Anorexia Bulimia Care
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Feeling so helpless

My husband and I are really struggling to know the best way to help our daughter who is nearly 18. She is under CAMHS and an Eating Disorder Specialist, and has been told to have 3 high carb meals and 3 snacks - she is REALLY struggling with this. She soo wants to eat but her head won't allow her and she has such awful battles with herself. We just don't know what we can do to help. I am with her almost 24/7 - lots of hugs/cuddles and tears etc, but it just doesn't seem to be enough. The help we get is for her but no-one advises us what to do - except be there for her - that goes with question! Anyone got any practical advice please ?

3 Replies

Hi Barley3 :) - in my opinion eating disorders are about extreme control, also an element of escapism. All advice you have received so far is well meant (pls re read your posts I just did, there is some really practical advice in there :) ) Personally I'm yet to see anyone eat the "recommended" amount of food, but it is the Professionals best opinion (just remember they get out of bed to "help" people, they have devoted their life to the study of this field, their advice is based on what they know works) Involve your daughter in the choice of food. Let her count the calories and fat content - try to find out what her problem with "fat" is. Could it be possible she is worried about where it came from, animal? If so blessing the food will help. Does she think it will give her a heart attack, what is her problem with it? If she can't/won't tell you then she has to eat it. As far as high carb food goes, well, ask her if carbs make her feel sick after consumption. There are plenty of highly nutritious recipes she can choose from, giving her back some control. Nutrition is the goal here. I hope she is taking a high dose multi vitamin, she could make herself a smoothy and put it in. Work with her intelligence, help her to refocus - replacing her obsession with carbs/fat with nutrition facts. Exercise. What/who is outside the front door? Walking around your back yard or inside the house for 5 mins a time, then 6 etc. Read up on hormones, they really have alot of explaining to do :) !! Barley3 pls ask specific questions, to get specific answers. ..other people read this and whatever you need to know, so do they.

Help is out there...just not in the form of "Eating Disorders Carers Clinic". So go round about, go to a face to face Eating Disorder meeting, ask another "carer" how do they help their self.. you do not want to leave her alone, are you open to the idea of hosting a group at your home? Look after you - I cannot stress this enough. Time for a new hobby or to resurrect an old onepainting/gardening, even learning a new language, you have to get out your frustrations. When "a person" is consumed by control issues they must compromise if they are in a group. Whatever is the root problem for her real or imagined it is real to her. Get yourself a counselor/therapist for you, only.

I remember the people across the road went through similar to you (mum, dad, beautiful daughter) Dad became a hermit, the mum cut her hours back at the bank to be at home, the mum came over to our house and asked if I could make friends with her daughter (she explained her daughters illness and how over time friends etc had slipped away...) I used to get out in the garden very early (no heat) sometimes she would come and help. She had zero interest in gardening. We did not "chat" much. So one day I was all upset and at loss as to the days heat killing whatever I planted in the morning. She, over time, worked out nutrtional/hydration requirements for the plants - well long story short, never seen a better garden since. She became a horticulturist.


Hi joolzzz, thank you for your reply. I have taken your advice and am in the process of accessing counselling for me/us. As you say, we are feeling completely drawn in by this illness and need to get a bit of ME time now and again. I don't think the issue of carbs/fats is as deep as being the fact that its from an animal or risk of heart attack etc.. She wants to eat everything, its just her head is saying "no".because she doesn't deserve to eat! She is very clued up on nutrition and what a body needs/requires to remain healthy - she was studying this at A level for her sports science subject, but alas this has stopped due to her no longer attending school or taking any exams - maybe in the future. She has isolated herself from her "friends" and some of our family so she is in a lonely place. Talking face to face with others who are/have been in a similar situation would be a great help, i'm sure. Will look into this also - not sure whats about around here. Thanks again.


When I was very ill with anorexia my parents found it very very hard. There is no right or wrong way of dealing with it. My mother took the same approach you describe eg the emotional support, whilst my father took more of an intimidator role trying to force me into eating. Although I hated my dad for it and felt he was trying to take control, I know that it was an important part of keeping me alive. And then I had my mum to cry to after eating! After years and years i am fully recovered and I am thoroughly grateful for the roles both my parents took but as I said it depends on you and your daughter as to what works. If she is severely underweight then you must do whatever will make her eat and if that involves being intimidating then so be it. This is just to ensure she gets her weight up to a safe level. However, I will tell you now that she will only fully recover when she is ready and you will have to accept that it may be a long haul in which you will have to be there as a support base and to monitor her weight. I hope this helps being from a sufferers point of view rather than the docs x


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