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We were almost 2 years into my daughter’s recovery from Anorexia. Life had regained an almost normal rhythm. 

Except, it wasn’t normal. Because my daughter, at age 14, had zero control over her meals and the food she ate.  


Because of me.

I made all of her food.

I plated her plate for all of her meals.

I made her breakfast.

I packed her lunches.

I made her dinners. 

I told her when to have a snack. Sometimes, I told her what to have for a snack. 


I took every ounce of her control dealing with food away.


Because 2 years ago, she had been a very sick little girl at the hands of an eating disorder. An eating disorder who wanted to kill her. 

An eating disorder who weakened her heart and her body.

An eating disorder who owned her thoughts and her actions.

An eating disorder who would not stop until it had won. 

And if the eating disorder won, then that meant we had lost. 

And in losing, it meant we lost her. 

A parent’s worst nightmare. 

Anorexia is a disease. 

A deadly disease. 

And there is one medicine. 


Food nourishes the body and the brain.

Food weakens Anorexia.

Once the body and the brain are fully nourished, Anorexia has trouble surviving. 


The amazing, life saving cure for my daughter. 

Re-feeding her was not easy. It was hard. It was scary. It was isolating. But it was worth it. 

The nourishment fueled her body and her brain, it pushed Anorexia out the door.

And put her into recovery.


A beautiful and safe place to be.

We had fallen into such a comfortable pattern. 

I made all of the food.

My daughter ate what I gave her. 

This worked.

It worked really well during the early stages of her recovery.

And it still worked well now.

It was comfortable for the both of us.

Except for one thing…..

My daughter wasn’t learning to feed herself. 

I knew this, in the back of my mind. But, I struggled to give her back any control.



Fear of the eating disorder coming back. 

Fear of the chaos the eating disorder causes.

Fear of losing the calm in our home.

Fear that the eating disorder could win. 

Fear that I could loose her. 



If I made all of her meals

If I made sure she was well nourished

If I made sure she had the medicine that she needed

If I had that control


I could keep her safe.

I could protect her.

I could save her from Anorexia. 


Despite me having all of this control, a couple months ago, she lost weight.

Weight loss in a child who is in recovery from Anorexia is terrifying. 

As a mom, the weight loss sparked panic and anxiety inside of me. For a moment, the feelings I had felt when she was first diagnosed came flooding back. 


This time I knew more. I had knowledge. I had tools. I had support. I had what I needed to help my daughter. 

And with the help of our therapist, we have pushed through this set-back. And we will continue to push forward.

Set-backs happen. Recovery is not linear.

A set-back is not failure. Sometimes a set-back gives us the chance to re-set and move forward.

Our set-back, gave my daughter and me the chance to re-set the path of her treatment and her recovery.

It was a re-set that we needed to have. But one that I was afraid of. 

During a recent family therapy session my daughter said 10 key words in reference to the food she eats. She said:

If you don’t let me try, I’ll never learn how.


My daughters words. Not the eating disorder’s words.

And you know what?

She. Is. Right. 

She is going to grow up. 

She is going to move out of our house someday. 

She is going to have to feed herself.

She is no longer at a critical spot in her recovery. 

She needs to learn. 

She needs the tools. 

She needs to know how to be independent.


Very scary for this mama.

Food is what keeps my daughter out of Anorexia’s harmful ways. 

Food is her medicine. 

Food saved her.

Food that I have had control over, to ensure she has enough nutrition. 

To give up that control, is terrifying…..yet necessary for her to continue in her recovery.

It is time for her to learn. She is ready. I know she can do this.


For the first time in 2 years, she packed her own school lunch. I sat in the kitchen with her. She showed me everything she packed. She asked questions like:

Is that enough? 

Should I add more? 

How does it look?

There was no fear or anger in her voice. As there once would have been when the eating disorder was present.

She was calm. She was excited. She was proud.

She was in control. Not the eating disorder. 

We still have a long ways to go.  We might have more set-backs along the way. And with those set-backs, we will re-set and push forward.  

I have watched my daughter be brave throughout her treatment and her recovery.

Now it is my turn to be brave.

I will push through my fear.

I will be brave.

I will help her take back the control. 

We will push forward to a full recovery.

We will do it together.

 Today, we took one small step in her recovery


One giant leap in her independence and healing. 



  1. Ali Abbruzzi

    Thank you for sharing your experience. You capture the fear and desperation so well. Your daughter’s words brought tears to my eyes. So wise! I wish you both strength and support (and success) on this journey.

  2. Jennifer

    My husband and I were just talking about setbacks this morning so thank you for this timely message. Interestingly, I feel like we turned over too much control back to our daughter, now 17, too early in her recovery process. Now, attempting “reset”, it feels like trying to trap and cage a feral animal. Our daughter has always been strong-willed and initially it looked like she was leveraging this strength against the anorexia; lately it feels like the ED has harnessed this power for its destructive goals. Sorry to hijack your thread!

  3. Lisa

    Every major step forward has usually been preceded by a set back that at first feels terribly hopeless but made us stop, review and try something new.
    It is a great place to be in that relapse is your biggest fear. May you both keep moving forward.

  4. Ha Vu

    Thank you for sharing. My daughter had Anorexia Nervosa in Mar, 2020 and we had very hard time with her in the hospital and also at home but finally we made it, her weight is back to normal and she eats all what I give her.
    However 3 days ago, she refused to finish what I gave her, just eat little and she did exercise a lot. That made me very worry. I worry she will relapse.

    Please kindly help me. What should I do to prevent the disease happen again? She is 17 years old now and I worry once she turns 18. She will decide by her own, I can’t help her to overcome this disease anymore. Is there any legal documents that I can prepare in advance so I can still help her when she 18? Thank you.

    • Jenntg

      We had to have power of attorney for our 17 year old son..he’s 19 now, and we are grateful for it. We used Mama Bear Legal Forms, and it was not difficult. Check out the F.E.A.S.T. website, lots of help there. Use your leverage, this disease is harm-resistant.. and while all our kids and young adults are different, this works for our own very stubborn SAN … if he doesn’t eat, no school, no going out, no electronics, etc…does she want anything? Phone, car, school etc? All can be used as leverage.

  5. Joannah

    I have just tuned in from Sydney. My daughter’s journey with E.D. started in lockdown,,she was 12 . We have been to Hell and back more times then i can remember. Reading everyone’s comments inspire me to soldier on. There have been many steps forward and many steps back. I now see this as a squiggly road to recovery. Every speed bump is excruciating, but we get a little stronger and a little wiser. I have learnt to pace myself, and breath deeply. I have found an excellent team that my daughter can work with..That takes a while… I don’t blame myself any more, or my ex husband. I know food is medicine,and every journey is different. I have no doubt that this beautiful intelligent girl will get there. To you all , i feel your pain and anguish.. Let’s find so real scientific answers to this deadly disorder soon. Thank- you all for your honesty.

  6. Susan Gaines

    Thank you for your post….this is exactly what I needed to hear. My 12-year old daughter is about to be discharged from her program that she has been in for 12 weeks. I am scared. Your words are spot on. Thank you.

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