National Eating Disorders Association

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Struggling giving food choices back to daughter

My daughter hit rock bottom last June the week between my mom passing away and her funeral. We put her in a PHP program the next week. She did that for most of the summer and has stepped down to IOP about a month ago. WHen she started I was told to take full control of her food and I have and she has for the most part been compliant. She's gained weight and is healthie. She wanted help and has worked hard all summer. As we move through the IOP and giving her some more independence I am having a hard time letting go of that control. And combined with back to school and all those stressers....It's hard because I can send all the food in the world but cant garuntee its being consumed. Shes 17 and a senior in HS. I want her to be "normal" her term but honestly she's not. At least not yet. Anyone gone through this?


Hi nancy.dipietro,
Welcome to the forum. I know how you feel, I have struggled with the same thing. I have a 16 year old daughter who was put into a center as a residential patent for 2 months. When she came home she did IOP for 3 months and then she went back to school. I really worried about her eating at school, because that is actually where her ED started. She had not eaten at school for almost 3 years. The school was so awesome. They let my daughter go in with friends and eat with a woman who worked at the school. She even ate a snack with this woman each day. There were days my daughter hid food and was caught. It was stressful, until I realized that I could support her and put in some boundaries, but I was not responsible for her decisions. If she was caught hiding food, or her weight dropped, there were privileges that were lost. If she lost weight, we increased the food she had to eat at home until she gained back the weight. If it was hiding food or restricting, she did not get privileges/
I can say that when my daughter realized that there were set consequences and. that I did not get all worried and upset when she hid food, ect. Things got better. When I showed her trust, it helped her want to do better. When that trust was lost because of a choice she made it hit her hard. She worked to get that trust back. She has been home for 15 months. She has had a lot of struggles, even just 10 weeks ago, yet she is making huge strides.
Also I learned to use my daughters team, to help me make decisions. She has a dietician and a therapist that works with eating disorders, she also has a great family doctor. They have helped me see when she is ready to have more freedom is eating and even if I have felt some hesitation I decide to listen to them, and it has worked out. They have also helped guide me in what consequences should happen because of my daughter's choices. My stress level went down a lot when I realized that I had this great team of specialists and I needed to use their knowledge and experience. I was not doing this alone.
I hope that you can find peace. To be able to let go if you need to. To be able to take care of yourself. I ended up seeing a therapist for myself and it was life changing. It is a lot of stress to have a child who I struggling with ED. Please take care of yourself. You sound like an amazing mom. When you can find moments of joy in your life and take care of yourself you will be able to take better care of your daughter.

Food Choices

Understand your concern, and honestly don't know what is appropriate. Perhaps you can give her a selection to choose from and monitor to see if she chooses well? Maybe one little step at a time?