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Family dieting during anorexia "recovery" - intense guilt

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I've been trying to recover from anorexia for several years now post hospitalisation and day-centre treatment. In the past few months I was discharged from the eating disorder OP service so I don't have any specialist help for the first time in 7 years. I currently have EDNOS/anorexia binge-purge, and am at a supposedly healthy weight but I struggle massively with accepting this as being good, the drive in my head is still strongly anorexic. My mum (who I live with) is unhealthily overweight/obese, and is on weightwatchers (again) - but she's being really obvious about it, all the "logging" exercise and foods, points etc., yet criticising my supposedly obsessive food diaries....and she's started to comment on my eating (proportions of food groups, healthier alternatives).


I feel trapped as in the past she has had to sacrifice her own health in order not to trigger me...but now I'm all seemingly better, eating much more flexibly I guess it seems that I'm fine with it. We've had conversations where she has said that it is partly my responsibility that she is unhealthy and is as much physical danger as I am (at the opposite end of the scale when I was at my worst)...so I feel I have to do everything to support her this time round otherwise it would be my fault if she died. So I've helped her join my gym, I congratulate her when she doesn't eat something unhealthy or she goes to a class or eats a healthy meal... When inside it's just making the one voice that is actually inside my head (I have a couple outside of my head - but that's a whole other story!) say that I'm not even doing weightwatchers properly, something I should be good at (given I had severe anorexia for 4 years).


Ultimately...I just feel that now I look "healthy" (to me, FAT) and behave more normally around food/don't make all the comments that I'm thinking, there's this expectation from everyone that things are okay and they can say anything. It just encourages my secretive purging which is bad at the moment; and also my guilt for eating in front of people (something I've got better at).


Sorry for the essay...I just hate that if I look healthy on the outside it doesn't seem to matter how I feel on the inside. NB. I find it very hard to not fake liveliness and positivity, so it's rare that I'll act how I feel...the voices I experience do not accept showing weakness.


Does anyone else have experience of this? How is it best to cope with it? I can't say "can you stop weightwatchers" because I've done that in the past and her ill health has become my fault.



Edited by -lemurlibs21-

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Her ill health is not your fault.

She's a grown up, and she is perfectly capable of her own food choices. She's perfectly capable of keeping these things to herself, too (so far as you've mentioned she's not also eating disordered?)

Maybe you can have a ground rule where you're not in the kitchen at the same time, or where it's verboten around you?

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Yeah, I think ground rules are probably needed. Its not your fault she's ill, but if the weight watchers thing is triggering you then you need to distance yourself away from it, and if it means your mother during meal preparation/times then that's how its got to be. You need to think about yourself in this one.


I went on weight watchers and it dragged me back into places I forgot existed. I was a healthy weight, recovered for nearly two years and my housemate was on it. She was in my face counting, logging etc. Yet all she did was criticise me for noting what I was eating (behaviour I have never really stopped, it helped a lot with recovery), I don't know why I thought a system where counting was involved was a good thing, especially having an eating disordered background.


My house mate suspected I had an eating disorder when we moved in together, she was overweight and I was underweight so her being nosey about my eating was nothing new. She also likes to be in control. When I was finally happy with my weight and my life (I had been in recovery for over a year) she decided she was going to go on WW, which was great, I had nothing against her trying to lose weight. it was just the pressure and rubbing it my face, I don't even think she knew she was doing it. Either way I tried to fight the triggers and I failed. I have schedules and we'd often eat together, when making meals she would narate what she was doing, how many points she had saved, how many points she could save if she then swapped this, how many she now had left for the weekend and how many she was going to blow on pizza. It drove me INSANE. I caved and joined in. Don't ever do that, EVER. WW is a bad place for people with a history of ED, particularly if calorie control was your main thing... its just a bad bad place.


The only way I could get control of my eating again was to avoid her when she was having her food. To make sure that I didn't look if she was sat scribbling in her diary and most importantly to remember that counting points is not the same as counting calories and not to let yourself get tricked into trying to mimic her pointing system. Don't make food with her if you can help it, I understand that she is your mother and so family meals may be unavoidable sometimes but if you really think this is bothering you then make a stand.


If avoiding her at meals is too 'harsh' then perhaps sit her down and have a chat. Write down what you want to say, that way if things get heated or teary then she can read it and you don't have to sit there, and you know... feel bad for not getting it all out. Tell her that you support her, and you want her to succeed with this weight loss thing, but you're also trying very hard to eat and be normal too. Tell her what's triggering you, and what's making you unhappy. If she wont listen or tries to emotionally turn this one around to make you look bad, don't try and fight a conversation that is only going to make you feel crappy.


Take a deep breath, stand back and see what steps YOU can put in place to avoid the triggering situations. 


*Also sorry for the essay!* Let me know how it goes. :-D


Good luck! :-) 

Edited by Paperskyscraper

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YOUR fault if she dies of obesity????  no no no


I am overweight.  I am a WeightWatcher.  I am active in the program and tracking actively. 

One thing we learn in my group is that we are solely responsible for what we put in our mouth.


You are not at fault.  I encourage your mother to get support from her group.  And talk with her leader.

She can track without discussing it with you.  I must say though that I talk about it a lot, and I am sure

my husband is tired of it.


With WW after the healthy, slow weight loss is the Maintenance program.  And on maintainence

you learn new habits to maintain your healthy weight without a loss and without gains.


This is learning a healthy eating plan - how much protein, carbs, and plenty of fruits, vegs, and water.

My opinion is that the process of healing from either over eating or anorexia must involve learning

a healthy, normal way to eat.  Hopefully one day you will both be in this place.


Her ill health is not your fault - and there is no reason (from my point of view) which you both

should not be eating healthy protein, carbs, and lots of fruits and vegetables.


If you have a therapist or doctor or ED group than get some help talking with your mother.

Let a professional help you set some guidelines with her. 

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Don't feel guilty, it is not your fault. You are not responsible for someone else. She's your mother.  Focus on your own recovery. Therapy can be beneficial for both of you. Not necessarily having therapy together though! That can wait until you're both ready, if you even try it.


Congratulations on being healthy. That's huge in recovery. 

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