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Secret eating, is this normal?

(12 Posts)
hibbledibble Tue 09-Jun-15 14:07:40

Dd is 4.5, very tall for her age, and also pretty thin (but not overly so). She eats 3 good meals a day, with plenty of snacks too after school. I have no issues with her eating meals. She eats large portions (pretty much adult sized) and I always give her more if she is hungry.

The maybe odd thing, is that after bedtime she sneaks into the kitchen almost every night and eats lots. I often only know when I find the empty packets (often under her bed). We try to avoid treat foods for this reason, but she will gorge on other foods like peanut butter, yoghurt, fruit etc. Anyone else have any experience of this? I have no issue with her eating as she is very thin, but I would rather she ate at mealtimes!

This may or may not be relevant: she is also language delayed, and is awaiting a child development assessment regarding behaviour issues.

adoptmama Tue 09-Jun-15 14:23:06

Is she asleep when you leave her in bed? I'm wondering if she could simply be getting up and eating 'out of boredom' because everyone else is in bed and there isn't much else to do? (Does she/has she been a poor sleeper, sleeping less than average for children her age?) Do you know if there is a regular time when she is waking? If you left an acceptable snack for her in your bedroom would she be able to come and wake you to ask for it rather than raiding the cupboards or will she still go surfing the shelves? Could you make up a snack for her together before bed so that she knows there is something there if she wakes (so that if some anxiety is driving the compulsion to go eat you can alleviate it with preparing a snack together)? Is the language delay significant enough that she cannot communicate her needs to you when she wakes up so simply goes to eat instead? What other behaviour issues have you concerned?

Sorry for all the questions smile

hibbledibble Tue 09-Jun-15 14:33:27

She tends not to go to sleep till quite late (sometimes as late as 11/midnight). We try and put her to bed earlyish in a vain attempt to get her to sleep and be rested for the next day. She usually wakes at 7 or 8am. I do think that she probably sleeps less than most her age.

Her language delay is not so serious that she cannot communicate her needs, she is very capable of doing that!

Other behavioural issues include inattention, impulsivity, hyperactivity, severe temper tantrums, and aggression etc. More so than other children her age, and also pointed out by nursery.

hibbledibble Tue 09-Jun-15 14:34:34

I haven't tried making up a snack for her as I don't want to encourage the night time eating, but am open to suggestions.

Cinderling Tue 09-Jun-15 15:57:24

Have you asked your GP about this? It seems strange to me that she could be consuming 3 adult size meals and be a thin 4 year old. Could the hunger be caused by a medical issue?
How many calories a day (give or take) would you think she is getting through?

hibbledibble Tue 09-Jun-15 22:03:24

cinderling she has always had a very big appetite, so I haven't thought of a medical issue behind this. I just believe she has a high metabolism, like me. Eating lots and staying thin is a family trait on my side of the family.

A typical days food for example for her:

Breakfast: a bowl of yoghuy, 2 weetabix with milk and maybe some fruit

Lunch: 1-2 sandwiches, fruit and veg, crackers/bread sticks

Dinner: plate of hot food, followed by lots of fruit

She also has lots of snacks at nursery, and when I pick her up.

In terms of calories I'm not sure, but probably similar to an adult. 1500-2000/day?

Luna9 Tue 09-Jun-15 22:12:33

It doesn't look like a lot of food to me; however Anxiety, over eating and not sleeping well could be a sign of hyperthyroidism. I will get dome tests done just yo discard any physical health issues

hibbledibble Wed 10-Jun-15 07:56:17

Luna she has a lot of snacks too, plus is always given second helpings if she asks. I believe it is a lot for a four year old as it is comparable to what an adult would eat. If she needs more food, I would rather she had it during the day than sneaking food, and leaving cutlery/packaging under her bed.

hibbledibble Wed 10-Jun-15 10:57:10

The point I'm trying to make is that I don't think she is eating out of hunger, but I suspect it is more likely due to a psychological reason.

Luna9 Wed 10-Jun-15 18:34:56

It can be psychological or a physical reason like hyperthyroidism; have you been at the GP and ask for blood tests?

MrsNextDoor Wed 10-Jun-15 19:40:31

It sounds to me as though she might be using food as stimulation and that she could have a sensory issue going on there.

Has she got any other behaviours which make her seek out physical stimulation in an unusual way? Fabric touching? Lots of affection?

I would as an experiment get her a chewy necklace OP...explain that it's to help her keep her teeth busy at bedtime. There's loads online...google chewy necklace sensory and you will see.

hibbledibble Wed 10-Jun-15 19:57:15

Luna I will see the go

Mrs its interesting what you say. She is unusually affectionate with strangers: forming attachments very quickly. I'll have a look at the chewy necklaces.

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