The Journey Of Jennifer and her Story on her Eating Disorder.

Posted by Samantha Rentz on July 20th 2013

At R.E.A.L we don’t just focus on those who wish to lose weight, but those whom want to gain weight, as we work with those suffering with anorexia as well as being over-weight. This is the story of Jen, a 15 year old girl, who was very underweight and as a result her health was suffering. Before we begin here is what Jen looked like before and how she looks today.

Jen at just over 6 stone

Jen today at over 7 stone and fighting fit with and her dog Pepsi!

Like all of us, struggling with food and our emotions, Jen was using food as a tool against dealing with her emotions and starving herself was her way of coping as it was the only aspect of her life she felt that she could control. Jen could no longer eat in-front of her family and had resorted to eating alone in her room away from anyone else. Dealing with the other end of the spectrum is a slightly harder and a longer process but one that we can do at R.E.A.L. So we started off by talking an awful lot to get to the root of the problem and getting Jen to trust someone else to prepare her food and trust our food plans. That was the hardest part as anyone suffering from anorexia knows!

In order to hide her actual eating and to avoid being seen ‘pushing her food around on a plate’, Jen had become the ultimate ‘fussy’ eater. Convincing herself and others that she disliked so many food choices that she so badly needed to fuel her body and keep up with her energy expenditure requirements. When we did an initial 24 hour recall we were concerned that Jen was not getting enough protein and her carbohydrate and fat intake was off balance. Living off very little protein and opting for vast amounts of fizzy drinks and chocolate she was depriving her body and mind. This resulted in poor sleep patterns, loss of concentration, loss of memory and feeling tired most of the time with little motivation and her school, family relationships and personal life was suffering. I should like to point out that like most young adults, that Jen comes from a loving and caring family, so caring and concerned that they employed R.E.A.L services to save their daughter. It is testament to both Jen and her loving supportive family that she is well, healthy and alive today. As parents we so often blame ourselves when our children are suffering, but that is simply not the case.

After building up trust with Jen, the hardest part, R.E.A.L founder, Sam Rentz, took it upon herself to ask Jen’s parents if they would consider letting Jen go on a brief holiday with Sam Rentz to Greece. This was accepted. The reason for this seemingly drastic measure was to remove Jen from her comfort zone and spend quality time to really talk and get away from her routine, aka daily rituals.

So Sam was flying on an earlier flight to Greece but agreed to wait for Jen at the airport and take her to the island. This in itself may seem mundane, but for a 15 year old girl was no mean feat. All Jen’s fears had to be confronted. Whilst Jen had been busy trying to alienate herself and her food from her family she was very much cosseted by her family in a bid to try and make up for what they saw as an issue that was down to lack of parental skills. Once again I must point out that the latter was far from the truth.

Jen panicked all the way totally out of her comfort zone but R.E.A.L stayed on the phone the entire time with reassurance. Once both Sam and Jen had met up at the airport in Greece the transition had already begun! Jen had been seated next to a lovely family on her flight and it was Sam frantically calling out Jen’s name to rein her in at Rhodes airport as Jen kept disappearing to find her new found friends! Once again this may all sound irrelevant but these physiological tested theories were beginning to take effect. Trust, accountability, fending for oneself and being out of ones comfort zone are all life-changing experiences.

So Sam and Jen spent 2 weeks in Greece. Not as idyllic as it sounds! Jen was woken up early each morning to avoid the laying in bed all day to avoid food, never asked to eat but always taken out to eat… the hardest part. The first week Jen fought every mouthful of the food she ordered, playing around with food and being ‘fussy’/fearful. BUT by the second week the shy unconfident Jen was making so many friends, (unheard of) that Sam herself had to keep a firm reign on Jen as Sam was responsible for Jen. By week 2 Jen had started buying snacks at lunchtime because the early starts and swimming were making her hungry, something she had overridden but now she was actually listening to her own body. Gone were the evenings of her playing around with food and gone was the fear of trying new calorific foods. Infact Jen was eating more than she ever had. Then the 2 weeks were up and Sam took Jen to the airport to get her back to her parents confident that significant mindset changes had taken place.


We speak to Jen at least twice a week, if not more, 7 months on to ensure she is remaining fit and healthy. Jen came to see me today and wow what a difference a year makes! Jen’s hair is growing back, she sleeps, she eats and she has excelled at school making her an A+ student and we have great hopes for her. As her family says, they have their daughter back and now the dinner table is full of laughter. Of course they are still dealing with a 16 year hormonal young lady:) Jen’s mother often remarks that R.E.A.L saved Jen’s life but that simply is not true. In the end Jen wanted help and she changed her life and thanks to her amazing loving and supportive family and determination…R.E.A.L was just the litmus paper.

It is vital that we point out that this is not about food or dieting or numbers on the scales. This is about being healthy and changing your life for good and not letting food rule your life!

We dedicate this journey to both Jennifer and her amazing, loving and supportive family



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