National Eating Disorders Association

14 posts / 0 new
Last post
Anoerxia the demon

just wondered what kind of experiences parents have had with their children through recovery of Ana?
my daughter up til this point has been able to deal with making food choices when necessary. now though, i can see the battle within her. like if she makes a food choice she's "betraying" Ana. crying, tantrums, proper distress.... it sounds crazy but sometimes i just want to say to her "dont worry, im not going to make you eat now". obviously, if i want her to continue on the path to recovery, thats not an option. but i guess it comes from that place as a parent when you see/hear your child in pain/suffering, you just want to take it all away from them.
it physically breaks my heart to see her struggle with it. i now limit the opportunities for her to make choices. that seems to ease it somewhat. but i wonder if thats even the right thing to do.
has anyone else seen the same behavious from their child, and how did you get around it? will this part ever pass?
my daughter has described Anorexia as her friend, something that makes her comfortable. she feels safe with it.
i wish she would come back to me.


Hi lostamanda,
I'm so sorry you are going through this! I'm not sure what the proper approach is, but making some food decisions for her sounds like it might help both because it is necessary for your daughter's health and because it may ease some of the decision-making for her. I do think it will get easier as she recovers and lets go of the anorexia as a source of comfort. I wish I could be more helpful!


Thanks Mel, I do hope things

Thanks Mel, I do hope things get easier. Oct 2015 - now... no significant changes. I wish she saw the anorexia as the monster I do.
Thank you for your words, and taking the time xx

Anorexia the demon - Reply

Hi lostamanda!

I am so sorry to hear what you are going through with your daughter’s eating disorder right now. Eating disorders are so complex and difficult to deal with for both the sufferer and family and friends, as well. I know from my own personal experience with an eating disorder, my mother went through a lot with me. I went through very similar experiences with my eating disorder where I would cry, throw tantrums, felt like I was betraying my eating disorder, and finding comfort in my eating disorder behaviors. I know I felt like I was stuck in my own head and did not realize how my eating disorder behaviors were affecting other people around me. It can be very devastating to watch a loved one go through this and not know how to help. I know looking back on those experiences now, I believe it would have benefitted my mother to find treatment for herself; as it became very hard on her to manage her own emotions about me. It’s very important to take care of yourself, as difficult as that can be at times. However, you have come to the right place and the NEDA website has a lot of great resources for yourself and your daughter, as well. NEDA has an Information and Referral Helpline phone number you can call, where you can chat with someone privately and to help assess options for yourself and your daughter. The phone number is (800) 931-2237. I hope that helps and please let us all know how you and your daughter are doing.



Thanks Erin, it's really nice to read from someone who has experienced the ED first hand. As the outsider, it's so difficult to understand/help.
I think your advice about seeking help for myself is a great idea. I can appreciate your mothers struggle with her own emotions through the illness. There's so much going on for a support person....I do hope your mother managed and your relationship is ok now post ED. I do worry my daughter and I will have little/no relationship later, but hope it will make us stronger.
Can you tell me more about this "being stuck" in your own head? I want so much to understand the struggles.
Thank you for your words and your advice.

We just went through this

We just went through this with our 12 year old son. We didn't even realize he had anorexia. We knew something wasn't right, but didn't know what it was. Finally went to the Dr. and he figured out really quickly what it was. Before you knew it, our son was in the hospital. Fortunately, we live relatively close to a hospital with a program designed for kids with eating disorders. I think that professional treatment is important for a couple reasons. 1) The child needs counseling. 2) They equip the parents and siblings with the tools they need to be successful in the recovery process.

What you are describing sounds exactly what we went through. I remember times when our son ran away from the table and would hide somewhere. I'd have to physically carry him like a baby back to the table and sit there with him until he finished his food while he screamed at us, telling us how much he hates us and that he wished we'd leave him alone so he could die. Those words are terrible to hear, but just keep in mind that it isn't your kid saying those words, it's the eating disorder monster.

The way this was described to us in the hospital is that when a person is at a unhealthy low weight for an extended period of time, the eating disorder takes over their thought process and clouds their judgement. In order to bring them out of it, you have to get them up to a healthy weight for a period of time. Once that happens, the eating disorder cloud clears and your true kid will come back to you. We experienced this first hand in the past few weeks, and it is an amazing feeling when you get your kid back! It's almost magical.

I would encourage you to get treatment. There was no way we could have done this alone. We just didn't know how to do this. I'm not an expert, but I think at the stage your daughter is in (sounds like it's where our son was at), she should not make any food choices, you should do all of it. She needs a LOT of food to come out of it, and she will not make the right choices for proper weight gain. You have to figure out what they will and won't eat. Our son got burned out on certain foods in the hospital, so he wouldn't eat it when we got home. You need to figure out which battles you can win, and which ones you can't. There are some rules. 1) the kid cannot be present during food prep(for obvious reasons) 2) Not eating is not an option. If they don't finish their food, they get a meal replacement drink. 3) You pick out all food and portions. They will try to bargain at every opportunity (can I have juice instead of milk, etc. ) do not fall into this trap. It's a downward spiral if you do.

Find things they like and you know they will eat, but add calories to it. I used a lot of deception like this. It doesn't feel good at the time, but it may be required.

Also have a distraction strategy in place that you've set up ahead of time with your daughter. So when the monster comes out, you have a plan on what to do. For example, my son had a few funny youtube videos that he really liked. When the monster came out, we'd watch those videos, and that would settle him down.

We have been very fortunate in the recovery process. It took a lot of work, but our son came out of the disorder. Now, instead of the "I hate you", we get a lot of hugs, and "I love you". He often apologizes for the way he acted when he was in the depths of the eating disorder. He is happy all the time, and is bouncing off the walls because he has so much energy. He often times makes statements on how great he feels and that he never wants to go back to feeling the way he did.

This is a brutal battle (as are most mental health disorders). But it can be won. Just remember that food is their medicine, and getting your daughter up to a healthy weight for an extended period of time is what it is going to take to "get her back". Sorry for all the rambling, but I hope something is useful. I wish your family all the best.

Oh, I would also recommend reading books about other people’s personal experiences with helping their children through EDs. They have lots of tools in them.

Being on the opposite side of

Being on the opposite side of this scenario (I was 15 when I developed anorexia and had to go through treatment), I don't think lying is the best way to go with this. Even when I was in partial hospitalization treatment, they were always very open with exactly what I was putting in my food, and very often let us patients help in food prep. This made me a lot more comfortable getting to prepare my own food, even though the ingredients were not something I was always comfortable with.

Adding high calorie ingredients to your child's food secretly can be a benefit in some cases, but it really breaks trust, especially if you get caught. I caught my mother quite a few times tampering with my prepared meals (all followed doctor-ordered guidelines). This really broke the trust between us and set my recovery back quite a bit. When you sneak ingredients into your child's food, you give the indication that those ingredients are "bad", and the child cannot know about them. This could make your child even more scared of these foods.

Sorry if this seems argumentative, but I just wanted to offer a different perspective on your method. Deceit is not the way to go with this. You should be honest with your child and let them know exactly what is going in their food. Sure they will be upset and try to bargain and not eat it, but in the end they will eat it and realize that those foods and ingredients aren't "bad". Where if you deceive them, they will never get used to these foods.

You have very valid points

You have very valid points and I don't feel you are being argumentative. Let me clarify a couple things. I didn't out and out lie about food prep(well maybe a couple times). The doctors in the hospital were very clear about not lying. But you don't want to tell them every detail, especially in the early stages of recovery. If he'd ask me what's all in something, I'd just say, it has what you need. This is why it's important (at least in the treatment program we used) in the early stages that the kid not do any food prep, and not be in the area when food is being prepped. They are always obsessing over every little detail about food in the early stages, so the less they know the better. And any little thing can set them off, so eliminating as many triggers as possible is key.

Once the fog of the eating disorder lifts, the obsessing is reduced significantly. It is almost completely gone in our son. He actually ate some treats on his own recently. He also asked if we could drive through and get some dessert the other day. (of course we did this!). Again, the key is to get the person up to a healthy weight as quickly as possible so that cloud lifts. Once that is gone, normal thought processes return.

You sound like you are doing

You sound like you are doing an amazing job. You are lucky you managed to catch this so early, they have a much better chance of achieving full recovery when you stop it while they're young. Sounds like he is making a great recovery and it will only get better from here!


Hi gdawgs,
Thank you for posting! We had to edit a tiny portion of your post to adhere with community guidelines ( Please continue posting though! :)

Hi gdawgs,

Hi gdawgs,

Thank you for your words of wisdom in this situation, we just want you to know that a portion of your post was deleted to fit with the guidelines of the forums. We encourage you to carry on posting!

No Problem. I did read the

No Problem. I did read the guidelines, but wasn't 100% sure what is allowed and what isn't.

my heart is breaking for you....

My daughter's best friend is this disease as well. One night I realized that ED is an abusive spouse. She is now 26 and will do anything to please him, including dropping to an extremely low weight. Despite multiple brushes with death, she still refuses to give up her loyalty to him. I no longer wield any weight with her even though I know she loves me dearly.

She is walking a narrow path now, and he is leading her there. She is smart! Yet she cannot see beyond his will. This is a powerful disease.

I don't have any advice for you but to take advantage of the opportunities given to you when your daughter will listen to you. Acknowledge her feelings of "friendship" but also point out the betrayals in a gentle and kind manner (even if you want to scream and shout at the idiocy of it all!) As long as she sees you as an ally, you are still in the fight.



Hi akvalkyrie,
A portion of your post was edited due to the mention of specific numbers that may be triggering to other forum members. Our community guidelines are always available to review here: Please continue posting :)