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To ask what your children eat?

(21 Posts)
happylittlefish Sun 26-Jun-16 08:15:02

My dd13 has been through many eating disorders and is currently going through recovery for about the fourth time. She's really obsessed with food and is quite fearful of it.

The thing she wants to know is what/how much to eat. We aren't sure how much children around her age should be eating, so could anyone post what their children/teens eat in a day so we can create a meal plan for her, that is similar to 'normal' kids??

Thanks in advance for responses

branofthemist Sun 26-Jun-16 08:21:59

The things is what my 12 year old Dd may eat may not be what your Dd would eat. My Dd does a ton of sport and is very small for her age. She eats differently than a tall girl her age or someone who doesn't do sport.

She also eats differently depending on how much sport she is doing that day.

If she has suffered eating disorders, hasn't she been given guidance by professionals?

Nanunanu Sun 26-Jun-16 08:28:41

There is no set menu. No average. Each teens needs are different.

What does her eating disorders team suggest?

I hope this recovery sticks. For her and you. So young to have been so ill so often. Must be really hard for you.

AppleSetsSail Sun 26-Jun-16 08:34:58

I doubt you'll find many parents of teenagers who actually have a firm grasp on what their children eat, because they eat so much. I think you need to call in the experts on this one, and create a meal plan that your daughter is happy with.

Good luck. flowers

blueskyinmarch Sun 26-Jun-16 08:35:48

I am not sure looking at what any individual eats will help. This will vary a lot. I think you need to support her to look at eating three meals a day and maybe a few snacks.

I would think most kids eat either toast or cereal for breakfast. But some may enjoy yogurt with fruit and granola. Some may like boiled eggs.

For lunch again may vary: sandwiches, wraps, soup, salads would be entirely normal.

Dinner: Main meal so something with pasta, rice, potato, a protein source and some veg.

Snacks could be fruit, veg sticks/hummus dip, oatcakes and few slices of cheese. (My own teens preferred chocolate, biscuits, cake and crisps)

I hope your DD makes a good recovery.

Girlgonewild Sun 26-Jun-16 09:10:18

In this house largely what they like.
If you want to know what is a good system though a handful size of veg, meat/fish and a brown carb might be good for most meals if you are struggling with normal portion size although some people would ditch the carb and up the good fats/protein.

We tend to have things like eggs for breakfast, not toast and no one in the house drinks milk. I think one teenager has bought some almond milk this week apparently - they tend to order and buy their own stuff too but they are older than 13.

I have one son trying to gain weight - he is not anorexic but he is thin for his height and wants to bulk up. So he will eat absolutely massive meals, 6 yorkshire puddings etc etc.

I think if your daughter ate say 4 eggs and 2 slices of bacon for breakfast and then for lunch probably school lunch whatever that is and then once she gets home a snack (my son trying to bulk up eats a whole pack of rice cakes at a time which is not what I recommend but his choice!) and then h ave a meal with a lot of very good fats, medium protein and if she's weight to gain potatoes, brown rice and loads and loads of fresh veg.

However if she has an eating disorder she probably should take advice from an expert, not us on here.

I always say to my thin son if you want to gain weight eat what I easily do - a pack of 1200 calories nuts and raisins always goes down very well with me whereas he'd eat far fewer.

happylittlefish Sun 26-Jun-16 09:27:29

Thanks for replies.

Dietician says let her eat what she wants, as long as she eats adequate calories. But, she's really health focused and doesn't eat any jink whatsoever. No white carbs, no chocolate, biscuits, sweets etc. That's fine, but she's not eating enough I don't think. Next app. is 2 weeks, so that's why I came on here to ask for advice.

missybct Sun 26-Jun-16 09:48:30

I had an ED at around her age, and I tend to agree with her methodology for recovery - back in the 90's my dietician was "Eat whatever, hell, have two cakes, so long as you gain" which really screwed up my association of food for a long, long time (I gained, and more so, which is really common).

If she feels comfortable restricting or avoiding white carbs etc, then that's cool - she can get plenty of calorie heavy, healthy foods such as avocados, nuts, cheeses etc. These are all very well promoted foods within the "health food" industry, so it will pay off making sure she sticks to a sort of unprocessed diet moving forwards.

If she's not keen on white carbs - wholemeal bread, wraps, pittas are a good shout. Same with pasta/rice - quinoa and cous cous etc. Plenty of carb alternatives to white pasta and bread.

Good idea for breakfast would be some wholemeal bread and a couple of scrambled eggs, or a bowl of granola and yoghurt with a banana.

Mid morning snack at school could be a handful of almonds or cashew nuts which are easily transported in a small tupperware box.

Lunch - wrap with chicken, salad and an apple/other fruit. She could also fit in more yoghurt here depending on how her appetite increases.

Home-time - Perhaps this could be scheduled for a "treat" if she feels able in future - a hot chocolate, a flapjack, something she can work towards and feels comfortable doing. For now, carrots with hummous is a good shout, or a selection of veg with a dip (yoghurt, salsa) would be a good, healthy tide over snack (same with crackers and hummous etc).

Dinner - Wholemeal spaghetti with bolognese and lentils, chicken salad with potatoes and avocado, you can even do wholemeal bases for pizzas with plenty of tomato sauce, veggies and a bit of cheese. Baked sweet potatoes/jacket potatoes with tuna.

If she has a particular favourite, hone in on it - if she's used to routine in restricting, having a favourite meal may enable her to feel a semblance of control that she's losing now she's committed to recovering from restricting her diet. May also be worth buying a family whiteboard/chalkboard that can go in the kitchen so she can plan out her weekly meals, for the same reason as above. This means it's visible for you all - if she was to note it down privately she may be incline to write down "xxx = 300 calories" and then total it up - if it's on a chalkboard, she can't easily get away with tracking calories.

There are so many more health products on the market these days catered to those who want to maintain or gain weight carefully - the emphasis has shifted from the "doesn't matter as long as its low fat" culture of the mid-90's and more toward the "sustainable, unprocessed food" culture of raw food diets etc.

I wish you both lots of luck and best wishes for the future. I'm not a health professional, and I'd advise any suggestions I made (esp about writing out food plans etc) be discussed with your professionals as I wouldn't want to contradict their plans. It was just something I felt I would have benefited from in hindsight, but definitely does depend on whether your DD is stable enough to not let any form of control escalate back.

happylittlefish Sun 26-Jun-16 10:14:50

Thank you for the response 😊

We write down her daily intake together, and then talk about where she could improve. This time, her recovery seems a lot more stable and I'm confident that she will be all good sometime in the future. Her current diet is:
Porridge, banana
Apple, strawberries, light babybel
Chicken salad, sometimes with pasta
Tea, whatever it may be

So not a lot of food, but it is improving 😊

missybct Sun 26-Jun-16 10:19:12

She sounds like she's doing really well - porridge is a brilliant filler with a banana and she's eating protein, vegetables and carbs. Maybe an avocado (if she likes them) in with the salad would be good, and perhaps a wholemeal wrap with the babybel/fruit - sometimes the smallest things can help the most.

happylittlefish Sun 26-Jun-16 11:01:40

Yes, next week we're adding avocado to her salads, and kidney/cannellini beans too. Also probably some brown rice/pasta etc. Will buy some nuts to go with her fruit/babybel 😊

She is doing really well - a few weeks ago she wasn't eating at all, so she's come a long way 😁

cheapredwine Sun 26-Jun-16 11:37:13

Oh OP, I don't envy you. Or her. Been there many times myself, drawer full of fucking t shirts.

Going to throw a bloody big rock into the pond here but... Have you considered the Maudsley / family approach? She'll hate it, it's very tough for everyone, but there is a lot to say for it (from the other side). It depends how desperate you are (my sense is you're being positive and she is apparently being compliant?) but ultimately, and if she was / is very underweight, she needs to gain weight. Her brain is starving and until she's fed and weight restored, she can't think straight. It'll mean her eating a lot.

With all respect to her, you and PP, tiptoeing around with a no white carbs / no chocolate type restrictive approach is...dangerous. In my opinion. And IMHO she's simply not eating enough. She is not going to gain weight on that diet without additional supplementation. And until she is weight restored, the ED will continue to dominate.

You need much more of a plan with her treatment team. Honestly, that dietician sounds hopeless. Have they even said how many calories she should be having? Was she in patient? What about Fortisips etc? Did she have a tube? Are you / they monitoring her weight? Is she over exercising (secretly)? Being sick or using laxatives? Water-loading if she is being weighed? If she is compliant now after a long history of not being, I'm afraid I'd worry about these things. EDs are revoltingly pernicious and the longer she's been ill, the harder for her and you. I don't mean to scare you with all this, but it's far, far better to be going in with your eyes fully open.

Her metabolism will probably go wild on refeeding - I was still losing weight in recovery on about 3500 calories a day, insane night sweats etc. She can't consume enough calories without using dense foods - carbs and fats. And trust me, whatever she says, she is desperate to eat them. Desperate. What did she love to eat as a little one?

The only way I 'recovered' in the end, was a self-imposed Maudsley approach. Which was a fucking crazy thing to try to do, but I was sick of being ill. And I am here now. I wasn't as young as her (but 25 years of EDs, on and off, 3 bad episodes of AN, interspersed by long-standing BN of various levels of insanity) and I wasn't living at my parents' for most of it so the onus was on myself, not them IYSWIM.

Realise I am going against what missy has said here, I sincerely am not trying to cause any upset or anything. This is just my experience, and sadly too many years of effing and jeffing around with the sort of approach which panders to the ED in a smoke and mirrors fashion. She needs feeding, she needs to at least get to an average weight for her age and height and that's where you will start having your daughter back. It's a long, tough road though. School need to be on board. Google 'around the dinner table' forum. And there are (or used to be) useful resources on the GOSH website.

Sending love and flowers and a lot of strength

cheapredwine Sun 26-Jun-16 11:38:13

Missy sorry, got the wrong highlight thing in that post - meant to bold your name not strike you out!! Agh

happylittlefish Sun 26-Jun-16 11:53:31

Thanks cheapredwine 😊
She is being compliant so far, and is not over exercising / using laxatives - she's more or less in my view at all times. I did think that refusing certain foods was part of her ED, but (not sure if this is harsh) I'm going to try and get her to eat the foods she is resisting. I know she isn't eating enough and we still have a long way to go - more mentally than physically.

She is underweight, and she isn't gaining as we've only been helping her the past few weeks. I agree, the dietician is hopeless, but dd prefers us working together anyway. We have a really good relationship which is probably why she's letting me help.

As far as control goes, I've taken it away from her. I cook and prepare all her food so she doesn't feel as guilty. Its just really hard in the beginning.

The dietician said around 3000 calories per day until she reaches 7 stone (she's around 5 now). DD hates eating extra and she does struggle - she just wants to be 'normal' - but she's getting through it.

I'm currently with her trying to come up with a high calorie but mostly healthy 3000 calorie plan. I've told her its okay to have treats in moderation, and its perfectly fine to eat when she's hungry.

Do you have any ideas for the plan? We're stuck at the moment 😌

Girlgonewild Sun 26-Jun-16 12:08:17

That sounds sensible. 5 stone is very light. I would encourage her to eat as much as possible if you can. Until the weight is a reasonable level I think it's hard for the person to think straight so the priority is getting the weight back up.

Healthy high calorie would be nuts and raisins perhaps? You can eat a lot in a healthy way but I suspect she may be a bit resistant to high calorie healthy meals with loads of good fats etc.

My vegan teenage son (not the very thin one I mentioned above) eats lots of dates on his porridge which obviously bump up the calories. he likes the Ella recipe books but I support the comments above that if there is an eating disorder (he doesn't have one) then the priority should not be pandering too much to complex likes and dislikes and just getting the calories piled on in there.

Does she like things like cheese or full fat milk? If not she can get a lot of good fats in avocado and my boys eat fruit by the bucketload almost.

It's a huge advantage she gets on well with you and is eating what you cook which is not typical of 5 stone anorexics so do do check she is not just going along with it and then throwing it all up after or hiding the food. It is an awful thing to have. I have a sibling who works as a doctor in this field and I know it is one of the hardest conditions to treat. Good luck.

DelphiniumBlue Sun 26-Jun-16 12:29:03

It sounds like you have a great relationship and you are supporting her well.

I'm wondering whether the 3000 calories recommended by the dietician is a bit over ambitious for some with an ED, I suspect it might seem daunting. By comparison, my son ( over 6 foot tall and 14 stone) eats about 2000 calories a day in order to maintain his weight. That works out at 3 normal meals ( eg cereal for breakfast, large baguette and cheese/ham/salad for lunch , and a large portion of whatever for dinner ( curry and rice, pasta and meatballs, meat spuds and veg).
I think that 3000 calories would mean eating almost constantly, which I would suspect she would find difficult, particularly as to get to 5 stone, her recent intake must have virtually nothing, and she will be used to very small portions.
You say that she's only been eating properly for a few weeks - I would keep any increase very gradual.
I was also wondering whether she is actually keeping it all down - if she is eating what you say she is, she should start putting weight back on. However, I'm not a doctor, and I don't know how soon weight increase could be expected to happen, or how much she would need to eat to put on weight rather staying at 5 stone.
Good luck to both of you

happylittlefish Sun 26-Jun-16 12:57:50

Thanks for response 😊 to get to 3000 cals, we are increasing her intake very slowly to make dd more comfortable. We don't have a deadline to meet 7 stone, we just hope to get to that target gradually to give dd time to mentally recover as well as physically.

Today she has had:
- Big bowl of porridge made with FF milk, a banana, a bowl of raisins and some mixes berries
- A salmon & lettuce sandwich on brown, bowl of red grapes, an apple and a big dollop of FF, natural peanut butter. Also had a glass of FF milk to go with it. Tea tonight will be a full roast beef dinner with all the trimmings, though I suspect she will have a smaller portion. May also have some more snacks later too. I think she's done okay today 😊

cheapredwine Sun 26-Jun-16 13:14:18

Oh happy you sound like you're doing incredibly. How tall is she? My guess is she is terribly underweight? I'd actually suggest you ask dietician or her GP for Fortisips (or similar like Ensure) as a means of getting calories into her (300 cals per 200ml bottle). This has to be a priority. You must get her weight up. Drinking them is quickest but be wary of them being easy to purge. They taste MUCH better frozen - decant into a small Tupperware and put in the freezer. From memory take about 8 hours. You can also warm the chocolate one for eg to make a (sickly) hot chocolate. You can buy them but they're very ££££ - but if she us underweight her GP should be able to prescribe boxes of them. Variety of flavours, recommend banana (and I loathe banana flavoured stuff normally).

I might be being cynical but it's not your lovely DD who likes the dietician, it's the ED...

I am pretty sure there are lots of recipes on 'Around the dinner table' and I think they do a recipe book too. Definitely have a read on there, there are lots of families sadly in the same sort of position as you and your DD. You need to keep her out of the kitchen and not able (herself) to count calories. She'll resist massively I'd expect but trust me, it'll also be a huge secret relief for her to hand over control. She has to trust you, to let you be her Mum and feed her.

I used the GOSH refeeding guidelines for myself - they use rough units of 150 calories but nothing is measured or weighed. Strongly suggest you don't measure / weigh, or if you do, don't let her know the numbers. She needs feeding regularly - morning snack, afternoon snack, possibly bed time snack as well as 3 meals. Suggest you take complete charge of 1 meal initially and don't let her (well her ED) dictate what you're having. So things she used to love, and without pandering to ED restrictions at all. It's a hideous balancing act and it will be very hard for all of you. The sheer volume of food she'll need to eat on a 'healthy' 3000 calorie plan is going to be very tough and I don't think doable (though it depends on whether she has high calorie 'safe' foods, some anorexics will do though most don't).

The light Babybel need to go. Minimum level of semi skimmed milk. Proper butter. Only concessions should be things she genuinely doesn't like (historically I mean, from when she was younger). I'd maybe let her have 5 'dislikes' - but not things like butter, cheese, chips etc unless she genuinely has always hated them.

Please please talk this through with her treatment team though, and I'd definitely keep as open mind as possible about her dietician. I think you need to be prepared to find someone else if you don't get more guidance. As hard as that'll be for your DD (well, her ED).

That's very hopeful if she's not over-excercising or anything but urge you to be vigilant - running up and down stairs in the middle of the night, sit ups in her bedroom, endless fidgeting, walking to school instead of the bus, walking at school, doing extra sport especially running... Does she sleep ok?

You're doing an amazing job, she will get through this but it will be hard for all of you.

cheapredwine Sun 26-Jun-16 13:21:48

And having said all that ^ you do need to be wary of refeeding syndrome - again there is information on this on Around the dinner table. It's relatively rare but dangerous. Also on purging, it's not just in the say 45 minutes after meals, she can be being sick any time. A give away can be marks on her knuckles from her teeth on her dominant hand (graphic and sad, I know, sorry). She might not be using the loo, could be plastic bags, the garden.

She's done very well so far today. But ultimately she needs snacks too. Seriously. Perhaps not today but to gain steadily she will need to. Really think Fortisips might help here because they are so calorie dense and will be easier on her tummy.

She might well get constipated too and as I said before, night sweats when her metabolism kicks in.

Thinking of you OP

happylittlefish Sun 26-Jun-16 13:48:19

Thank you very much cheap 😊

The dietician did prescribe Fortisips and we are picking them up tomorrow, which is good. She's 5'6" so is very underweight. She's always been a scrawny thing but not like this.

The light babybel wont continue - it was the only cheese things we had in (hadn't been shopping). I am going shopping tonight and am going to get lots of high calorie foods - nuts, raisins, flapjacks etc.

She does sleep okay - quite a lot actually. I think its because she has no energy to do anything else.

Before I realised she had - yet another - ED, she was walking to and from school (a hefty 2.5 miles each way). I cant believe I never thought about another ED - I mean, she's susceptible to them and I feel I let her down as I didn't realise at first. Now though, she has snacks and lunch with head of year at school and I drive her to and from school.

She doesn't go in the kitchen. At all. She knows that she wont until she's fully recovered, so she has no control over anything. The only food she dislikes is raw mushrooms, so that's okay.

Am going to start incorporating snacks from now on. As a household, we don't generally buy crisps/chocolate/biscuits etc apart from a treat at the weekend, but I will stock up on them for dd if she fancies (I expect her siblings will be pleased about that 😁).

Her siblings are very supportive as well. I've got 2 other Ds's - 11 and 9. They spend a lot of time with dd, watching films & playing etc, which is food because it distracts her from food and lets her be a normal kid again. For some reason, the kids are all really close 😊

Since I found out, she's tried to purge about 3-ish times. Luckily, I've managed to stop her, sit her down and explain the damage she will do to her body. Then we hugged, she cried and we started again.

Thanks again for your reply 😊

missybct Sun 26-Jun-16 14:50:30

cheap - hey, don't worry about disagreeing with me - you've got a different experience which is just as valid and everything you've advised has been as helpful (if not more) smile - that's the beauty of MN and other forums grin

OP - You and your family sound fantastic and really supportive - I wish you all the best flowers

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