National Eating Disorders Association

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Getting better, but confused

So, my daughters anorexia caught early. She started starving herself in may and we figured it out by august. She had lost too much weight and was not getting her period.... We started with a regular doctor, then a doc specializing in ed, then a therapist. We are refeeding at home.

My town is small, the professionals are not really as knowledgeable as i imagined. They are telling me she is recovered because she is at a healthy weight and got her period back. But, she is still obsessional, still needs me there at everymeal, still mean to herself over her nonexistant large belly, still not totally herself yet. The ed tormented her at first, and things have calmed down considerably, but she still melts down a lot. We did not go the route of meds. Her depression is lifting.

But, i do not want to let up on calories because i have read that if you overshoot a little, the rate of relapse drops consideably. She is just past the low end of good bmi. I want her solidly in the middle of that range and less obsessed with her belly before i even consider dropping the calories or dropping the feeding protocol. And my doctor is just happy she has crossed the bmi number, but i still see a very ill kid here.

With relapse being so high for this disorder, i would think there would be more effort to overshoot to avoid it.

Anyone have any thoughts or experience here?

Hi Soulmeat,

Hi Soulmeat,

Thanks for posting here! We edited your post just a bit - we can't support any particular method or approach on these forums. Community Guidelines for the forums can be found here:

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Recovery can certainly be a

Recovery can certainly be a long journey with many ups and downs, and you're right - there's more to recovery than BMI. I'm sorry that you haven't been getting the support you need. I'm not a professional, so I really can't answer your questions, although they are very good ones.

It sounds like your resources are pretty limited, but one option might be to call the NEDA helpline at 1-800-931-2237- they will help you in efforts to find more local resources. Also, there is the NEDA Navigators program, which has trained volunteers with firsthand experience with EDs and recovery, whether it be their own experience or their love one's. More info here:

Finally, there is the NEDA parent toolkit, which might have some additional information about the recovery process:

Best wishes of recovery and peace to you and your daughter both!

I hope this is an appropriate

I hope this is an appropriate reply to your question, but I can assure you that the more you have to deal with helping your daughter, the more you will learn about this terrible disorder. As a parent who has had to go with the "on our own" method after we were discharged from a partial program I can relate on how hard this is on everyone in the family. I applaud you on being able to coach your daughter into recovery and weight restoration. One of the most difficult things that I have learned is that when a person is < 90% of their normal body weight, that the cognitive thinking process and brain function start to suffer dramatically. This is one thing that makes recovery so difficult as you have to get above that threshold just to start to reach the person suffering with the disorder. I can say from all of the input we have had from our dietitians and our Dr.'s is that the person who has suffered malnutrition will have a very high metabolism for some length of time after reaching a more normal weight. One of the biggest helpful ideas we received from our dietitian was the "Set point" idea with a person's genetic body build. The idea is that each person has a set point that their body tries to maintain. When you reach that set point, things will start to return to normal. She indicated that just the return of menstrual cycle is a significant indication that you are starting to at least approach the set point. I would highly suggest that you find a good dietitian to discuss your daughters nutritional needs, and look up things like studies on the body's attempt to return to it's own "normal" weight.

As for being in a small town, I can assure you that you need to be the expert on this process, as you are correct that there is a vast lack of knowledge on this subject and you have to be the standard bearer for the entire process. I live in a major metro area, and we have a virtual desert of competent help available. Geography is not the deciding factor, you have to find what you think will work. I have also come to the conclusion that you can never trust one provider/clinic/hospital to ever get the story straight when talking from one to the other.( "Nobody talks to anyone, anytime, and when they do, nobody listens!" ) We have suffered through this for almost a year now, and I sure wish I had known what I do now back then. We are now in our 4th hospitalization for re-feeding and dangerously low heart rate.

Thanks Steve C

Hi Steve C - It helps me to know that others are out there with the same issues - I'm sorry, though, to hear about your daughter still struggling. I am finding it hard to imagine my future or her future at this moment. Things seem a bit bleak.

Trying to stay positive for my other two children. She is working 20 hours a week in a restaurant and she is going to public school. She doesn't need the money and doesn't even spend any money. we want her to quit her job to make things easier for herself - but she says it is the only time she is happy. She wants to quit school.... but, I can't imagine saying "go ahead and quit school but keep working.."

My problem now is that she refuses to shower or comb her hair. She is like totally low in self-care and it is weird because she was not ever a fussy girl that stood in front of the mirror -but, she had self-respect before in terms of basic hygiene. Do we push that as a health issue or just let it go??? it is hard to watch her deteriorate like this.

She is eating - but I'm beginning to think she may be purging. No proof - but last night, she ate dinner and then ran outside in barefeet - it was cold. Not sure where she went - I didn't immediately realize it was she that left so I lost her on our dark street. She came back like 10 minutes later. I feel like she purged her meal and I asked her and she just got angry and went to her room. She has not thrown up as far as I know - but is this a new stage??????????

UGH. this disease really sucks.

I was a sufferer of anorexia

I was a sufferer of anorexia last year, and I went through the the exact situtation as your daughter. Yes, it doesn't mean your daughter has fully recovered from anorexia although she has got her menstruation back and passed the average bmi. I opine that anorexia should not be judged by physical appearance but should be gauged by her behaviors towards food. When I was clinically anorexic, my parents tried to refeed me by stuffing food in my mouth, bringing me out to restaurants to eat all those oily food, stopping me from working out, and even reminding me on how small and thin I looked. Actually, this doesn't even rectify the situation. Contrarily, what they did to me had hurt me so much, that even after I recover, those fears I developed on how people judge the food I eat still remains in my mind vividly. First, what develops my disorder is poor family relationships, got bullied in high school, exam pressures and also my family's eating habits. I will focus on my family eating habits. My family used to eat all day long ,and so do I . When I grew bigger, I realized that I should not follow their eating habits because the amount was too much for me to maintain my weight. It all started here, where I slowly cut my food intake, and observed a big change on my appearance. I looked better than what I used to, I was happy. That's when I hit my lowest weight, clinically anorexic. During my final examinations, I was extremely stressed out by food and also study. My parents even gave me external pressure by forcing me to eat, but certainly I refused by giving ludicrous excuses. My exam results has got worse and worse, in which I used to be a top student before being an anorexic. To please my parents, I started eating a little refined food, so that I do not have to gain external stress from my parents during my examination. Once I ate refined sugary food, I crave it more. The urge was intense. I didn't know whether it was because I deprived my body from the nutrients for too long, or it's because I'm too stressed out, as sugary food excites our brain. That was when I first took a normal amount of meal during that torture period, but I called it as a binge because that amount of food was a lot for an anorexic. My parents were very pleased and thought that I'd recovered. I was also surprised for being able to eat this amount of food, as I was always wishing to recover from my disorder, but lack of courage. What we didn't know is, it is a new phase of ED. I binged every now and then each time I feel depressed, or face stress. I binge because I feel safe when eating, as a result of the dark shadows ED had left in my heart. I would never forget how pleased my parents were when I eat a large amount of food, and I can escape from criticism of my friends and family on the small amount of food I was eating. Also, as a consequent of my parent's constant criticism on what I eat in the past, I too binge now when someone gave comments on what I eat, although I was eating reasonable amount of food. Isn't it more terrible than anorexia? Now, my house is free of processed food because binging had become my habit. I would eat everything in sight once I am stressed out. However, I don't think I would still be in a healthy bmi after a couple of months if my binging continues. The scars ED and my parents gave me was too deep.

Sorry for writing so much. I just wished to share these experience with parents who have an anorexic child. I opine that you should show love, appreciation and give support to your daughter, showing her healthy eating habits (not stuffing her with unhealthy food so that she gains weight), let her carry out activities she wished to do (moderate exercise is okay, but not purging). The utmost important thing, do not force her out of love. An anorexic wouldn't feel loved if she is forced badly to eat. Give her some time to realize what she did is wrong. Try to explain to her your concerns about her health, bear your frustration, not to argue with her. After she's eaten her food, try to convince her to sit down and have a soft talk with each other, on her favorite movies, daily activities,etc. It all depends on what she likes to talk about. Low self care is an indication of depression. Maybe she has a problem with her classmates in school, so she decided to quit school. Be aware too when she has depression because her depression may be caused by your pressure in addition with food. If possible, bring her to the psychiatrist if she is willing to go. Give concerns to her life, not only to her eating behaviors. If she's eating a normal/slightly less amount of food, just let it be. What if she's not gaining weight by eating that amount of food? It's also okay as long as she has her menstruation, and do not have a significant loss in weight. Sometimes it is difficult for teenagers to gain weight due to their high metabolism. Menstruation is important because absence of menstruation more than three months indicates malnutrition. In general, every girl wish to have shapely limbs. Believe me, no one would ever wish to have anorexia. According to my experience, the main factor of anorexia is not about losing weight. It's all about the control we did not wish to lose, because we knew that we couldn't control anything except for the food we eat. Remember, do not force an anorexic to eat. The consequences are more horrible than what u think. If u think my comment is useful, please spread out, because I do not wish to see the second me.