had as a child. Many of us, if not all, can attest to something like that. But you know better. There is no perfect way to look, or be or eat or exercise or even live for that matter. Being healthy, no matter what size is beautiful. PERIOD. I am sure if she hears from you the positive messages, that will keep her thoughts healthy when it comes to food. 

Please ask all the questions you have. We would all love to help you based on the knowledge we have gained from our own experiences.

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 started with all of my kids insisting that they eat regularly on a similar schedule to ED daughter. I think all kids benefit from eating every two to three hours normal food.

Thank you debra18.  I am pretty comfortable with the eating every two to three hours, and indeed have regular conversations saying that due to the amount of energy it takes just for a body and brain to function, she needs to eat whether or not she's hungry.  I've reassured her (using the words our CAMHS team gave us) that I will not make her fat.  [BTW I know that we shouldn't stigmatise the word fat and that we also need to do work around that whole area, but in the context of our older DDs fears it was that what I feed her and the amount I feed her has never, and will never, cause her to be fat.] Actually now that I have started eating every three hours (three meals, three snacks) I have found that I have fewer mood swings - well, apart from when PMT comes to call but that's a different story...😏

scaredmom thank you for your reply also.  Can I respond point by point?

1.  I am frightened to weigh DD.  To me, she looks fine and she wears age and size appropriate clothes (though again I am aware that all that is subjective).  I have deliberately hidden our scales at home as I don't want what any of us weigh to be an indicator of what we are worth (however I guess that didn't do eldest DD much good as she just found other ways of judging her weight/appearance).  I honestly don't know what she weighs, but I do know that she has lost weight around her tummy.  She had a little tummy which has gradually diminished, but she has in the past six months gained about four inches in height - I know this because at Christmas she was two inches shorter than me, and now she's two inches taller!).  I guess I could weigh her now and then use this as a marker. 

  • Would you suggest I blind weigh her?
  • Or should I take her to the GP, explain my concerns, get them to (blind) weigh her and assure her that she is fine?
  • And with what frequency should I continue to weigh her?

I am probably overthinking it, but as I have a history of weight gain and loss and a love/hate relationship with the scales, I am genuinely worried that I will pass this on to her.  😟

2. Thanks for the reassurance that I'm not nagging her.  It's really difficult because she is a naturally feisty girl and, coupled with those hormones there are often fireworks!

3.  I don't know if I could go in to watch her have her lunch at school - it's certainly something I can discuss with them, but I don't know how practical it would be.  I have had big chunks off time off with eldest DD and, as I work in a school myself, then getting out in term time is difficult.  But I will bear it in mind.  It is the summer holidays in three weeks and as we will both be off, soI will be eating most meals and snacks with her anyway.

4.  She doesn't really have a fear food - although I am keeping my eye out for that one as looking back, I can see how eldest DD began to stop having things that previously she had really enjoyed.  Youngest DD had been getting wary around biscuits, but then the other day I bought her favourite ones and we both had one with a cuppa as our post-work/school snack and she didn't bat an eyelid.  So fingers crossed that will not turn into anything, although I remain vigilant.

You're right, an ED does knock the wind out of you.  The way I am feeling now is akin to how I felt 15 years ago when our son (our eldest child) died.  He was three and a half and it felt like the rug had been pulled out from under our feet.  Back then I was on edge for a long time, worrying that eldest DD (our youngest was not yet born) would die too.  It took some time for that to settle down, but I think there is now some kind of catastrophic thinking in my mind around the mortality of my children.  I thought the worst thing that could happen would be to lose a child - and then it happened.  Then I thought, as my girls started to grow up and I was aware of the prevalence of mental health issues in young people, that it must be really hard to support a child with poor MH.  And then eldest DD began to self-harm and my world fell apart again, because although I didn't hit the roof and blame her, it still felt like we had failed her somehow by not noticing.  We were beginning to come through that (which I now see was probably a way of her dealing with the burgeoning ED) when we had the RA diagnosis.  So then I thought "well at least we can help her at home" - and then despite trying really hard to support her, she has ended up as an IP.  And although I know she is in the right place for her right now, it feels like I am grieving all over again.  Except now I am grieving and trying to raise my youngest DD who is beautiful and funny and smart and perfect as she is - and I am terrified that I will lose her to an ED in the same way that I have (hopefully temporarily) lost my oldest DD.  I know I have not always had a good personal relationship with food and weight and body image, but I don't think I have ever been openly judgmental of anyone's size or appearance (because I have been slim and fat myself).  I have always focused on the amazing things our bodies can do, and on the even more fantastic things our brains can do. I have challenged the mixed messages that social media, the fashion and beauty industries, and society in general, give us about our appearance.  And yet I have still failed to prevent one daughter developing an ED and feel like 'what if I fail my younger DD too'?

I am so sorry for the really long post, and I didn't mean for it to turn into this.  And I really don't want to turn it into a pity party. I also don't expect to have loads of replies, but it's how I feel and I am glad that there's a space here to share it with - hopefully - people who might understand what I'm trying to express.

Thank you x

Welcome to the forum. Please know that your love hate relationship with the scales cannot cause an eating disorder. At the same time predisposition to anxiety, family history etc. do load things up with risk. I suspect you cannot truly prevent an ED inyou younger daughter, however knowing she is higher risk, monitoring her growth chart- height and weight and seeing that she is not falling off curvs is going to give you the best chance at early detection, and if early she has the best chance at full and fast recovery. She needs to know as a sister she should not ever diet, that she needs regular fuel for energy, thay
t she needs to critically evaluate those dangerous messages from society promoting only thin is good.
D diagnosed restrictive AN June 2010 age 13. Initially weight restored 2012. Relapse and continuously edging towards recovery. Treatment: multiple hospitalisations and individual and family therapy.
I understand your hesitancy at weighing her and maybe just a check up with the doctor may be helpful? And yes to blind weighing. The emphasis could be put on ensuring she is meeting her growth trajectory??  That may help reassure you a bit.

i understand not going into the school to observe and summer will be very telling. Has she been eating her lunches well on weekends and days off from school? 
I think your plan for summer eating will be informative. And you  are right on top of her so you can correct things as they pop up. 
Please don’t feel guilty about older d’s ED and mental health issues. It was her predisposition and then a magical concoction of environmental factors and the BOOM. She is being taken care of and you have not lost her. This is what she needs at the moment and you were able to provide her that help. I know many feel if they can’t take care of the child at home it is a failure. I was so thankful to have my d admitted one week after diagnosis and they were the specialists and would help get her back on track and help me learn what I needed
to do when she got home. Although it was not perfect I feel for my d the admission was absolutely needed. But I respect others  that did not have a  good experience.  I wrote this there to let you know it is not your fault. Our kids learn to hide things from us and when we do find out it has likely been going on for so much longer than we thought but no matter what stage we find it, the issues were caught and  you have been able to provide  care to her, in or out of your home. It is a reflection of the complexity and seriousness of her illness to need Ip.
she is safe. 

You have ave been through so much and I am sorry it has been so difficult. I do hope you have your own support system and that you take time for self care. The thing is we all know now that the worst can happen to our kids so those feeling will be ever present I think they  lessen over time. I feel for me, anyways, that because of what I have been through with d, I appreciate the plain old ‘boring’ moments more than  others who have not had similar experiences. 
I now have much deeper relationships with a  few people. I spend my spare time doing things that bring me some peace and joy. I can let go of the ‘small stuff’. I am more grateful for things I used to take for granted. I still hate what this illness has done overall, but.. 
Never apologize for a long post. This is a safe and caring place to share and get some hugs. We are all on this together and together we are stronger.
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)
It is a genetic disease and your family would not be the first one that has two patients at the same time. So my warning bells would ring very loud about what you write...

If you think YOU cannot weigh her then get her weighed somewhere else. Make a regular pediatric appointment to check everything and get her weighed there.
It is important. If she really throwns away lunch and if she really lost weight she might be the next IP candidate in your family and now at that early state you might be able to avoid that.

Having two ED kids in one family is not that rare as you might think.

" I don't know if I could go in to watch her have her lunch at school - it's certainly something I can discuss with them, but I don't know how practical it would be."
You will need to do that with your elder d when she comes back from IP when she is allowed to go back to school anyway so maybe it is time to prepare that and find out. It is the same school?
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
Thank you tina72.  We have not had a peep from her over the weekend about food, but I am still going to take her to the GP.  I think it would be good for her to be reassured that she is healthy.  Unfortunately our daughters are at separate schools.  As far as I am aware the arrangement when eldest DD is discharged and returns to school is that her keyworker from the CAMHS team will go in and eat with/supervise her.  My oldest DDs school is ten minutes away from where I work, whereas my youngest's is half an hour.  But I am hoping with youngest that it won't come to that and that intervention now will stop any ED thinking in its tracks - we shall see.