Zsuzsanna Anderson and Creating Eating Disorders

Zsuzsanna Anderson and Creating Eating Disorders June 4, 2019

Last night when I wrote about Zsuzsanna Anderson putting locks on her freezers, refrigerators and cabinets I hadn’t seen her explanation video yet.

Now I have, and it’s a road map for how to create an eating disorder in a child by food restrictions. It was very revealing, showing that what is going on in that household should be investigated by CPS.

Here’s Zsu’s video.

For those of you without strong stomachs enough to watch this let me break it down. Zsuzsanna gives her reasons for disliking snacking, and it’s all boils down mostly to two things 1 – it is personally inconvenient to her and 2 – it costs money.

She starts off with the most obvious of the lies – that eating between meals sets kids up for a lifetime of entitlement, instant gratification, while learning to wait for a meal teaches them to only eat when hungry.

But here’s the thing with that. Kids generally burn a lot of calories. They are usually much more physically active than adults. They are growing, changing and developing every single day and sometimes that takes more calories than three meals. What she is actually teaching the kids is that their needs do not matter, denial of self in an unhealthy way.

Then Zsu moves on to ‘intermittent fasting’ which is just a new fancy way to say don’t eat between 5 pm and 7 am, something that is perfectly fine for grown adults but may not be appropriate for children. She genuinely believes that obesity happens because parents do not stick to the three squares, one piece of fruit and no snacks.

It’s more likely to happen when you are too controlling of the food, or not properly feeding your children. Food insecurity and insufficiency are real things, that negatively impact a person’s entire lives.

Which leads me to a spin off of her ranting about she likes to keep a clean kitchen. Zsuzsanna starts talking about finding food wrappers in very odd places, including what looked like an empty chip bag behind the dryer. This is not normal! This is what food hoarding by a child who has been living in food insecurity for years. Her older children have been sneaking food, likely for a very long time now.

The most telling moment of what is going on here was in Zsu’s words near the end where she says it is the teenagers that are the food problems. She states she has to lock up the food only when she leaves the home and the teenagers are there alone.

Teenagers, starting at puberty, have vastly different food needs than others in the home. They are going through their final growth spurts, and their bodies are calling for much higher calorie amounts than those three meals. It’s not rebellion, it’s biology. It’s higher metabolism during a time of critical growth. Most of the legitimate medical pages recommend two to three snacks per day on top of meals for growing teens and sometimes more for boys.

This is not letting your children trash the kitchen scarfing down junk food willy-nilly. This is you being aware of needs, and meeting those needs.

Kids with unmet needs for food will turn to the hoarding that Zsu is dealing with now.

I’m not sure if Zsu is merely selfishly short sided here, or deliberately controlling every morsel going into those kids mouth, but it is unhealthy.

Zsuzsanna references all the haters and people she thinks do not have a clue in this mornings post and on the video. Sorry, Zsuzsanna, but I have worked for ages with kids having food insecurity issues in a residential treatment center and through my work in the social work field. I have also raised three children without food issues or obesity who are conscience of what they eat. No one was starved, we fed the kids when they needed it. Like normal rational reasonable people will do.

EVERYTHING she is saying in this video is a huge red flag that indicates that her older children are dealing with food insufficiency every day.


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About Suzanne Titkemeyer
Suzanne Titkemeyer went from a childhood in Louisiana to a life lived in the shadow of Washington D.C. For many years she worked in the field of social work, from national licensure to working hands on in a children's residential treatment center. Suzanne has been involved with helping the plights of women and children' in religious bondage. She is a ordained Stephen's Minister with many years of counseling experience. Now she's retired to be a full time beach bum in Tamarindo, Costa Rica with the monkeys and iguanas. She is also a thalassophile. She also left behind years in a Quiverfull church and loves to chronicle the worst abuses of that particular theology. She has been happily married to her best friend for the last 32 years. You can read more about the author here.
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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Lucy

    Watching the video, I noticed a rather interesting thing about the empty chip bag that Zsuzsanna shook, that caught my eye, given that I know what it’s like to have been a kid worried about having food restricted (though in my case it was due to a combination of restricted freedom and intermittent periods of food restriction stemming in large part from medical advice given to my parents, when my parents didn’t intend to be abusive or controlling but had gotten several tidbits of weird and in some cases outright bad info from doctors and autism professionals). So I was once that kid who sneaks and saves food and tries to get every scrap I can. I know what I am talking about here.

    Now, Zsuzsanna shook the chip bag for emphasis, and said it was empty “except for, um, ant food“. Except here’s the thing. Zsuzsanna would not consider the chip crumbs worth eating. She is used to having control over her food supply, so she doesn’t have a clue what it is like to lack such control.

    The kids, however, certainly see it differently. I heard that shake just as surely as Zsu did. And what I heard, as a former food-sneaking child, was a substantial amount of crumbs and even whole pieces that can be popped into your mouth like a little cracker (which they definitely were, the shake sounds like some of those chip pieces had a bit of weight to them). Like, maybe an entire chip bag’s worth of perfectly edible (though subpar) pieces.

    The kids weren’t hiding the chip bag just to dispose of it without mom seeing. They were saving the chip pieces for a later snack. I would absolutely bet on it.

    So, and I say this to the author of this post, you did work with kids in situations like this. But I bet you didn’t know that the kids saw that seemingly empty chip back as a full, substantial snack that they could eat later. Becuase from what I can gather, that’s something you wouldn’t know unless you have been in that situation.

  • Lucy

    Zsuzsanna?

    Okay, I have no clue why that other comment got flagged.

  • Lucy

    shake

  • Lucy

    bet

  • Lucy

    sneak

  • Lucy

    dispose

  • Lucy

    Okay, so I tested the comment I posted about how my experiences as a former food-sneaking child tie into this, and all but the last paragraph, posted in isolation, got me flagged. I think maybe some phrases have to do with this here.

    EDIT: freedom? No.

  • Lucy

    @Suzanne Titkemeyer

    I wanted to say something about the Zsu’s video. about how, while Zsu didn’t think the amount of chips in the bag amounted to food, the kids did. If you’ve been locked out of the system, that comment might have been deleted for good.

  • Lucy

    To the mod (whose name seems to be banned):

    I wanted to say something about the Zsu’s video. about how, while Zsu didn’t think the amount of chips in the bag amounted to food, the kids did. If you’ve been locked out of the system, that comment might have been deleted for good.

  • Lucy

    I wanted to say something about the Zsu’s video. about how, while Zsu didn’t think the amount of chips in the bag amounted to food, the kids did. If you’ve been locked out of the system, that comment might have been deleted for good.

  • Lucy

    I wanted to say something about Zsu’s video. About how, while Zsu didn’t think the amount of chips in the bag amounted to food, the kids did.

    EDIT: OMG, that is the phrase that got banned.

  • Lucy

    I wanted to say something about Zsu’s video. About the time Zsu shook the chip bag.

  • Lucy

    Oh. Apparently “chip” is banned.

    EDIT: No, it’s not.

  • Lucy

    Or is it “bag”?

    Oh wait, “bag” is banned.

  • Lucy

    “cracker” is banned.

  • Lucy

    To the mod (whose name seems to be banned):

    I wanted to say something about the Zsu’s video. about how, while Zsu didn’t think the amount of chips in the b@g amounted to food, the kids did. If you’ve been locked out of the system, that comment might have been deleted for good. So forgive me if I’m repeating myself a little or spamming here in an attempt to get this insight published:’

    The reason I say this is because when Zsu showed the video, at the 10:00 mark or thereabouts, she said that the b@g was empty “except for, um, ant food“. And then she shook it for emphasis. And here’s the thing. Once upon a time, I was that kid who snuck food due to combined lack of overall control and freedom, and having my food restricted (by well-meaning parents who feared for my well-being, but restricted is restricted). And when I heard that b@g being shook, I heard some substance in that shake. I heard a number of chip pieces that had some weight to them and can be picked up with fingers and eaten like a tiny cr@cker. And from the sound and size of that shake, there were at least enough chip pieces in that “empty” b@g to fill a custard cup, if not half a bowl.

    And I am certain the kids knew that. They knew it, and they hid the b@g in weird places (like behind the dryer) so Mom wouldn’t find it and so they could go back and eat the chip pieces later as a snack.

    That is why they didn’t throw the b@g away.

    And another note to the mod – and you might want to take note of this as a former social worker, and others working as such may also want to take note of this – it seems like a potential red flag for food restriction (which may not be enough on its own but can be part of a devastating pattern when taken together with other things) – is when kids treat apparent waste scraps as food resources in their own right. And I don’t mean the types of waste scraps used in cuisine typical to the culture, or those that parents plan to reuse as part of food-waste avoidance. Nor do I mean when a kid saves things and talks to the parents willingly about how they are trying to save food to save the environment. That is normal kid behavior. What is not normal is when a kid 1) treats as a precious food source something their parents would typically throw away (with “precious” being an operative word here, like when one thinks something is so good they will lick a bowl completely clean to get every last bit) and 2) will take extreme measures, up to and including hiding said food scraps, to ensure that the parent does not throw the food away. And 3) may become very distressed if those scrappy bits are taken away, even if they don’t seem to be worth eating to an outsider.

    And the more serious the deprivation, the smaller the amount of minimum scraps will be that said kid treats as a food source. They even refer to that sort of thing in Ender’s Shadow.

  • Polytropos

    Agreed. The poor kid intended to come back to those chip particles, otherwise they would have carefully disposed of the evidence.

  • Lucy

    And of course, the many times Zsu throws out the carefully stashed particles means that the kids will be extra-careful to hide their food particles in as many places that they can find, so if Mommy Dearest throws away one stash, they still have a few left. And that is entirely consistent with Zsu finding these bags all over the place – the kids don’t want to put all their eggs in one basket.

    But if Zsu acknowledged the true nature of this behavior, it would require her to admit that it isn’t coming from a place of entitlement, but a place of rather the opposite of entitlement.

  • Lucy

    And I know they would have carefully disposed of the evidence – like I used to with meds I was trying to avoid taking due to bad side effects and zero help from said meds, moving the food aside, and carefully laying the truly empty b@g at the very bottom of the trash can so Mom won’t see it, then putting the other trash back where it was.

  • smrnda

    This is pretty scary. Kids are growing. They need to eat more often than adults, because they typically can’t consume as large of portions at a time but yet have higher caloric requirements. Having kids also means you have to adjust.

  • AFo

    If this were a normal family, the older kids and Zsu would be able to sit down and have a discussion about their food needs and appropriate snacks. Obviously letting them gorge on chips and candy and whatnot is unhealthy, but I don’t see a problem with keeping a supply of crackers, pretzels, fruit, and nuts in a convenient spot so the kids can just grab some whenever they want. They’re also old enough to be able to clean up after themselves, so Zsu shouldn’t really be stressing about that, at least in a normal environment.

  • valleycat1

    And teens are notorious for eating everything in sight or drinking a LOT of milk. It has been my personal experience that kids who grow up with reasonably free access to food are better at self regulation or restraint when around food, whereas those who grow up with major restrictions will binge or hoard any time they get the opportunity.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    She also does not like them using extra paper plates, allotting 3 plates per kid per day.

  • Polytropos

    She genuinely believes that obesity happens because parents do not stick to the three squares, one piece of fruit and no snacks.

    My mother believed this and, like Zsu, she made a big hairy deal out of only eating home cooked meals at home, no fast food or junk food and absolutely no snacking ever. And yes, I was inclined to hoard food as a kid, and in my twenties I had to re-think my relationship with food after I put on a bit of weight.

  • Polytropos

    Zsu seems to have a very unhealthy and worrying conception of what entitlement means. She seems to think it’s entitlement when the kids want to have some control over their own food intake, and I suspect she also sees it as “entitlement” when they want to have any kind of agency. Those kids are going to have some interesting stories to tell their therapists when they grow up.

  • Lucy

    Indeed.

    EDIT: That’s my reply to both your comments.

  • Mimc

    Do they just use paper plates for everything?

  • Mimc

    I agree. My parents didn’t even restrict Halloween candy. I learned to stretch out my stash for weeks. My siblings preferred to be less restrictive but they only overindulged once. That’s one of the few things I’m ok with letting kids learn the hard way. You can tell them all day not to eat too many sweets but the tummy ache teaches them really fast and doesn’t hurt them long term.

  • Saraquill

    There are times I think I should be an inch or so taller, but my mom was in denial for years about my being sick, and was careless about treatment for years after. One such symptom was a severely reduced appetite. According to her and a doctor I saw, there was nothing wrong with me weighing less at 17 than I did at 12.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    Apparently because washing all those dishes is too much work.

  • frostysnowman

    Off topic – does she always look so exhausted?

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    Yes, her color is always sort of washed out with that draggy exhausted look. Of course anyone would look that tired doing it all alone without help from their husband.

  • smrnda

    As a total control freak, she’s the one with entitlement issues.

  • smrnda

    I’d really like someone to come up with a good distinction between a ‘meal’ and a ‘snack’ or why 3 is some magic number. And there are plenty of ways to eat healthy that don’t require cooking or generate dishes.

  • Polytropos

    Couldn’t agree more. It’s no wonder she’s confused about entitlement, if she thought about what it really is she’d have to take an uncomfortable look in the mirror.

  • Raging Bee

    It’s not rebellion, it’s biology.

    I’m pretty sure there’s lots of people, especially in Christian Reich circles, who think those two are the same thing.

  • Raging Bee

    I just had a swearword-free comment held up in moderation. Not sure why — is “R- e- i- c- h” a trigger-word now?

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    Yep it is. I was told today that over the next week they’ll edit that list. The list does not every make any sort of freaking sense at all. Normal words like game, bag and link are restricted too. I am ready to throw Patheos server out of the window

  • Jennny

    Before I had my children, I once asked some children what they wanted Santa to bring them. They said big things like bikes etc, but one said, ‘A box of Smarties, not a tube, did you know you can get a whole boxful?’ His mother never allowed sweets or chocolate and he looked so wistful as he said it. It made me think that if I had kids, I wouldn’t make such a small thing – UK Smarties are small and pretty inocuous – into such a big deal that they became ‘forbidden fruit,’ something to be yearned for like this child was doing. When my kids came along, we used to joke we didn’t have a medicine cabinet in our home, we had a tube of Smarties. Two of them cured, well, most things we found, all of life’s minor injuries and small pains and disappointments – as well as allowing them as treats – what’s wrong with treats, Zsu? Guess you don’t allow any fun or frivolity in your bubble.

  • Jennny

    I read here Zsu says tidy kitchens are godly. Youtube has the BBC documentary which followed the Andersons for a day, and I recall noticing Mrs A’s kitchen was not too tidy and commented it looked a lot like mine, but I bet she claimed the moral high ground at some point, that tidy kitchens were a necessity. The funniest thing about the programme, AFAIR, was the slightly stunned disbelieving tone of the interviewer throughout, I think she could scarcely believe her eyes and ears as she spent time there!

  • Lucy

    According to her and a doctor I saw, there was nothing wrong with me weighing less at 17 than I did at 12.

    I think that was basically true of me. Even if you account for me being overweight at 12 and adjust for that, my doctor said as a teen it was okay (no, ideal) for me to weigh 110 pounds as a teen – this led me to obsessively avoid eating, just to be safe, until I was down to 98 pounds. Which was technically normal weight according to my BMI, but it is clear from later events that I was underweight for my specific body type (dense bones, most likely). The later event in question is I gained a lot of weight at 16, back up to 120 or so (and later to a little over 130, which my body still reads as healthy now), and I found that I had gone from being completely unable to give anything even resembling a fight in an arm-wrestling match against a guy friend of mine, to flooring a body-size punching bag with a single punch and making all the boys do a double-take. And I don’t recall falling into a comic-book vat of toxic waste or getting bit by a radioactive spider. And while I had started doing exercise in earnest, I wasn’t far into that when I threw that punch. And generally girls aren’t known for going through that kind of dramatic strength transition (and heck, many boys would be jealous of that and would love to find they suddenly woke up one day and gained that much strength – even male puberty doesn’t do that on its own, but going from underweight to your body’s normal weight can because such a transition enables your body to hold more muscle with no change except eating more).

    So the most logical explanation for that was that I was back up within the middle end of my body’s healthy weight range, and had been able to even develop the muscle needed to throw that punch and floor that bag. And I am now near the higher end of that and stronger than I ever was as a teen due to getting more into certain exercises again.

    Doctors overlook a lot of factors, sadly. and some might not even be visible (I suspect mine aren’t always so easy to see).

  • Lucy

    It doesn’t if their food is controlled too much, mind you. Kids in that situation decide the tummy ache is worth it.

  • Lucy

    And I’d really like her to explain why a human stomach is so much more magical than the stomach of a shrew, which is an animal that needs to eat every few hours and cannot be deprived of food for more than half a day or it will starve to death. And yes, a shrew is a mammal, and it has a stomach.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    I did notice it was putting non sweary posts in there too. Particularly if you post several times in a short slot of time, or repeat post it kicks it right into the queue.

  • Jennny

    Funny tweet about parenting I saw today.’They told me I would need to feed my baby every 2-3hours at first, they didn’t tell me that’s how it would be for the next 18years.’

  • Mimc

    I can definitely see why. I’ve hear of people throwing away an candy that is left after a week. I would have eaten way less healthily if that were my parents policy. It’s not like candy spoils. It takes months for most of it to lose any flavor.

  • Mimc

    At first I was confused why anyone would want Smarties. But then you said UK Smarties and it all made sense again. US Smarties are terrible.

  • Jennifer

    Where exactly is their house located? It looks almost like a parking lot outside and I thought I saw a kid with a backpack walk by.

  • Jennifer

    Do you recall the name of the documentary?

  • Jennny
  • Jennifer

    Wow, thanks!

  • Jennifer

    Oh geez, he looks like as much of a douche as you’d picture when he preaches.

  • Jennny

    I haven’t watched it again, I’m not that much of a masochist but IIRC, but there is one telling moment that struck me. The interviewer asks a rather scared-looking small Anderson girl if she’s worried about the death threats her family gets and, quick as a flash a brother leans in and says it’s OK, they have a legion of angels surrounding them. Guess little girl knew better than to express an opinion when a MALE was present.

  • lady_black

    Then have the kids wash the dishes. They help make the dishes dirty, they can help with keeping them clean. Also, not aware of any law that says a paper plate can only be used once. Write your name on the bottom or something.

  • lady_black

    I put limits on the amount of Coca-Cola I was buying, because, left to their own devices, the kids would drink nothing else. When it was gone, it was gone, and there would be none until next grocery day, or they could buy it with their own allowances. I also reminded them that there was water and iced tea or lemonade available that were still tasty but less expensive, and I was not going broke buying what is essentially sugar water.
    I kept healthy snacks around, not potato chips. Lots of cookies (you would be amazed at the healthy stuff you can hide in cookies). Fruit. Carrot sticks, etc. And there was always a bowl of cereal if someone wanted it, any time of day.

  • therealcie

    This woman isn’t the only one who believes that “obesity” happens because one doesn’t stick to three small, malnourishing meals and a piece of fruit. There are doctors that believe this and use this belief to practice lazy medicine and deny proper medical care to larger people. Everything is blamed on the number on the scale, and weight loss is the cure for everything, even though dieting only works long-term in about five percent of the population. If one is presented with a patient who has a very large body type, one can be sure that this patient has dieted far more than once.
    Further, a patient’s large body is not an indication that they are gorging themselves. A lot of heavy people are food insecure.
    I would like to see the word “obesity” stricken from the lexicon. It is a word used to blame and shame larger people and deny them proper treatment.

  • Jennifer

    Oh my God..he’s actually worse than several people in the Westboro church. They actually allow people to attend one of their sermons if they think whoever’s asking is not a threat (or they used to, before Fred died and several things changed). But Steve wouldn’t even allow that. He roots for their deaths and the church members laugh about it. I’m actually shocked.

    It’s kind of funny he thinks his sermons are so special, bc they’re not. Many preachers are un-censored, and there’s a difference between that and being blatantly hateful. But even the latter isn’t new. Hasn’t he heard of the Phelps church? I wonder if they’ve ever communicated.

  • Astrin Ymris

    Or she could be in the early stages of argyria. She drinks colloidal silver during every pregnancy to self- treat her hyperemesis gravidarum. Hopefully, she’s just buying expensive tap water, and she’ll never turn gray. Or worse, give argyria to a child in utero.

  • Astrin Ymris

    To be fair, a century ago it was pretty normative for people to get almost all of their calories from meals, and not eat between them. Middle-class kids might get an after school snack of bread and butter, but that was it. The idea that a constant flow of snacks are “needed” was created by food company advertising, in a bid to sell more processed food and get more money. I hate to agree even partially and conditionally with Zsu, but there it is.

    Mind you, under that system people were expected to eat very large meals, so much so that they seem gargantuan by today’s standards. Did anyone else read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book ‘Farmer Boy’? So the question is: Is Zsu setting her kids free to eat as much as they want during meals, or is she also limiting them to what she thinks they “need”? Given Zsu’s controlling tendencies, I’m afraid it’s probably the latter.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    The amount of sheer work it took just to run a family farm made those huge meals necessary. I was upset when I first got to Costa Rica by the farm family we stayed with serving huge carb heavy meals because I cannot eat that way and stay healthy. I finally figured out that they were eating the traditional way that farm families around the world eat. Made all the difference knowing the why. Started keeping canned tuna with a small amount of fruits and veggies in our room for those times when the meal was all starches.

  • Astrin Ymris

    Yeah, farmers will burn the calories off like crazy. It’s when Americans moved to the cities and took sedentary office jobs that the large rural “dinner” evolved into the much smaller “lunch”.

    I started watching Zsu’s video, but I tapped out about 7 minutes in. Does she at least let the kids free feed at meal times, or does she plate their food and forbid seconds?

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    She never addresses if she decides on serving size or if there are seconds.