To think I'm fighting a losing battle with DD's weight?(183 Posts)
DD (5yo) is overweight. Not massively so, you wouldn't look at her and think "that's a fat child" but she is definitely carrying some extra fat around her middle and I have noticed her face looking a bit chubbier over the past few months.
Please don't flame me. I am trying very hard to address this now because I know that children who are even slightly overweight in primary often continue to struggle with their weight as they get older. I've downloaded the Food Scanner app and have become really aware of 'hidden sugars' etc, have been following NHS advice about portion sizes and snacks, cooking from scratch wherever possible etc. We walk to and from school every day, she does a weekly dance class and we take her swimming or on a long walk/bike ride every weekend. It's much easier to keep her active in the spring/summer as she's straight out in the garden on the trampoline every day after school when the weather is nice.
I'm just so tired of feeling like I'm fighting a losing battle because junk food seems to be everywhere.
DD is invited to a birthday party every weekend for the next four weeks, which is lovely, but of course means cake, sweets, pizza, crisps etc. Whenever we go on 'play dates' after-school her friends Mum's bring out sugary snacks and drinks and I don't feel able to say no because I don't want them to think I'm judging their dietary choices. It also seems cruel to DD to expect her to sit there while her friend eats something she's not allowed.
Every time we go round to a relatives house they offer DD biscuits or chocolate and it's really hard to decline without offending people. I also don't want to make an issue out of food in front of DD. I have mentioned to a couple of family members (when DD is out of the room) that we're trying to limit treats because we're a bit worried about her weight and they just look at me like I'm crazy and tell me "she's fine".
School dinners don't help- always things like pizza, potato wedges, burgers and chips and always followed by cake, ice-cream or something with custard. I would prefer her to have a packed lunch but she doesn't want to be 'different' or to sit away from her friends. The few kids who have packed lunches eat in a separate room.
Having realised that some of the cereals we were offering for breakfast that we thought were reasonably healthy contain a lot of hidden sugar, we've been giving her Weetabix/porridge sweetened with berries instead. DH is on board with cooking healthy meals, exercise etc but he has a fondness for sugary cereals himself and keeps eating them in front of DD. I've asked him to stop and he just says "I'm not going to eat in secret, that's ridiculous". I get his point but does he think I never fancy a chocolate Hob Nob when I'm enthusiastically cutting up veggie sticks for an after-school snack?? Of course I do, but I'm not going to eat one in front of her and expect her to be happy with a carrot!
Every day when I pick DD up from school I see children who are skinny as rakes being handed bars of chocolate, Haribo and bags of crisps as soon as they come out the door and I wonder where I'm going wrong. I'm trying so hard to make sure she has a healthy diet but she's still chubby and it all seems such a slog. I have a three month old baby, I'm knackered and it would be so easy just to think "fuck it" and give in for an easy life.
I feel like a rubbish Mum
I would stop worrying about it, tbh. It is completely normal for a 5 yo to have some puppy fat. It will do her a lot more harm to feel like her food intake is being constantly monitored than for her to be a bit chubby at the moment. Keep her active, serve good meals and sensible portion sizes, and don't worry about the parties.
Sounds like you’re well on the way to fostering a future eating disorder there.
bridget the last thing I want is to make food a battleground or to give her a complex about eating. But I can't just ignore the problem and hope it goes away. What if her weight keeps creeping up? I don't want her to get bullied or have health problems down the line.
You're not a rubbish mum at all. I think you are totally right to address this now though. Your dh needs to be more supportive.
Ok, Wonko, what would you suggest?
Wow Wonko. Horrible response. As long as OP isn't telling DD she's getting fat and is managing it discreetly then there's no issue.
I agree with OP- these days no matter how hard you try at home there are a lot of external factors sabotaging you. You sound like a great mum and aware of the problem but your DH needs to get on board. Also one dance class a week isn't a lot of sport- is there anything else she could do?
Stop obsessing about a weight problem that you admit in your post only you can see.
I think it's about forming good habits that will last a lifetime. You need to tightly control the junk and the sugar.
Parties - it's hard. But that party should replace one of her meals that day. Make the other more veg based with less meat and dairy. Snacks should be really low calorie but high in volume to help her feel fuller (sugar free jelly or plain popped by yourself popcorn)
Relatives - tell them straight. They love your DD and should be on your side. If they don't fall in to line, you stop visiting.
Don't mention weight or dieting. It so tricky, especially when you need to get family on board. She also needs to understand why you are making some changes. I personally would lie to everyone. Take her to the dentist, then tell family they have warned there are some signs of tooth decay. Explain that to DD afterwards too. You're cutting sugar to keep her teeth healthy. Less stigma I'm afraid, but also less potential to give the wrong message to DD re weight.
Then when DD asks for extra snacks or why Bob and Billy always get chocolate after school, you can simply say 'we are looking after your teeth'.
Add in some extra exercise. My DS is out on the trampoline every day regardless of weather. I bought water shoes for DS so his feet don't get so cold and he still has flexibility and grip. Then wrap up warm. Go on it with her if you can. Get her in to the habit of playing outside every day regardless of weather, except when it's proper belting it down!
Stop obsessing about a weight problem that you admit in your post only you can see
Really helpful! Clearly the OP has recognised in HER child weight gain and is seeking advice to try and address that. Given the huge issue with overweight kids in the UK right now fair dues to her. No need to act like a twat about it.
Also one dance class a week isn't a lot of sport- is there anything else she could do?
I know it's not, I'd really like her to do more but one dance class and taking her swimming weekly is all we can manage financially at the moment. We walk briskly for about 30 minutes every day, they do the 'Daily Mile' at school. When the weather is nice she will happily run around the garden and bounce on the trampoline for hours. I'm struggling to think of sporting activities we can do in the week with rubbish weather, limited funds and a small baby in tow.
Some people are naturally slimmer than others. My dd has a friend who isn't fat but is built so solidly very strong little girl, dd is tall and willowy. Her friend can literally pick her up under one arm and carry her around 😂😂😂. If you stand the mums next to each other - you've guessed it....!
I think all you can do is what you are doing already by the sound of it tbh.
There will follow a load of people who pick apart everything you feed her obsessively just be warned.
At the risk of stating the obvious they chub up a bit before a growth spurt.......
Oh just one thing - make her walk as much as possible.
Having had one overweight child I was worried last year when my 5
Year old son was weighing in on a centile way above his height centile. I found that there was a council/nhs joint initiative who helped with advice and free swimming etc and contacted them. Meantime I upped his exercise by adding in daily walks to our normal schedule and booked him into extra classes too. (He now does gymnastics twice a week, football twice a week, trampolining once a week and a martial arts class.) I also limited unhealthy snacking, swapped some snacks for fruits and veg and took an honest view of his food portions and realised he consistently ate adult sized portions.
A year on and he is a normal build, verging on slim with a six pack rather than a pudgy layer. Some of his change could well be age related as he has left the chubby baby shape behind completely.
He still gets crisps around 5 times a week and chocolate or sweets 3/4
Times. But it is a controlled portion and amount and his meals are smaller or better proportioned for his age. We also helped him see he often said “I’m hungry” when he meant bored.
I'm in exactly the same boat OP. DS isn't noticeable fat but he is short for his age and therefore should be lighter. He's had a little growth spurt recently so has been looking a bit more in proportion. We're trying little extra spurts of exercise - going a longer way home to "explore", trying to be good about walking to the shops, and also aiming for light, veg heavy meals for tea. He eats a mountain at lunch by the sounds of it.
With the addition of a new baby, it sounds like you're doing a great job.
What have her recent weight checks come back with? Because I assume you’ve had her weighed if you’re worried?
Wonko I am a Children's Nurse. So I know that contrary to popular belief, "puppy fat" on a Reception aged child is neither 'normal' nor healthy. You should be able to see their ribs. Parents of overweight children are judged as neglectful but if you try to address a potential weight problem you're accused of "fostering an eating disorder". You can't win. Which is probably why parents like me feel like saying "fuck it" and giving up sometimes and many do, which is why there are so many obese children.
I think you've got the right approach. IMO as long as you are cooking healthy meals, providing healthy snacks and making sure they are getting plenty of exercise then you shouldn't have to worry about treats at parties or provided by other people.
I eat far too much chocolate but I don't want dd to think its normal or to have it all the time so I don't eat it until after she's in bed. I would never eat it in front of her if she couldn't have any, think that's quite cruel tbh.
In my experience kids go in and out like squeeze boxes. She may be due a growth spurt. I would just keep doing what you're doing, make plenty of opportunities for exercise and provide healthy food. Allow snacky things at weekends etc. You can't change friends' behaviour or parties, but speak to family again. My kids are the aforementioned rakes but I still used to get annoyed with the amount of crap my mum provides when we go round so have spoken about it on numerous occasions. Now they provide sandwiches or whatever first (for an after school visit say) and then some biscuits and fruit.
It sounds like you are doing a wonderful job, you have identified the hidden sugars, taken steps to address it and you are setting a great example by living an active life.
The foundation blocks are in place and with time (and a few growth spurts) your DD will be fine.
With relatives, rather than mentioning weight, I always say about teeth health and how the dentist has advised no sugary drinks or snacks except on 1 day a week. That usually works.
Go easy on yourself OP sounds like you are doing a great job.
In our family treats and sweet stuff is something you eat elsewhere, so parties, grandparents house etc. At home we eat a low sugar, low processed food diet with tonnes of veggies. I don't worry too much about healthy fat but we do clamp down on sugar.
Breakfast is porridge or omelette or greek yoghurt. Lunch is school dinner - usually ok. Dinner is home cooked with lean meat, veg and a small carb portion.
I am wary of giving my dc issues, so we say its all about good dental hygiene. My kids are a little on the large size but I am instilling good values in them and they will grow into their weight. They are both very active and we do loads of activities.
The area I struggle with is at school. Breakfast club usually offers pain au chocolate for breakfast, so now I feed my dc before school but they still eat some of it. After school club gives them biscuits or toast with jam. I have spoken to the school but they see no issue with this.
My inlaws think sugar is an essential food group for children and feed them biscuits followed by nuggets and chips. So I make a real effort to balance it out during the week.
I don't really get it, I grew up eating chips with every meal, very few veggies and sweets most days and I was very slim as a child. We didn't do many after school activities either.
What have her recent weight checks come back with? Because I assume you’ve had her weighed if you’re worried?
I haven't had her weighed because I don't think it's appropriate to take her to the GP and discuss her weight in front of her at this stage and I know she will be weighed at school as part of the National Child Measurement Programme in the next few weeks anyway. I can see that she has put on weight. I said I am a Children's Nurse, formerly a school nurse so part of my job was to monitor height and weight in DC of this age and I can tell that she is overweight for her height.
You don't have to give her chocolate/crisps after school. You can tell her "one biscuit only" at other family houses and she eats most of her meals at yours. I imagine the school meals are actually quite balanced.
Has she been weighed at school and you've had notice she's overweight?
It's not normal to have puppy fat and your relatives will be comparing her to the other (some overweight) children her age so they won't have a valid comparison.
There is a child in my DS class who is grossly overweight. This DC came to DS' party and didn't like one food we served "OK just leave it" I said. DC was clearly shocked we weren't fussing around to push lots of tastier alternatives. Younger sibling, nursery age, is also massively overweight.
Keep on with portion sizes, fruit for snacks, no puddings in the week, and not so many visits to indulgent relatives or other families that hand out sweeties!
Good for you OP. Far too many children are overweight and are developing unhealthy eating habits. We now know that the real problem in children's diets is sugar.
First of all, stop buying crap for your DH to eat in the house. That's just unkind and not likely to help your DD develop good eating habits. Don't overthink her having party food when she's out. But if she's at a play date, I'd tell the parent beforehand that she's not allowed sweets or rubbish drinks, so they don't inadvertently offer her any.
If relatives can't suppprt you in this, then they don't get to be with your DD. They should respect your wishes. It's not just about not getting fat, it's about eating foods that are good for your body.
Is there no way you could walk more than 30 mins a day with her? My DD same age walks (on a school day) for about 1hr30 mins altogether.
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