6 year old always hungry - can't stop eating, any ideas?(23 Posts)
Long post - apologies - didn't want to drip feed but would love opinions please..
My lovely, happy and very active DS2 is always hungry. He has a very sunny disposition, loves sport (in term time does football, swimming, gymnastics and trampolining), in the holidays I make sure we do something everyday even if it's just the park. He has always liked his food (unlike DS1age 12 who needs to be reminded to eat). I am up to speed on nutritional balance (used to be a PT, no expert but I'm not clueless I hope!), I make sure they get 5 a day, limit sweet treats and crisps etc.
However, more than ever DS2 is saying 'I'm hungry' - all day from the second he wakes up. Today he ate 2x bowls of cereal, toast & fruit salad with a glass of juice for breakfast and was 'hungry' again in 5 minutes, I asked ask him to wait 30 mins at which point I will make him a banana milkshake, some hummus and pitta, he'll was immediately hungry again and I gave him some quorn eggs, then for lunch (bang on 12 - he counts the minutes down) today I gave him a ham sandwich (brown dense bread) with cut up toms/carrots/cucumber, he begs for another sandwich (if I say no he will cry because he is 'so hungry') has the second, he then had 4x petit filous and within 5 minutes was upset again because he was hungry. Being hungry is the only thing he gets upset about and having spoken to him about it he says he always feels hungry, before during and after eating.
If I make a dinner for all of us (roast chicken and all the trimmings, loads of veg, yesterday for example) I try and give him a smaller portion but he will eat as much as his Dad (healthy stuff mainly - loves greens etc), then ask for pudding (a big bowl of greek yoghurt with a bit of honey and loads of grapes), then say he is hungry again. I am genuinely concerned there is something wrong with him.
He drinks plenty of water and is active and energetic, not bored (will beg for food all day even when we're out all day doing kids activities). He is chunky and over the holidays, a month in even chunkier - he says he is also hungry at school all day but understands they can't give him food all day in lessons - he comes out of school and is ravenous though - will eat a meals worth of food after school (I'm sooo hungry') then have a full dinner after the after school activities.
I do realise I have a choice not to give in to him, if I actually gave in to every request he would be a little barrel - but I don't want to end up in a constant battle about food (although it feels like it right now), or make him feel weird about food. One of his oldest friends (very skinny) says 'why are you so fat?' to him which makes me fume! I do try and make healthy choices on the whole (but also not make stuff forbidden and therefore more interesting) but it is really doing my head in! What do you reckon?
Is he overweight?
His diet sounds healthy for an adult rather than for a growing kid but maybe that's on purpose.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
Hi op, I think you really should consider a gp visit to look at possible causes, if these are ruled out I think it may be worth asking for a referral to see a dietician.
It is possible to become overweight even with a healthy diet.
Ultimately if there is no underlying causes for this hunger you will need to work with your ds to reduce his portions to those appropriate for his age. This will be hard, ds will ask, beg but the word no will have to be used. This is an ideal time to change this behaviour, too much older and it will be really difficult to change.
Has he always been like this since he was a baby?
Sounds hard bloody work , I would keep a diary to show GP .
Is he otherwise healthy ?
I don't actually know how much he weighs , we don't have scales in the house as it was one of the things I did as a personal trainer (the focus on health and body shape/clothes fitting rather than actual weight). Great for me, however that isn't relevant for a child & I really should get him weighed and maybe look at the height weight charts to see where we are at.
A few people have commented though that he has 'filled out' and my
idiot stepfather when I was talking about how well DS2 was swimming said 'well, I bet he can float well' and snorted, implying he was fat (but that's another whole blood boiling kettle of fish!).
The thing with the diet being healthy for an adult I think is where my issue is, I try really hard to make healthy choices but he is eating as much or more than us - and that is starting to cause a weight issue (I think he is gorgeous - cuddly verging on a bit chubby though - solid rather than flabby and looks like he'll have fairly broad shoulders etc) even though he is fairly active.
I guess what is worrying me is that he is/perceives himself to be hungry even immediately after a big meal - is that greed or something else, not sure what though!?
I think the diet you described is a good diet for a child but what seems off is the portions, although we don't have weights so hard to really assess. 4 yogurts in one sitting is too much IMO.
It is worth knowing that the dietician I work with focuses very much on behaviour both of the child and the parents.
Yes, I think diary and possibly dietitian good ideas, thank you - have been holding back from doing anything as it isn't an 'illness' etc but it is a thing! I'll try the food diary thing from today (used to do that with clients back in the day -didn't imagine it a little one though!) - it'll also give me a good idea of what we're dealing with. Am going to catch the doctors now to try and make a non-urgent appointment, feels slightly bonkers to be going in and saying 'he's hungry' but I think you're right it's better to deal with it now than later.
Growth Spurt? Or is this a permanent state of being?
Thank you for replies!
Yes he is healthy otherwise but he has always had a big appetite/loved food - I feel like it is getting a bit out of hand now and the 'always hungry' thing is worrying me. Diary is a great suggestion - I used to do that with clients back in the day and I think it will help me get a true picture/see patterns or whatever. I have just called the GP and made a non-urgent appt for Weds, although feel a bit weird going in with a non illness thing and saying 'my child is hungry'! Will see what they say and would be really interested if I can get a referral to a dietitian. Also will find out how much he weighs & see where we are at on the charts. Thanks again.
& smearedinfood - yep, permanent - hungry baby and asking for food constantly since he could talk. I think it is just now he is older and can negotiate/literally count the 30 minutes I've told him to wait before he can have something else (this is straight after a meal including pudding mind you - I just want his food to go down and hopefully get the 'I'm full' signal, but there doesn't seem to be a signal!). It's a bit relentless!!
Prader-Willi results in an "always hungry" to the extent fridges etc have to be locked so the person doesnt steal food, but it sounds like hes probably not ravenous to that extent.
Are his bathroom trips excessive? If he has something like Crohns it could be that the food is passing through so quickly that he cant absorb all the nutrients from it?
i hope it all goes well op, the diary sounds like a good idea.
7 year old DS like this but he has sensory problems and I put it down to that. I don't think he knows what his tummy is telling him when he's full. He also really enjoys his food and eats really well in comparison to his his older siblings who only see food as fuel.
When he's eaten a good meal and then asks for seconds or more food after, I ask him what his tummy is telling him. Is he really hungry? Could he have a drink of water and see how he feels after that?
It doesn't always work and he has that extra roast potato etc. But a few times now, he's said: you were right, mummy, my tummy hurts now. I remind him of that when he asks and try to stretch out the time between snacks.
Like you, I don't want to make a big deal out of it and just take the approach that he should listen to his body. Hard when you're 6 or 7 though, but I hope it will lay good habits for the future.
is he getting enough protein? Cereal, toast and fruit for brekkie sounds very carb based- is he as hungry after bacon and eggs?
Definitely go to the dr and I would consider asking for a coeliac test- I am very gluten intolerant; and as well as awful bowel problems after eaten gluten, I also become ravenous which I think is my body trying to flush it out of my system. Don't stop gluten first though as it has to be in your system for the test to work. However, if test is negative might still be worth a go, but be aware that gluten free food replacements- eg bread, cake, pasta- are very high calorie so best to stick to naturally gf food like meat and potatoes!
Might be worthwhile checking out his bowel movements so you are able to say if they are normal or not?
colour ,how often etc
I have wondered about what is greed and what is 'hunger' (even when I think surely it can't be hunger!) but he does claim to be hungry when I ask him to analyse.
Re carbs - he would love me to try the eggs and bacon for breakfast hungry test - he really enjoys 'weekend breakfast' which is either a full english or smoked salmon and eggs, I need work out if on those occasions he asks for less food. I hope the Doctor will look for signs of coeliac stuff - Tanaqui it is interesting that you say you are more hungry after gluten, I really don't know anything about that issue.
He does visit the loo reasonably regularly - but I've assumed that is the sheer volume of food in his little body, I think I might have to get involved & have a check!!
He's off for a six-hour gymnastics holiday club tomorrow so better go and get sorted. Thanks for all the advice, you've all given me loads to think about.
Went to the Docs today and found out he is between 26 and 27 kilos and 120cm - which makes him overweight. She spoke to him about it & he said it was always his tummy telling him he's hungry still after a meal & she prescribed him half a teaspoon of Gaviscon after each meal. She thought it might be some kind of acid thing? Either that or she was very cleverly trying to use some kind of placebo effect psychology on him!?
She said a referral may not get him anywhere at the moment (as in they wouldn't be able to do anything). Am going to keep a food diary and try and quietly bring portion sizes down as well as encouraging healthy choices and be more aware of protein balance/try protein heavy breakfasts where poss. Thanks again for all advice, just thought I'd update!
(Oh and in case anyone else reading this for something similar she also said it might be a good idea to try a wheat free week at some point and see if it made any difference. Will have to plan for that one as we've got so much going on but will give it a go)
Thanks for the update, my eldest had reflux as a baby and still eats loads. I'll def keep I in mind if it continues or gets out of hand.
Hope you manage to get it sorted out.
Hope things work out for you, sounds like you've got some good ideas and some good advice.
When I was little my mother was told more than once that she was wrong to restrict what I ate - but I agree that she was quite right as like your son I could eat again immediately after any meal, and would have been seriously overweight if she'd not actively taught me what was "enough". I don't recall ever feeling "I couldn't eat another thing" until my late teens. Interestingly I also had had to cut out wheat/gluten by that stage. I agree too with trying out a high-protein breakfast, I am far less likely to be hungry if I've had a cooked breakfast compared with just carbs.
"Today he ate 2x bowls of cereal, toast & fruit salad with a glass of juice for breakfast and was 'hungry' again in 5 minutes"
So you gave your child sugar, starch, starch, sugar, and sugar for breakfast, then wonder why he gets hungry quickly during the day?
HMMMMM IT IS A MYSTERY FOR THE AGES.
I would expect any child fed that diet to consider themselves constantly hungry for the day. You've spiked his blood sugar so high from the very start that his body produces a lot of insulin to process it, which makes him feel hungry and in need of more sugar re-ups all through the day.
Try starting his day with some eggs -- and not "quorn eggs," which contain barely any fat on purpose. Fat is satiety, and if your child isn't getting "slow burn" foods with plenty of healthy fats during the day, he's not complaining because he has an eating disorder or something. He's complaining because he's hungry and you are feeding him improperly. HTH.
And I'd like to add that this is even MORE true for an active, playful child! My goodness -- if athletes tried to subsist on this kind of diet, even if you let them eat literally all they wanted, they'd also be hungry very quickly. I bet that greek yogurt you spike with two kinds of sugar (honey and grapes) is fat-free or reduced-fat, too.
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