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BelindaB 03-17-2004 08:31 AM

Overcoming a phobia of fat in anorexia
Hi, I'm hoping for some advice on how best to help my daughter. She is 16 and recovering from anorexia. She is gaining weight and is really working hard to keep to her diet. She is not afraid of gaining weight but she cannot bring herself to eat hardly any fat - she scrutinizes packets etc. and cannot bring herself to eat anything which is not 98 per cent fat free, so no spreads, eggs, barely any red meat, and off course no cakes, biscuits, etc. I'm not allowed to use any oil in cooking, or grease any baking trays. One saving grace - she will now eat oily fish! Up to now we have managed OK like this but now the professional medical team want us to start challenging this part of her anorexic behaviour, because by doing what she wants we are reinforcing the anorexia. But how to do this? She says she understands all the health benefits of eating some fat but just 'can't' bring herself to eat it. I rang the Eating Disorders Association here in the UK, but they recommended NOT confronting her. Yesterday she and I ended up having a row about it, which I know was all wrong . . . but it's so upsetting seeing her driven by this obsession and I really don't know what to do any more. Has anyone else been through something similar, as a sufferer or a carer? Desperately need some help.

raindrop 03-17-2004 08:06 PM

Re: Overcoming a phobia of fat in anorexia
i can understand what your daughter's going through...obviously it's not ideal but at least she IS gaining weight. and really, it's the calories that make you gain weight; you could eat just fat but if the calorie content is too low then you can actually lose weight....

i think that the oily fish is a good beginning on the fat issue, maybe you could compromise w/her on something, like just gradually bringing eggs back into her diet? i definitely wouldn't force any of this stuff on her, but i would start greasing the trays again, for instance...she might pick away the crust of the bread that touched the butter but i really think she'll get tired of it after a while once she gets even better. oh yeah, one more thing, make sure you don't sneak any fats into her food (like saying something has no butter when it actually does) because once she finds out she'll have lost trust. i just wanted to mention that 'cause it was an issue for me.

good luck! it sounds like you're both on the right track. :)

Aurora 03-18-2004 03:02 PM

Re: Overcoming a phobia of fat in anorexia
Hiya Belinda,
I'm from the uk too. I am trying to get help to overcome my anorexia too. The edauk are very nice and they have a helpline which was my first call for help.
Your daughter is doing well just by recognising she needs to change her attitudes. That doesn't make it any easier to do this though. Unfortunately the ones we love are the ones who suffer right along with us when we have an eating disorder.
I am 23 and my husband bears the brunt of my anger when I don't want to do well. The thing with anorexia is that as much as you want to beat it there is always another part which actually wants to keep it.
I am a vegetarian and I know many anorexia sufferers find it hard to think of eating animal fats because they are more easily absorbed. Maybe you can gradually incorporate some vegetable fats though, just as a starting point. Not a lot, maybe you can have a 'safe' day of the week like on sundays when you are allowed to use a little oil in your cooking or she is 'allowed' to eat a mini yoghurt that isn't low fat or something. I must agree with Raindrop though, don't try and be sneaky and add stuff behind her back because it will only end up backfiring.
Other than that you need to ensure she keeps getting counseling and therapy and realise that these things don't change overnight. Her anorexia has worked hard to form these habits and breaking them is a long and painfully slow process. Good luck to your daughter and to yourself.
H xoxo :angel:

BelindaB 03-19-2004 04:58 AM

Re: Overcoming a phobia of fat in anorexia
Raindrop and Aurora, thanks for your replies, they are both really helpful. My daughter's psychologist has been explaining to me that her fat phobia seems to be the real 'core belief' of her anorexia, i.e. the bit that doesn't want to let go and as she's already surrendered quite a bit of her e.d. by gaining weight, having to limit exercise etc. this bit is going to put up a real fight - because if she surrenders it she'll feel as though she's totally given in.

Thanks for the warnings about not being sneaky - I'm such a lousy liar ( I usually go bright red!) that this would surely backfire on me, as you say.

Good luck to both of you

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