National Eating Disorders Association

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Protocol for food in the house

My 25 year old daughter is waiting for inpatient treatment space for bulimia. The quantity (and $) of food disappearing, and the hiding of food, and the nights spent in the kitchen after we're asleep is astonishing and frightening. The minute she gets money she's out buying bags of food and hiding it in her room. Her shame is great and so is her anger. I have trigger and expensive food hidden and locked up privately, but don't know what to do about the kitchen. Do I literally lock it up at after dinner? Are there guidelines? We are working with a therapist who is sensational and we are greatly looking forward to her hospitalization. The therapist has asked me to look into parent support groups and forums to seek some assistance in the meantime. This is beyond a sensitive issue, the locking of the kitchen could bring about nuclear war. Is there a protocol? What works best?



I'm sorry to hear about your daughter's struggle :( but I am happy to hear that her therapist is great and that she will go inpatient soon - the road to recovery is hard, but at least your daughter is brave enough to tackle it!! Regarding your kitchen/her food hiding, I wish I had a perfect solution to give you. What I can recommend is that you try and have an open, mature conversation about it (I realize that eating disorders make people irrational sometimes, but you can try). I think that surprising her and one day with a locked kitchen could seem belittling to your daughter, who is a grown woman despite her disorder. If you decide to do something, explain it to her beforehand and see what kind of input she has. Also, a lot of inpatient facilities follow protocol where the food is locked away and rooms are searched without warning. Maybe she will be more receptive if you explain that you want to implement a few of these measures at home in order to better prepare her for her inpatient stay. Exactly what measures you would want to implement, and how/when to go about that, is something you should discuss with your family and your therapist.

I hope this was helpful. Please stay strong while supporting your daughter through this difficult time. I am glad that you are following the therapist's advice to seek help for yourself. You deserve to be happy and healthy (mentally, emotionally, physically) just as much as your daughter does, and you will be a stronger support system for her if you are!


Is ur daughter bulimic or

Is ur daughter bulimic or binge eating? Does she have a history of anorexia? I am actually anorexic last year but it turns out to binge eating disorder this year. If she has a history of anorexia, in my opinion if she is still underweight, she will feel the urge to binge during recovery because once the body got what it needs, it will crave for more and more to replenish the essential nutrients. But if she is at a normal body weight, then I think her binge would not be the case. it may either be she is suffering from depression or she is very obsessed of her body weight. It seems ridiculous for a binge/bulimic person to be obsessed of her weight right? But actually it turns out as the main factor of binging or bulimia. From what I had experienced, I binge when I was worried about something to get comfort, and to forget all the predicaments I was put up with. Not only that, sometimes when I don't follow my meal plan or slightly overeat something, I would feel like a failure and fat although it is not real. I am aware that these were just illusions. However, I still can't overcome this feelings of guilt, so I binge, in order to punish myself, and to convince myself that "you don't eat this much normally. You ate so much today just because you are in a binge." By thinking about this, I will feel safer as overeating is not my habit, it just occurs when my binge happens, thus I will not gain weight easily by overeating constantly. Also, food restriction after a binge will also contribute to the next binge. It is just a cycle of binging, regret, restricting, and all over again. As a child, I would wish my mum to give me love, and especially attention. But please remember, the attention is not given towards the food I eat, but my daily activities, etc. I used to be resistant when my family comments on the food I eat. I am willing and desperate to overcome my problem by cooperating with my family. I went to the psychiatrist and psychologist with my family, though they do not seem to help. My family also helps me a lot and cooperates by not storing processed food/ triggering food in the house. Unprocessed food which you need to cook can be stored in a hideous corner of the kitchen because the possibility that she will binge on it is low. It all depends on what type of food is your daughter's triggering food. Figure it out, and try out my ways. It's all that u can do as a parent to help your child. Lastly, if your child is purging after binging, please give her a stop because purging does a lot of harm towards the body. Do not give up on your child. When she needs to talk, listen to her!

Retrain yourself and your child

For any child who the parent believes to have any sort of bad relationship with food, the natural response seems to be to restrict any and all food. But that is just a completely terrible idea. The correct way to behave is to show as much respect toward your child as you would show to a coworker, colleague, patient, client, boss, neighbor, friend, a random person you meet at a coffee shop— or whoever you would generally respect as an individual. You need to start treating your daughter as a roommate: someone who you do not know very well and are always trying to find a way to coexist without much conflict. In this mindset, you need to allow her to start buying all of her own food without giving her any word of advice or criticism or threats about the food. Siimply give her a fair amount of space (enough space for one to two months of food) to put her food in the kitchen, and on occasions that you want to try her food or she wants to try your food, ask for permission (or work out a deal). Also, if she asks you to make her food or buy food while you're out, you need to not complain or say something unintentionally derogatory like, "I'll buy you oranges, not Oreos." Learn to make a reasonable trade like you would with any other adult. The only thing a person with an eating disorder DOES NOT need is someone trying to control what they eat (or even talking about food) as if the food that the person with the eating disorder is eating was poison.
There are a few medical issues that can be the cause of eating disorders in some individuals, it is not always stemming from a mental disorder. But, parents of people with eating disorders really just need to be respectful and kind toward their sons and daughters, and they should not talk about food/eating in a derogatory manner more than once a month (unless the child asks for criticism). It is also always a good idea to go to a hematologist to make sure the proper amount of micronutrients, macronutrients and electrolytes are being absorbed into your body.

Food in Kitchen

Have you asked your daughter what she thinks will help her?
Also, remember that the behaviors she is engaging in are coping mechanisms for something else. She does not WANT to do them. That is why she is embarrassed. She hates it and hates herself for it.
Good luck!