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Is DD's weight issue an addiction I should tackle or ignore?

(58 Posts)
Alittlegusty Thu 12-Nov-15 12:41:24

Have NC'd to protect DD. She is a great girl, Year 13 currently applying for Medical School but has been struggling with her weight, or rather her eating, for the last couple of years.
She has always been towards the top of the healthy range but now is very definitely overweight. Her clothes no longer fit and she has taken to wearing the same shapeless baggy stuff. We bought a lovely smart suit in the Summer sales for interviews (which will she have as part of the Uni application process) but it won't go near her now. She has stopped growing in height but is continuing to get bigger. Other extended family members have made comments to me and I am struggling to know what to do.

My gut feeling is that it seems to be a kind of addction. We eat sensibly at home, mostly home-cooked meals with puddings at weekends and just a yogurt or similar in the week. I have stopped buying biscuits but it doesn't help, she will almost gratuitously find things in the cupboards and make toast and jam, mug brownies (only needs flour, cocoa etc which I have for baking) and flapjacks and other high calorie stuff. I find empty bowls hidden in drawers weeks later! It is not just overeating, but almost as if she is in some kind of race to eat as much as possible. She will eat others' leftovers even after a big meal. I supposed the non-PC term is greed.

It really feels like a self-sabotaging addiction and I have started to think that if this was alcohol or drugs she was treating in this way I would force her to confront it. I have tried to encourage her to eat healthily now an again but generally have said nothing, but Sthis has obviously not helped as she continues to overeat and be miserable about it.

My final worry is her medical school application. She has worked so hard to get the grades she needs, work experience etc and wants to do nothing else as a dareer but I'm worried that she will be judged negatively by the interview panel as they might expect her to be healthy if she is going to go into medicine, knowing that obesity is a huge problem for our nation. Time is running out as she is likely to hav interviews after Christmas.

Everyone else in the family is a healthy average weight. I love her so much and feel that I am watching a slow train crash without doing anything to stop it. She is definitely unhappy but fets very defensive if I ever mention not e.g eating seconds when no one else is, which I rarely do.

Can anyone give me an insight into what to do?
I feel I'm being negligent to ignore it any longer.

Alittlegusty Thu 12-Nov-15 12:43:42

Sorry about the typos, it won't let me edit them.

Dameshazaba Thu 12-Nov-15 12:45:40

Could it be a sugar addiction? If so worth investigating from a diagnosis/ intervention perspective?

Dameshazaba Thu 12-Nov-15 12:46:07

You sound like a fab mum BTW flowers

Thefitfatty Thu 12-Nov-15 12:46:18

Why don't you sit down and talk to her about it? Not in a condemning way, but in a "Honey, I've noticed that you are eating a lot more then normal, and I'm wondering what is wrong? Do you feel hungry all the time, stressed or is it a comfort thing?" Start the dialogue there and see what she says and what she wants to do.

ImperialBlether Thu 12-Nov-15 12:46:23

I think you should try to help her now. It does sound as though she's eating in a very unhealthy way. The trouble is that you don't want it to go the other way. Could you do something like buy both of you FitBits and aim for 10,000 steps per day?

Is she unhappy about anything else? It sounds as though she is. Does she have good friends?

It would be interesting to know how she thinks she'd deal with this as a doctor.

patterkiller Thu 12-Nov-15 12:51:17

Watching with interest. I'm in a similar situation with my DD also year 13. She's not an unhealthy weight yet but it's the speed of weight gain that worries me. I haven't said anything to her, the last thing I want is to add pressure to her.

I'm assuming it's comfort eating with exam stress but I'm non the wiser how to deal with it.

AshleyWilkes Thu 12-Nov-15 13:29:45

Can you sit her down for a nice informal"mother daughter" chat or take her out for coffee, cinema so its in a relaxed setting?

Could you suggest something along the lines of"new year's resolution for me is to exercise more /go swimming every week, fancy joining me?" And see what her reaction is?

teeththief Thu 12-Nov-15 13:38:50

The fact that she's hiding the bowls shows she knows she shouldn't be doing it (much like an alcoholic would hide bottles). I agree you need to help her deal with it now before it becomes a bigger problem. The fitbits suggestion is a good one. I don't think skirting around the issue will help at her age though and you need to tell it how it is in the nicest way possible.

You sound like a great parent by the way x

maggieryan Thu 12-Nov-15 13:38:55

Could you join a gym and pretend you want to tone up before Christmas and ask her to go along for company or an hour walk each night. It's a tough one isn't it. X

Givemecoffeeplease Thu 12-Nov-15 13:43:04

I agree. You sound fab. I was a fat teen and struggled for years with my weight. I found OA a great help, and discovered sport at uni via a team. That also helped. Good luck to you both x

Jackie0 Thu 12-Nov-15 13:44:45

I was a bit like this when I was young , I was starving and binging. It was all down to self esteem and various things that aren't relevant to your situation. At the time I would have been mortified if anyone drew attention to it but looking back wish someone had said something, especially a lovely mum like you.
As other posters have said you need a calm heart to heart with her .
It's fixable but she will certainly do better when it's all out in the open , shes lucky to have you .

CurlyCustard Thu 12-Nov-15 13:45:16

You're a lovely mum and if I were in the same position I'd be concerned too. There is a condition called binge eating disorder which is characterised by big binges and rapid weight gain as well as depressive behaviour surrounding the guilt of the binge. I'm not saying in the slightest that this is what she has, there may very well be a hormone problem which in itself contributes to weight gain. Has she had her thyroid tested? Sorry if that sounds like a horrible scenario but I'd intervene now before things get too much and so support networks can be put in place before she starts med school. Lots of luck OP flowers

Mistigri Thu 12-Nov-15 13:45:49

No intelligent 17 year old is going to fall for the "its to help mum get fit" lie. And you will lose her confidence and her respect if you lie to her.

It's very difficult to help practically, because the last thing a girl with an eating disorder needs is to feel that her mum is controlling her food intake. It will lead to anger and resentment and it will probably make things worse.

I think there are two issues here tbh. Firstly the food problem is probably a symptom of something bigger - stress, lack of self-confidence, friendship issues at school - are you aware of anything like this? Its sounds like something has happened to trigger a full blown binge-eating type eating disorder (before the rapid weight gain started, did she seem especially worried about food? Has she ever dieted?)

I know there is not much help available in the UK these days, but I would want her to take medical advice - would she talk to her GP do you think?

PiccalilliSandwiches Thu 12-Nov-15 13:51:23

Yes I'd raise it with her. Perhaps something like myfitnesspal would help her see what she's eating?

I interview for medical school though and I can categorically say weight is not taken into account in the selection process. An understanding of the implications of obesity on society would be expected though, so perhaps she could look at that and it may make her make a change for herself.

WaxyBean Thu 12-Nov-15 14:04:07

Raise it with her in a sensitive way. My recommendation would be the easy loss virtual gastric band (or little black dress-bikini body) hypnosis sessions (on iTunes). V cheap and good at resetting relationships with food.

Pipestheghost Thu 12-Nov-15 14:04:24

You find empty bowls hidden in drawers, so she is also concealing what she is eating. This is a tough one, but it sounds like you need to confront it with her and offer your support.

BluePancakes Thu 12-Nov-15 14:13:43

Sounds like she is stressed, and doesn't know how to manage it. That's what I would be focussing on rather than the eating.
Definitely talk to her about it, and what can you/she do to help lower her stress levels. Exercise would definitely help, but again I'd focus on exercise to reduce stress so perhaps yoga or pilates, or go out to a dance class together or something. Maybe schedule time for a massage or simply a long hot bath. I know when I was doing my ALs I thought they were everything so would consider a long bath (instead of a quick shower) to be a waste of time, but self-care is important, especially if she is looking to go into medicine.

LikeASoulWithoutAMind Thu 12-Nov-15 14:17:49

How worrying for you OP.

I agree with Mistigri - it might help you to think about what the root cause of this is. Is it the pressure of school work? Friendships? etc

I think I'd want proper advice on the best way to approach her about it. Either from your GP or perhaps a specialist charity?

This might help.

jennifer86 Thu 12-Nov-15 14:18:19

I agree it sounds like there is more to this than food. Is she stressed about the prospect of interviews? Is she having problems with friends or school work? Maybe having second thoughts about uni but doesn't feel she can change her mind? I would start by trying to find out what the underlying problem is and support her with that, and maybe she would confide in you about her problems with food. They won't count her weight against her in the selection process for medical school but she might be worried they will and this could also be driving the problem. I hope you find a way to help her with whatever is wrong. flowers

CesareBorgiasUnicornMask Thu 12-Nov-15 14:18:26

I think everything everyone else has said is spot on so won't go into that, but re medical school:

I was interviewed for and got a place medical school when I was a size 20, though I've lost weight since. I think the most important thing is (obviously) the content of her interview but also her presentation more generally. As in, much better to get a smart suit in a larger size that fits her and makes her feel comfortable, get her hair done nicely etc, than to try either to squeeze into something too small or go with baggy, shapeless things. The interviewers will hopefully be aware that there are many factors why people might be overweight, including medical and psychiatric reasons, none of which impact upon their ability to be a good doctor.

For me the main worry would be that it makes her less confident for the interviews, and a lack of confidence will definitely come across, so perhaps talk to her about what she wants to do to help her feel and present confidently: as in does she need a bigger suit, does her current hair/makeup suit her current shape etc? Don't say you're worried she'll be judged negatively, but maybe say uou want to do everything you can to help her feel smart and confident. I know it was something I really worried about (I think needlessly) before my interviews so chances are she will be too.

BertieBotts Thu 12-Nov-15 14:26:13

I don't think I would approach this in terms of let's fix it with weight loss. I only know a little bit about eating disorders buy this strikes me as a particularly bad idea if she's in a binge purge cycle, because the exercise is a way of purging and can become an obsession of its own.

I think it's better to go straight to the heart of the matter and say, look, I can see you are struggling and maybe it's a good idea to speak to the doc.

Though I like the idea of asking her what feelings are behind the extra eating, boredom, hunger or comfort. Because if it's hunger you would need to see GP anyway but you're going in with a different focus, and if it's boredom then maybe the weight loss or exercise is a better plan. But if it's comfort or she doesn't know why and feels compelled to eat, then you're looking at mental health as a potential cause.

It's worth calling an organisation called b-eat, too - they are very knowledgeable and may be able to advise on the best way to begin.

titchy Thu 12-Nov-15 14:43:56

If she's having interviews shortly after Christmas I'd say nothing until after they've happened. She is probably incredibly stressed about them, hence the over-eating, and bringing it to the fore will probably just give her something else to stress over as once it's out in the open it has to be dealt with, and she probably doesn't have the headspace to do that yet.

deeedeee Thu 12-Nov-15 15:00:22

I think you should treat the weight gain and secret eating as a symptom of some emotional issue that she is having trouble dealing with. Is there anything you can think of? Any self esteem issues? Family problems ? Bullying? Stress? Pressure?

I would avoid treating the symptom rather than the cause, as you may actually exacerbate any nascent eating disorder by focussing on food, or her weight.

I'd say instead you focus on her emotions and self esteem. Use your obvious love for your daughter and LOVE HER regardless of her weight, Talk to her about emotions, about stress, about guilt, about shame, about fear, about boredom, about anxiety. About all the emotions that she may be having trouble dealing with, and be numbing with food.

If you do that, and encourage her to talk and to feel her emotions and not be scared of them, then you will help solve the problem and it may go away without you needing to talk to her about food and weight. Make her feel loved unconditionally.

I'd also avoid at all costs mentioning your fear about her interviews with regards to her weight, as you may risk Making her feel guilty that her weight gain may ruin her interviews and mess up her life . Which is only going to make her self esteem and stress worse and feed the problem.

deeedeee Thu 12-Nov-15 15:13:32

Also look at yourself, as you as her mother may be a role model for your daughter's relationship with food and her body.

What kind of role model are you with regards to self esteem and food?

It's out of context I know and I wouldn't want to spring to conclusions about you from one post, as so often happens on here. But the fear that interviewers will judge her because of her weight doesn't seem a realistic one, and "could" come from a personal ideology that believes that people who are overweight are judged harshly/ worth less etc.

Ofcourse you may not think that or project that at all, so apologies if so. But if it rings a bell with you, then maybe look at yourself and the kind of language and ideas that you could pass on to your daughter unwittingly!

Model healthy self esteem and healthy attitudes to food and excursive that doesn't connect them to self worth, or put undue importance on them.

(ofcourse, you may already do this! :-) )

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