My Family-Based Therapy Treatment experience & plant-based doctors wo helped me recover

Updated: Nov 28, 2021

I cover some of this in my Eating Disorder Recovery Story interview with therapist Kiki Attonito:

In 2016 when I was 17, I entered a Family-Based Eating Disorder outpatient treatment program. This was recommended by my primary care doctor who saw how I had a lot of classic symptoms of being underweight going on, such as bruises that weren’t healing, coldness, a heart rate of about 50 beats per minute, and of course weight loss.

I was willing to see a therapist and do an intake to the program, but was disappointed that right away the therapist labeled me as a girl willfully trying to lose weight. From that point on, not once did any of my medical providers ask me why or how I began to lose weight. Looking back this was a shocking oversight.

I don’t think I was necessarily mandated to do Family-Based treatment, but the eating disorder physician I’d been assigned said this was the best type of program to do.

It was at one of the top children's hospitals in the country. It was a terrible experience for many reasons and actually worsened my eating disorder. Besides the reasons I mentioned in my video explaining Dr. Guisinger's Adapted to Famine theory, that they completely ignored legitimate food allergies I had and forced me to eat all those foods, my family was not a good candidate for FBT.

In FBT the parents are given total control over the child's food intake. In essence, my family relationships had already been dysfunctional and it was very damaging for all of us for them to be told to be in 100% control of me. One of my parents had disordered eating themselves at the time, so for them to be in charge of my intake was a mistake.

Yes, my parents were in control. I actually rebelled in the sense that I often ate more than they gave me. My parents said and did a lot of things which they are deeply sorry for. Mealtimes were like battlegrounds and a lot of tears were shed and things were thrown around.

I did recover my weight, but it came at the expense of the relationship between my parents and I deteriorating so much that for years I could barely talk to them, let alone dare eat with them. I had constant nightmares about eating with people and in college I had a hard time eating in dining halls in front of others, because I constantly had anxiety about people maybe judging me and my food.

And of course, the whole time I was still getting then-undiagnosed allergic reactions to food, so food was still a problem for me.

The FBT experience scarred me for many years and made me lose all trust in the medical system. It was when I lost weight again in 2019 and needed to recover it that I decided I'd get help from people who would actually listen to me. I did a lot of reading and the "all-in" recovery method popularized by Dr. Nicola Rinaldi really resonated with me. I practiced that.


In addition, I saw Dr. Csilla Veress at TrueNorth Health Center a couple times, who was so sweet and understanding, and was one of the first doctors to believe me when I said I desperately wanted to gain weight but for some reason couldn't keep it on. I wasn’t eating a diet that was calorically-dense enough at the time and I was still moving way too much.

In essence, I did a lot of self-education to recover by myself and choose medical practitioners who I felt were best equipped to assist me. Learning of Dr. Shan Guisinger's work was of course paramount to my recovery. I list more people who helped me in this post: