Mumsnetters aren't necessarily qualified to help if your child is unwell. If you have any serious medical concerns, we would urge you to consult your GP.

DD is overweight

(94 Posts)
howtoapproachmydd Sun 23-Jun-13 11:57:52

Can anyone help? 16 year old DD is gorgeous - really beautiful face - but she is overweight.

She was a normal-sized child and in the early part of her adolescence fine - normal BMI, although she's always edged towards the higher end of 'normal' but she's slammed on weight this year (GCSEs) and it's making her unhappy. My mum used to go on at me about my weight so I deliberately haven't mentioned it to DD, although I have supported her in other ways like signing her up for a posh gym.

We don't have cakes or biscuits or crisps in the house but I know she eats copious amounts when she's out with her friends, and goes to places like Macdonalds and KFC which all teenagers do. Yesterday for instance she had:

banana and grapes at breakfast (she doesn't really like breakfast so we've compromised on fruit) cup of tea with s-skimmed milk and one candrel tablet.

She went shopping and to the cinema with her mates in the afternoon and she had a pizza at Pizza Hut for lunch and a packet of crisps on the way back.

Then she had macaroni cheese and a yoghurt for tea. Cup of tea and apple before bed.

She is such a lovely, lovely girl - so cheerful and polite but she's a reader and doesn't enjoy exercise at all, never has. She will come for walks with me but that's it: doesn't like the gym, swimming or dancing. I don't want to go on at her but at the same time she is moving from a chubby but pretty girl to a girl who is properly 'fat' if you see what I mean and I am worried that it will get just too difficult to do anything about it if I leave it any longer.

Please help! I don't know what to do for the best!

HeySoulSister Sun 23-Jun-13 12:00:24

Does she not go to the gym you signed her up for?

Did she request that?

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Sun 23-Jun-13 12:01:09

Tha'ts not a lot of food but it's all processed. She needs helping as far as what to eat goes. Canderel is the stuff of the devil in terms of chemicals. She'd be better having a spoon of brown sugar.

Can she not stomach toast or eggs or porrige in the morning?

ladyMaryQuiteContrary Sun 23-Jun-13 12:01:54

Ditch the cheese, it's full of fat. Has she tried other sports, such as pilates or yoga? They are rather cool at the moment and will help to tone and give her a pippa middleton arse (good selling point wink). There's nothing wrong with a pizza or a KFC, just not every day. You need to show her that she can eat healthily and still have treats. I wouldn't encourage her to diet though, she doesn't need to. She just needs to eat a little healthier and find an exercise that she enjoys.

HeySoulSister Sun 23-Jun-13 12:04:14

Nothing wrong with eating cheese or fat for that matter!

Does she actually want to lose weight op?

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Sun 23-Jun-13 12:05:30

And Op can I ask what sort of foods you eat?

soverylucky Sun 23-Jun-13 12:07:08

I wish when I was 16 someone had told me that I was fat - the older you are the harder to shift. My problem was lack of exercise and eating rubbish. Could you go to the gym with her?

WhoNickedMyName Sun 23-Jun-13 12:08:44

I'd say she's probably eating a lot more than you think, or than she's telling you, because if what you described is a typical day then she shouldn't really be getting fat.

The only diet I've ever seen work, long term (and by that I mean keeping the weight off for years, not six months) is slimming world. Maybe get some of the recipes online and start using them for breakfast and evening meals.

It's a difficult one really because she's at the age where it's up to her to do something about her weight if she's not happy about it.

howtoapproachmydd Sun 23-Jun-13 12:10:10

Neo - I try to eat healthily blush I do struggle with food and weight though, largely because I had such a difficult time with it as a kid myself (mother would take food away from me in the middle of eating it) and it's taken a lot to get out of the starve/stuff myself mentality. I manage mostly now but I do have the odd 'blip.'

I take your point about the cheese - we don't have it every day though, just a Saturday treat as the DSs love it.

Strangely she loathes sugar in tea although she likes it elsewhere. She really doesn't like food in the mornings, it's been difficult just getting her to have fruit.

She did request the gym, yes. We were talking about exercise and PE (she doesn't like PE!) and she said she enjoyed it on the odd occasion they got to go in the gym. I asked if she'd like to join a gym and she said she'd love it so I signed her up for a year's membership and she's been about three times! Serves me right for listening to a teenager ...! I do try not to nag.

I think she's about 2/3 stone overweight blush

howtoapproachmydd Sun 23-Jun-13 12:11:23

WhoNicked - do you think? confused A pizza AND macaroni cheese, plus crisps seems quite a lot to me (also she'll have had a drink of Coke or something at lunch.)

TidyDancer Sun 23-Jun-13 12:11:59

I wish someone had tried to help me when I was 16. Maybe then I wouldn't have ended up as a 19stone adult. That's nearly 270 pounds for anyone who thinks in those terms! I have lost the weight now but fuck me I was miserable for a long time.

Has your DD mentioned anything about her weight? Or is it one of those unspoken issues that you both recognise, but no one talks about?

gaggiagirl Sun 23-Jun-13 12:12:26

What's her bmi? She sounds like me when I was her age so she must be awesome!

Carb-tastic. Is she vegetarian? She needs more good quality protein and good fats to keep her feeling full.
Milkshake would be better than just fruit at breakfast. Or maybe add yogurt. Just fruit will lead to a sugar low mid-morning, and I expect she is buying chocolate bars to get through to lunch.

Sugar and processed carbs are the enemy here. Exercise will make barely any difference if she can't reduce these.

Sirzy Sun 23-Jun-13 12:15:50

I think at 16 she is old enough to sit down and talk to sensibly about it. Not to nag but just to say you are worried and if she wants you will help her, encourage her to use the gym or whatever other activity she is willing to commit to. Does the gym have any classes she may enjoy?

is it possible for you to exercise together? so you can encourage each other?

WorraLiberty Sun 23-Jun-13 12:16:46

I think this is the danger of making weight a taboo subject in families.

Whether a child is at the higher end of BMI or not, it can still be obvious just by using your eyes and honesty, that they need to lose weight or tone up.

I can understand why you didn't want to mention it sooner OP, but it seems hardly anyone wants to talk about the elephant in the room until it's too late.

I'm not sure if it's too late or not, but any determination to lose weight has to come from her now.

All you can do is make sure she eats healthily at home and encourage/support her if she decides she wants to lose weight.

howtoapproachmydd Sun 23-Jun-13 12:18:10

Gaggia - she is awesome! grin Absolutely lovely girl, I don't know how the hell she got so talented or pretty or funny from my genes!

However, yes, she's big and getting bigger sad and I don't want it to change her and I wouldn't care (apart from a health point of view) if she didn't care, but yes, she does. She said yesterday that she wished she was a size 10 so she could buy nice clothes and she hates having her picture taken as well because she says she looks fat. She's also been fussing about our holiday as she doesn't want to wear a bikini or any other bathing suit so she's self conscious.

I don't want to say "yes, you are fat kiddo, now lose it!" as it's not helpful but at the same time I don't want to ignore it completely.

FredFredGeorge Sun 23-Jun-13 12:19:31

When you sleep, hormones are released which suppress appetite, some people take longer for these to disappear than others, and those people probably shouldn't be eating breakfast, especially a sort of "compromise" breakfast that is pure carbs. Of course the problem with this is you need to be able to eat when the hormones have subsided - which can be quite difficult around school or jobs. So I wouldn't push the breakfast thing, to my mind pushing someone to eat when not hungry is not supporting them in a healthy diet.

Exercise, no matter what, is the real thing that will help, many of the reasons for over-eating is very readily addressed by being fitter. Exercise massively improves the bodies ability to regulate blood sugar. So I think you're right to push for that, you just need to find something that will work. Avoiding it being "exercise" may well be the best, any "active" activities she might be in too?

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Sun 23-Jun-13 12:19:34

What sort of food do you eat OP? Is it healthy? can you start cooking with DD as a sort of way of spending time with her and educating her at the same time?

peachypips Sun 23-Jun-13 12:21:40

Well done for being a great mum in facing up to not only your daughter's prob with food but your own responsibility. It is so hard to talk about this subject as you are worried about getting slammed for acknowledging your daughter is overweight from both sides of the fence. Good for you.
It sounds like (if you don't mind me saying) you both need to do something together? How about Slimming World together and a walk together every early evening?
It would help both of your health, bond you together and re-educate you.

IrisScentedCandle Sun 23-Jun-13 12:22:44

I think she's already given you her permission to take her in hand. Say to her 'would you like to think about joining ww with me?' that is not cruel or hurtful.

HeySoulSister Sun 23-Jun-13 12:23:56

So a joint project? Approach her from the angle you both need to do something for your hol? When is it?

Personally, me and my overweight 16 year old low carb. I run and dd has seen me drop almost 3 dress sizes in 6 months.... So I know I'm inspiring her. She's learning and seeing my results so knows its doable.... But I have to wait now for her to get pro active and do it!

marriedinwhiteagain Sun 23-Jun-13 12:24:38

Why don't you say I need to lose some weight dd and it's making me unhappy. I think you need some help to get into that 10/12 too. Let's jin weightwatchers or slimming world and do it together.

WorraLiberty Sun 23-Jun-13 12:24:47

How about if you came at it from a health angle?

Is she aware that she's possibly increasing her risk of getting diabetes, heart disease, cancer, infertility?

Obviously I don't mean just hit her with a list, but to gently add that into your conversations.

If she was puffing on 20 fags a day, I'm sure you'd spell out the dangers of that too.

peachypips Sun 23-Jun-13 12:24:49

And I agree- it's almost like we are not allowed to confront the 'fat' issue nowadays as we will damage self-esteem. However, it is a problem that needs sorting!

RichManPoorManBeggarmanThief Sun 23-Jun-13 12:25:56

I actually disagree that thats not a lot of food. Pizza hut pizza could easily top 1000 calories. Macaroni cheese could be 600. The rest totals 500. If she's very inactive then she could only need around 1,700 cals per day, so at that rate she's gaining a pound every 10 days. That's how people get fat- it's the drip drip drip of the few hundred calories a day.

However, re teenagers and food it's tricky- I was a a complete junk monster from around that age (first taste of financial freedom- Saturday job) to around 25 when I straightened out. I think you need to make the home meal super healthy to compensate for what she eats outside the home.

CaurnieBred Sun 23-Jun-13 12:27:02

Another thing to look at is portion control - I have bought smaller plates as our usual dinner plates are huge and a "normal" portion on them looks ridiculous.

howtoapproachmydd Sun 23-Jun-13 12:28:57

Yes, I could try that. The trouble is, I have to confess I am not wonderful at sticking to WW/SW myself (mind you it might encourage her competitive side if she loses more than me?)

I don't think her breakfasts are the problem, really. I think it's a combination of her lack of physical activity - she reads a lot and also does the normal teenage stuff of Facebook, etc. - and also there's an element of 'denial' so for example she won't buy diet Coke, she'll buy Coke, to make it look as if she doesn't care, if that makes sense.

We do go to a Boxercise class together but I'm not convinced DD puts a huge amount of effort in! grin

My mum discovered I had eaten some chocolate when I was 13, and (I'm not kidding) dragged me to a gym by my HAIR, it was awful.

Right. So, WW or SW - any recommendations? Also have two DSs aged 14 and 12 who are like whippets but eat truckloads of food! I'm taking DD out next week to have highlights done as well, hope this will help give her a lift appearance-wise.

WorraLiberty Sun 23-Jun-13 12:30:28

And I agree- it's almost like we are not allowed to confront the 'fat' issue nowadays as we will damage self-esteem. However, it is a problem that needs sorting!

Yes I think we're letting our kids down really, and setting them up for a whole lifetime of self esteem issues.

Gaining/losing weight is a natural part of life...something that happens to all of us.

Hopefully in years to come, the whole subject will no longer be taboo...just like discussing sex is no longer taboo but years ago it was.

howtoapproachmydd Sun 23-Jun-13 12:31:45

Worra - good point. Cripes, feel really guilty now blush

That was my thinking as well re the food, eating out. I like the idea of low carbing; any suggestions that won't lead to cries of protests from DH/DSs (although the former needs to lose more weight than me and DD put together!)

Mintyy Sun 23-Jun-13 12:32:36

Oh please please don't put her on a formal diet.

She needs to find something good to do to replace her comfort/binge eating. She probably needs another hobby to get engrossed in, something to do to replace the wandering around town scarfing junk food. How about zumba, or some other kind of dance class, amateur dramatics, tennis, badminton, cycling? Anything that will keep her occupied and she can grow to love.

Also, if you serve up her food, simply start giving her smaller portions, especially of carbohydrates.

Encourage her to give up the sweetener in her hot drinks - they set up a sugar craving, in much the same way as normal sugar does.

sweetsummerlove Sun 23-Jun-13 12:32:43

touchy subject: IF she wants help she needs to ditch the processed foods and sweeteners (awful) educate yourselves on the benefits of eating clean and. perhaps get her to a nutritionalist x

HeySoulSister Sun 23-Jun-13 12:34:09

I find low carb eating better than all that counting points! And you don't pay class fee's.... Also, importantly, she is likely to lose a biggish chunk straight off which might motivate her?

biwi threads here on mn are excellent

My older teen joined me on c25k programme.... Again, threads are here on mn for support

WorraLiberty Sun 23-Jun-13 12:34:39

You shouldn't feel guilty OP, and it wasn't my intention to make you feel that way.

I should have made it clear that this is a societal issue more than anything.

No-one wants to tackle their child's weight for fear of upsetting them/causing issues with self esteem.

But if we as a society made that conversation totally normal, it would be much easier all round imo.

HeySoulSister Sun 23-Jun-13 12:35:23

Low carb eating or paleo clean eating really really work

howtoapproachmydd Sun 23-Jun-13 12:37:42

Mintyy - the problem is, she REALLY doesn't like any physical activity. She never has. I don't want to call her lazy as it's a foul word and besides she isn't, she is very hard-working, but she does dislike exercise. She will do some stuff for the social aspect but she puts minimum effort in and finds classes dull.

It is difficult knowing what to do for the best. Since she IS hard-working, she WILL exercise if it means she loses weight, but she won't enjoy it and so she would only be doing it with a specific purpose in mind.

howtoapproachmydd Sun 23-Jun-13 12:39:17

Oh no, don't worry Worra, it was what you said about the fags that made me realise that yes, I absolutely would take her to task over the fags but have avoided with this issue due to worries about impacting on her self esteem. But she isn't stupid and must know herself she's bursting out of size 16s.

Sirzy Sun 23-Jun-13 12:39:46

I started putting weight on at a similar age (injury/illness started the no exercise slippery slope and I stayed on it)

I have 'tried' to diet so many times in the last 10 years or so but never been in the right frame of mind to REALLY want it, more a case of doing it because I felt I should IYSWIM.

It was only when about 6 weeks ago I realised that I was just under 16 stone (and at only 5ft 1 that is way to much) that I found myself in an I WILL mindset. Through sensible eating and changing eating habits (brown bread not white, veg with each meal, water not pop etc) and exercise (30-60 minutes a day) I have lost 18lb in 6 weeks and strangely for the first time in a long time I am enjoying eating not just doing it because I have to.

Sirzy Sun 23-Jun-13 12:41:14

how to - do you have a wii or anything? Would she enjoy doing wii fit type things more than going to a gym? I hate exercise generally but that is working well for me. I have also been walking a lot more and next week I am braving going swimming again as the determination is making me want to exercise more.

howtoapproachmydd Sun 23-Jun-13 12:41:25

Sirzy you must look and feel amazing, well done! grin

Wolfiefan Sun 23-Jun-13 12:42:24

I hated all exercise as a teen but that was because I was fat and self conscious. I think Pizza Hut followed by crisps and then mac cheese is a heck of a lot of food. Coke is terrible. It's milk or water here.
I wouldn't go down the route of doing a diet. I'd just think about getting her to eat a healthier diet overall. She does need to get active anf find exercise she will do. She could reward herself for losing weight and getting fit.

Wolfiefan Sun 23-Jun-13 12:43:42

X post.
Go Sirzy! I have been steadily putting weight on for years. 18 months and 5 stone down I'm maintaining that weight. Ought to lose a bit more but in no hurry!

howtoapproachmydd Sun 23-Jun-13 12:43:51

She hates the WII; honestly, she really finds exercise dull. She has plenty of hobbies but they all centre around sitting on the couch! She:

plays the flute and the violin to a very high standard
chats to her mates on Facebook grin

She's a hard working girl - should be getting mostly A*s/As at GCSE, and she WILL work at weight loss but she won't enjoy the exercise so I won't be able to 'trick' her into doing some in the hope she'd enjoy it, as she won't.

WhatEverItIsIDidntDoIt Sun 23-Jun-13 12:45:03

Does the gym do classes? I absolutely hate going to the gym and being left to my own devises, I get really self conscious and think people are watching me. But my gym does 45 minute cardio and weight classes that I love and it had been really successful with my weight loss. Could you suggest she tries one or maybe do one with her?

snooter Sun 23-Jun-13 12:45:27

It's often portion sizes being too big rather than the actual components of the diet. Even fruit & veg contains calories which I think some people forget - certainly heard of slimming groups who tell clients to eats "as much F & V as you want" & have seen people at work literally filling mixing bowls with chopped salad & eating it all.

At the end of the day, no matter what or how much she's eating, she's eating more than she is burning up because she's getting fatter. If she's upset about photographs & clothes then she hopefully she ought to be receptive to a bit of advice. Smaller portions rather than banning any foods & more exercise is the way forward, & watch calories in soft drinks & fruit juice.

NatashaBee Sun 23-Jun-13 12:46:27

I agree, the 'joint project' approach is the best one. I think she needs to focus on low GI eating - slimming world is quite good in that respect, the carbs in their plan are mostly whole meal bread and so on. She sounds similar to me in that I feel I need to eat carbs (pizza, bread, crisps), then my blood sugar drops and I need to eat more! I find that eating low GI really helps that.

tumbletumble Sun 23-Jun-13 12:48:31

I agree with Mintyy, I would steer clear of formal diets at this age as I think when you get on the lose / gain cycle it's hard to get off. I'd do it by reducing (halving?) portion size (esp carbs) at her evening meal and not having junk food around for her to snack on.

It's ok for her to go out for a pizza on Saturday if she is eating healthily during the week. What does she eat on a typical school day?

snooter Sun 23-Jun-13 12:51:26

There probably will be a form of exercise that she likes, she just hasn't found it yet! Perhaps she's self-conscious about her weight too. If she'll go for walks with you then could make more of those - go further, climb a hill, step out so you're moving faster. She could try a pedometer & set herself targets.

howtoapproachmydd Sun 23-Jun-13 12:51:53

She doesn't like exercise at all.

She has finished school now so I think there is a lot of grazing. I leave her soup (home-made) and there is always fruit but she'll make toast or have two bowls of cereal. She also will buy Coke and crisps from the shop. She'll then have whatever I've made for tea followed by a yoghurt or fruit, sometimes a banana before bed.

Chandon Sun 23-Jun-13 12:52:11

I think diets are a big bad idea. Eatingless junk, fine. But cutting out or reducing carbs...

The key is getting active. It is not even the case that you burn lots of cals doing exercise, but you raise your metabolism .

You would not let your dog go without a walk ( or two) all day, would you? All creatures need DAILY exercise, it can be walking or cycling into town, it does not have to be the gym.

Low carbing....maybe for those who cannot physically move and burn it off.

But it is amazing how well you can eat ( including pizza and crisps) if you get active.

Romann Sun 23-Jun-13 12:54:51

OP, have a look at the book Fat Chance and maybe get her to read it. It sets out why sugar makes you fat and unhealthy, and problems with the food industry and government policy around it. It's quite interesting and also gives ideas for how to help yourself and your children (the author is a doctor who works with children specifically).

His basic thesis, very simplified, is that the policy of telling everyone to eat low fat has made the obesity epidemic worse, as it has made manufacturers load everything with sugar to compensate for the taste deficit when you take the fat out. He says that the best place to start with your family is to stop them from drinking any soft drinks or juice at all - only make water and milk available. Buy no processed foods, and no refined carbohydrates at all. Only prepare meat/fish/eggs/veg/whole grains for meals. He says that exercise is very good for you and you should definitely do it, but it doesn't make you lose weight unless you're really in training for a marathon or something. I suspect this is true.

It sounds like you have the kind of relationship where you can talk to her about it, and I do think you should. It's a health issue, and likely to become a social issue for her too. It also sounds like you, your dh and she could all act on it together so she wouldn't be being picked on.

Eating out with her friends is a difficult one, but perhaps she could agree at least to skip the coke and crisps but have the pizza?

Lancelottie Sun 23-Jun-13 12:59:56

OK, your DD is older than my girl, but idle-but-hardworking DD reluctantly accepted that actually, you'd exercise a dog, so you should probably treat yourself at least as well as a beloved pet.

When nagging, we tend to go down the line of 'better get some exercise for the sake of muscles/stamina/better sleep/bone strength', all of which is true.

She is Ok with:
pedometer (as above) -- do your 'prescribed' 10000 steps a day
swimming (though do need to avoid the cafe afterwards)
schlepping round town

tiptapkeyboard Sun 23-Jun-13 13:00:17

I think a lot of people don't particularly enjoy the gym/classes etc but do it because they can then wear that size 12 dress instead of the sixe 16 one.

HeySoulSister Sun 23-Jun-13 13:00:20

Low carb is just that.... Low, not 'no'

And it sounds like she is addicted to sugar.... Refined carbs, pizza,toast,cereal..... All high sugar . It doesn't have to be sweets/choc/cake to be a sugar addiction

Lancelottie Sun 23-Jun-13 13:00:44

Cross posts about the dog walking!

howtoapproachmydd Sun 23-Jun-13 13:06:52

Tiptap - have you read my posts? That's exactly what I've been saying about DD. She WILL do it but only if it helps her lose weight. She won't do it because we just happen to stumble on something she enjoys - she won't, believe me, I have been her mother for 16 years!

QueenCadbury Sun 23-Jun-13 13:13:42

How about doing something together like signing up for a 5k race later on in the summer and doing the training together? The challenge of that may get her going? It's a good short term achievable gol to aim for. The hope would be that she gets fit, loses weight and starts to enjoy it that she carries on.

I hated exercise until my late 20s and suddenly started running and swimming and now love it. I go a bit mad now if I don't get regular exercise. Emphasise the health benefits of exercise to her rather than just the weight loss benefits.

Do her friends do any exercise? Is there anything with them that she can join in with?

I agree about now putting her on a diet as such but instead looking at things like portion control and teaching her about hidden calories. Again, emphasise the health benefits of a healthy diet that her skin will be better etc.

Good luck.

melliebobs Sun 23-Jun-13 13:16:55

How about exercise that she doesn't get to do at school? She might fin something she loves and never knew?

How about boxing/boxercise?
Roller derby
See If there's a run challenge in your are (it's basically orienteering but with a quiz attached to it about the points you go to. It could be something you do together)
Maybe the classes at her gym?

Ring ur council, they'll have a sport development team and they'll e able to tell you what's going on that's a bit different

tiptapkeyboard Sun 23-Jun-13 13:20:59

OP yes I totally get them honest, I was agreeing with you smile Maybe she needs to consider how much she wants to be able to wear those size 10 clothes she spoke about.

The thing about exercise as well is the more you do it you sort of get addicted to it - endorphins or something!

If she wants help I would go to the gym with her 2x a week plus boxercise for say a month. Will be really hard to keep that up BUT - she might see the huge benefits of it and get hooked.

MerryOnMerlot Sun 23-Jun-13 13:22:53

Agree with others who have pointed out the high carb & sugar content of her diet.

Romann - that recommendation sounds great. Sugar & overly refined/processed food is the reason why obesity is such a major problem nowadays.

Exercise just isn't going to cut it here OP, especially with her reluctance to do it. Apart from being best for weight loss and curing addiction to sugar, low carb diets also dramatically reduce your appetite after about a week or so.

Cauliflower or sweet potato mash along with protein and green veg makes meals feel much more "normal". I've even come across a "pizza" recipe where the base is made of equal quantities of grated cauliflower and mozzarela (which my kids adore) so with a bit of research you can get very creative!

Punkatheart Sun 23-Jun-13 13:30:53

Firstly - you sound like a fantastic mum. You are being sensitive but also worrying about her health. My daughter is also a junk food monster and although not overweight, she is lacking in energy and makes herself unhappy with all the stuff she eats. It is hard - there seems to be a teenage 'thing' that they eat like this - high in fats and processed foods which give a great 'high' but don't help them at all.

So I understand fully but I think getting her involved in cooking, promoting lots of active stuff like walking etc is the only thing you can do. I ask my daughter to choose a fruit she has never tried and I do what I did when she was very small and I sneak in veg! Dance videos are good and fun.

It's never easy is it - but I wish you two luck. Whatever happens, she has a lovely mum.

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Sun 23-Jun-13 13:30:54


This isn't really an AIBU so we've moved it to Children's Health now. best of luck to the OP and her DD.

zoraqueenofzeep Sun 23-Jun-13 13:40:03

A bit of honesty won't harm her, saving her feelings today will only leave her with much more weight to lose ten years from now and a lot of damage to her self esteem and health. Tell her she's gained excessive weight and needs to cut out the junk food before it's too late. She needs to find activities that don't revolve around eating crap and get off her arse and start moving otherwise she will get very fat. Be blunt.

There's this fear that if you mention weight gain your going to magically push them into anorexia, that's bollox, many people allow their kids to get obese rather than educating them about basic nutrition and exercise but it's those who are too ignorant to know how to be healthily slender that get eating disorders, the fat kids have eating disorders too, that's why they're fat.

Frenchvanilla Sun 23-Jun-13 13:42:31

Sounds incredibly tricky.

I don't know what you do now but I would start by getting rid of all treaty things in the home, and cooking a simple, homemade healthy meal for the evening for her.

Is there a sport that you can both do together? I'm thinking yoga on a weekday evening and then a long family walk on the weekend?

How about signing up to learn a sport together? Something like skiing or rock climbing?

Lots of conversations about healthy eating- you can't control what she eats outside of the home any more, but talking about eating healthily and making good choices will help her to do this when she's by herself.

You sound like you're approaching it sensitively, so well done.

chocoluvva Sun 23-Jun-13 13:48:49

Junk food has SUCH a lot to answer for. I'm sure it's the reason for the increased levels of obesity.

Coffee shop 'fancy' coffees and a muffin can have several hundred calories in them eg and won't leave you feeling full.

If she feels she's made the discovery for herself, eg by reading the book recommended perhaps she'd avoid them more.

Low-carbing and/or eating protein at every meal will help you to feel full, but most people don't eat crisps and chocolate because they're hungry. They eat them because they're bored, or tempted by adverts.
I don't really know what the answer for her is. Providing really healthy, nutritious meals and not having breakfast cereal in the house should help a bit, as the more fruit and salady things you eat, the less easily tempted you are by things like crisps and chocolate. This is a good time of year for delicious berries and pineapples. Soon peaches, nectarines and melons will be in season.

If she could acquire a taste for fruit/herbal teas that might help.

I sympathise - (my DD, who's the same age is a bit chubby - which concerns me too) - very difficult and the best method of losing weight varies from person to person.

Would it be practical to 'kick-start' things by having a walking holiday or something like that? If she sees some weight coming off, she's likely to be motivated to continue.

Punkatheart Sun 23-Jun-13 14:07:14

I'm afraid I totally disagree zora. That could do enormous damage, as any child psychologist will tell you. I was at a psychologist's office the other day (my daughter has some anxiety/depression) issues) and I was talking to a psychologist who was removing all the awful Heat-style magazines that focus obsessively on women's bodies.

There are ways and means of educating a child about healthy eating. Telling them they are fat in such a blunt way is not going to helpful and shows no sensitivity whatsoever. And yes, it can lead to eating problems. If the person who cares for you, thinks you are fat, or ugly, or unpleasant - how do you think that will work on their psyche?

I talk about healthy eating with my daughter but I would never - have never - told her she is overweight. or any negative comment about her body.

PiratePanda Sun 23-Jun-13 14:21:11

Re exercise -- she doesn't need to do anything special, just walk her 10,000 steps a day. Perhaps get her a pedometer?

Research has recently found that sweet fizzy drinks are the absolute worst thing you can put in your body re weight gain, and artificial sweeteners make you feel hungrier than sugar so no help. Even if it's only a first step, she should be giving up softdrinks NOW.

D0oinMeCleanin Sun 23-Jun-13 14:45:19

I would start looking at small changes she could make that don't feel like a 'diet' in fact I would stop 'dieting' all together, most diets fail for a reason. They are often unsustainable and make you feel deprived, plus you are more likely to treat yourself for 'being good'. If your dd wants to lose weight and keep it off, then she's going to need to make changes that she can stick to for life and who would want to be on a diet forever?

Definitely cut the fizzy drinks and sweeteners out, they are the work of the devil according to my very qualified, very successful weightloss coach. They do make you hungrier. Change to water and/or herbal teas. Lots of water. Get her to carry a bottle of water everywhere. Even if that is the only change she makes it will make a huge difference.

I wouldn't do full on low carb, it's soul destroying, but I would balance carbs a bit more, so for example if she has a carb-high lunch, have no carbs at dinner (I like chicken and veg stir fries minus the noodles on these days or roasted root veg eg. parsnips, sweet potato, carrots, and philly stuffed chicken fillet wrapped in bacon)

When her friends all go to maccyds or KFC she is unlikely to want to miss out but would she make changes there, such as buying a mini fillet burger and small fries instead of a full meal and have water instead of soda? And then have a healthy, light dinner on those days to balance out the fat, carbs, cals for the day.

Limit processed foods to once a week. Eat fresh, real food. Nothing low fat or low sugar, they're often packed with aspartame and other nasties that actually help cause obesity rather than cure it.

I hate breakfast too but do find it helps. Would she be able to stomach a smoothie or meal replacement shake? I can manage those.

And yy to the walking/pedometer. Exercise alone will not help, but it will boost weightloss along with a healthy, clean diet.

Sirzy Sun 23-Jun-13 14:50:57

Sugar coating things and not being honest isn't going to do her any good in the long run, from what the op has said she knows she is overweight, she isn't happy so of course her mum needs to sit down and talk to her about it and help her take control.

NatashaBee Sun 23-Jun-13 14:57:55

Can you limit the amount of money she has in cash? Maybe pay her pocket money into a bank account so she doesn't always have money in her pocket?

NatashaBee Sun 23-Jun-13 14:58:33

Posted too soon - meant to say it would make it a little more difficult for her to buy unhealthy snacks.

LoveSewingBee Sun 23-Jun-13 15:07:14

I agree with others, your dd seems to have two problems:
1. Unhealthy, high fat, high carb food & drinks
2. Too little exercise

She is old enough to understand this and to understand the consequences.

You could help by only serving healthy food at home, including lots of fresh veg and fruit and put a strict limit on processed food.

I would sitdown with her and have an open and honest discussion about her concerns and your concerns.

I would be quite annoyed if dd was to ask for a gym membership and then only use it sporadically. Maybe she needs a bit of tough love ...

Lots of people rather sit in front of the TV rather than exercise. That is why there are so many fat people. Ultimately it is a matter of priorities and self-discipline.

MarshaBrady Sun 23-Jun-13 15:14:35

Talk about what a better diet would look like, your dd's is too carb /sugar and processed food heavy.

You don't have to shield children from the idea of healthy eating.

Or from promoting a healthier view of exercise. What about something like tennis? More fun than the gym as a teen.

Megsdaughter Sun 23-Jun-13 15:38:59

Would she use one of the phone app calories counters ? (more inline with a teenage thing, being on a phone?)

I use my fitness pal and find it easy to follow ad keep to.

tumbletumble Sun 23-Jun-13 16:55:20

Zora, your post assumes that the reason the OP's DD is overweight is a matter of ignorance - she hasn't realised that she is overweight, and/or she doesn't know what to do to solve the problem - so it is a simple matter of educating her.

Unfortunately the psychology of weight loss is a lot more complicated than that. I'm sure you know lots of people who know they are fat and try really hard to lose weight but struggle to succeed.

I'm not saying the OP should do nothing - not at all. A sensitive discussion acknowledging the issue and trying to come up with a plan of action together is one thing. Your suggestion of 'being blunt' is the bit I have a problem with.

OP, your DD sounds like a sensible girl and is old enough to decide for herself. Why not discuss the different suggestions with her and see what she thinks?

ClockWatchingLady Sun 23-Jun-13 20:10:00

OP, I just wanted to echo what others have said about this being a really tricky issue, and about it sounding like you're doing a great, thoughtful, caring job in trying to deal with it. Your DD sounds fab.

Zora - I just can't let this pass without comment: "it's those who are too ignorant to know how to be healthily slender that get eating disorders"

It just doesn't fit with scientific understanding or clinical experience. Eating disorders are, as a rule, very much not about ignorance and frequently occur in very knowledgeable and intelligent people with very knowledgeable, intelligent parents.

Best of luck, OP plus DD. I think others have said some wise things about carbs, etc.

Above all, for what it's worth, I'd say try not to let this worry you for too much time each day. Your DD sounds great, with so much going for her, and it sounds like she has a great mum, too.

ClockWatchingLady Sun 23-Jun-13 20:10:02

OP, I just wanted to echo what others have said about this being a really tricky issue, and about it sounding like you're doing a great, thoughtful, caring job in trying to deal with it. Your DD sounds fab.

Zora - I just can't let this pass without comment: "it's those who are too ignorant to know how to be healthily slender that get eating disorders"

It just doesn't fit with scientific understanding or clinical experience. Eating disorders are, as a rule, very much not about ignorance and frequently occur in very knowledgeable and intelligent people with very knowledgeable, intelligent parents.

Best of luck, OP plus DD. I think others have said some wise things about carbs, etc.

Above all, for what it's worth, I'd say try not to let this worry you for too much time each day. Your DD sounds great, with so much going for her, and it sounds like she has a great mum, too.

SugarMouse1 Sun 30-Jun-13 14:56:09


Does she like animals? Could you get a dog to encourage her to walk it more?

Get a trampoline at home?

specialsubject Sun 30-Jun-13 15:02:26

it's simple - she is taking in more calories than she burns off. That is a lot of high-calorie food and not a lot of nutrition. It should all be taught at school (is it? Is she listening?) and she needs to realise that she must eat less crap. MuckyDs and Pizza Slut are occasional treats, not regular things.

she needs to eat properly and move around more. Plenty of ways to be active, we'd all rather blob on the sofa but that is how you end up shaped like the sofa.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Sun 30-Jun-13 15:11:17

Two things strike me reading your posts OP.

1 - she ate no vegetables that day, and only 2-3 pieces of fruit.

2 - you say that you are overweight, and also your DH is. That suggests that portion sizes are too big in your house and that she doesn't see exercise as a normal part of daily life.

Anything you say to her is going to fall on deaf ears because she will be thinking 'well it can't be that unhealthy because Mum and Dad are fat and not doing anything about it.'.

You need to set a better example, both of you do.

Lancelottie Mon 01-Jul-13 11:38:19

Mmm, but OP also says she has two whippet-like boys. I similarly have one plump one and two skinny beanpoles damn their unhelpful stringy frames and I can tell you that it's really hard not to make a point of it when one child needs to eat less than the other two.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Mon 01-Jul-13 11:47:04

Lancelottie I know, I was the overweight big sister that didn't like exercise while my two younger brothers that never stopped moving stayed slim and could eat anything.

I wish that my Mum in particular had set me a better example by exercising more herself - she wishes the same.

I am still overweight.

Lancelottie Mon 01-Jul-13 13:16:53

Do you happen to remember whether you were always a bit overweight, Ali, and whether that put you off exercising, or whether it crept up on you the other way round?
Genuinely interested. DD was a great big rolypoly sort of baby and stayed plump so she never had a slim phase even as a wee one. But she's also always been a bit physically awkward -- slow to react, very knock-kneed, wheezy with asthma -- and I'm not sure whether she stayed plump because she was always slow, or vice versa.

(Like Howto's daughter, she's bright, pretty, funny and delightful -- just generously made!)

ragged Mon 01-Jul-13 13:22:35

I wouldn't say a word to her about her weight.
I would try to think of things that would help boost her self esteem in other ways.
And I might well talk about behaviour: like comfort eating. Why we do that, how it stuffs down unpleasant feelings (like boredom even), or can make you feel in control when otherwise overwhelmed. And general life coping skills. When you can figure out something to do about your problems and then it gets done, then you don't need to eat a cookie instead.
As someone who used to have an ED, I know for me that when I sorted out my life coping skills and calmed down to have half-decent self-confidence that the ED took care of itself.

bigTillyMint Mon 01-Jul-13 13:23:13

Lancelottie, I was a normal size up to about 5 or 6, but My DM (overweight) used food as treats and then owing to stuff going on at home, I was comfort eating too and put on weight. However, I was always keen to join in with sports, etc.

Then as a student I was drinking....

It wasn't until I started working that I lost the weight and have remained a normal weight.

UnexpectedItemInShaggingArea Mon 01-Jul-13 13:27:28

I don't want to comment on your DD's eating, I have no particular expertise. What I will say is that physical activity is incredibly important for health and well being, not just weight control / loss. It really isn't an option to be sedentary if you want to live a long and healthy life.

Sedentary behaviour is linked to cancers, diabetes, mental health issues, heart disease, osteoporosis, cognitive decline...

Obviously this is more relevant to older people than 16 year olds, but it's much easier to get into an exercise habit now than at 40.

She needs to find an exercise she enjoys or at least tolerates. If money was no object I'd be tempted to get a personal trainer to drill some hard facts and good habits into her.

Poledra Mon 01-Jul-13 13:45:04

Can I offer a suggestion for exercise? I hate, loathe and abhor the gym. I horse-ride. It doesn't feel like exercise, IYSWIM - it feels going out! OK, I'm a forty-something who has no social life but still...

For someone who takes to it, there are lots of opportunities to get exercise without actually paying for lessons. Someone has to move all that muck, y'know, it doesn't move itself. grin The are a number of teenage girls who hang out at my yard doing chores for free riding time.

becscertainstar Mon 01-Jul-13 14:00:04

howtoapproach you sound like a lovely mum and dealing with this in a kind, compassionate way while being honest about your own issues. I second Ronnans recommendation of Dr Robert Lustig's book - this video of him is good too - especially for explaining the vicious cycle of gaining weight and not wanting to exercise. (The video is part of a series - you can watch them all on youtube if it strikes a nerve) It takes the guilt and stigma out of everything - and your daughters diet is pretty classic. Rather than focussing on reducing what she eats, perhaps focus on the ways in which she's undernourished. Rather than fruit and artificial sweetener in the morning and then fruit at night as well - which will raise her insulin level, would she have a boiled egg or some full fat greek yoghurt? Protein is always good at breakfast - and her diet looks very light on protein, light on fibre, and heavy on refined flour and fat. Something like a boiled egg with wholemeal bread for breakfast, and then for tea she needs protein and fibre again - there isn't much of either in mac cheese and yoghurt - is she vegetarian, someone asked upthread but I can't find your answer? If so then a lentil curry with spinach, or chickpea salad with lots of green crunchy leaves. If not then meat and three or four portions of non-starchy veg.

You're working so hard on this. The key is definitely what YOU do, (rather than what you say about what she should do). Going to Body Combat with her is great - are there any other physical activities you can do as a family - long walks, badminton, sponsored runs (eg training for Race For Life together).

I wish you both well - it's not an easy one to tackle.

Lancelottie Mon 01-Jul-13 14:34:23

Thanks, Tilly. hope you don't mind my asking. I think with DD we've possibly 'accepted' her size a bit too much because that's how she's always been.

I may be out of context here I've only skimmed replies - dies she have a 'smart phone' theressome very goid apps that would help her with diet & excersize. This might not be simething she'd like - but does she like animals - when I put on weight I got back into riding, within 6 months id shed 4 stone, its really great excersize & fun at the same time. Not as expensive as you'd tjink either

AppleHEAD Thu 04-Jul-13 19:18:47

Could you encourage her to cook? After pizza for lunch maybe soup would have been a better tea alternative
Try the website it's got lots of recipes she might like to try.
Maybe explain junk food is ok maybe once a week?
It's so hard I really feel for her and you. Making a stir fry is fun or a salad and if she makes it she might enjoy that to.

ethelb Thu 04-Jul-13 20:01:04

I think you sound like a great mum, however I do think that you need to tread a fine line between helping her and being controlling here. I think you may need to educate yourself a little about nutrition if you are overweight, maybe look at some of the links here. Macaroni cheese is a treat in this house and I am a cheese and carb fiend.

I am surprised by how many people said it wasn't much food, a WHOLE pizza hut pizza is going to be over 1000 calories. A bottle of coke 300. A packet of crisps 150ish. The fruit 200ish. And the macaronic cheese? Even a sensible portion is going to be over 500. That's a couple hundred over what she should be aiming for which is 1lb every two weeks or so.

I understand being a 'reader' who doesn't like exercise and hate how constructed and fake it feels tbh. I prefer long walks in nice areas or cycling myself rather than bumping along with a load of gym bunnies in a class.

That said I find weights, yoga and martial arts fun, has she tried those? If she is clever then she may want something other than weight loss to focus on as a goal, and those three all offer that if you want them too.

I would encourage her to educate herself about health and nutrition. When I was her age and a bit older, I really liked reading Zest magazine and Women's Health for some sensible thinspo. Would make me run out to buy some almonds and strawberries!

Weightloss Resource has good nutritional info as do Weight Watchers if you want to go down that route (you can do weight watchers exclusively online if you don't want to go to classes) and Myfitnesspal has good forums if you want something free.

If she is clever, getting her understanding of the science of nutrition down to an art form may help?

brettgirl2 Fri 05-Jul-13 11:12:28

I was overweight as a teenager and lost 2 stone at the age of 21 partly by switching to diet coke. imo the gym thing is a misnomer because you have to find activity you actually enjoy. Maybe dancing or walking more than usual or nice bike rides. I also think the two 'reed-thin (aka healthy weight at the moment) boys need their diets watching or they are likely to expand rapidly one they have stopped growing also.

Protein calories are better than carbs ( not suggeting any blanket bans but care with them). Think twice about anything with added sugar at all. Sugar makes you fat without making you feel full.

On the positive side I weigh a stone and a half less at 35 having had 2 kids than I did at 16. I think that learning to manage my weight lead to me being slimmer in the long run than the thinner people I went to school with. My brother, a 'reed thin' 16 year old is now quite overweight.

brettgirl2 Fri 05-Jul-13 11:14:27

Oh and if you make it from scratch yourself pizza doesn't have to be unhealthy.

bunnybing Tue 09-Jul-13 12:55:40

Op, do you ferry her around too much? When I was 16 I cycled/walked a lot (into town, to get to my Saturday job etc) not because I particularly enjoyed it, but to get from A to B.

Also second moving from full fat to diet coke - easily done and you soon lose the taste for sugary coke

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now