DD 7 "over eating"(19 Posts)
Please help as I am really troubled by this and don't know how to address it. And am concerned that anything I do will make more of an issue of it.
DD 7 seems to have a 'fixation' with food. I don't know if that is the right word but am not sure what else to call it.
Firstly, she is very tall for her age (tallest in her school year) so recognise she will obviously need a certain amount for her growing body.
Secondly to say she enjoys all sorts of food (she's not a fussy eater I mean) and she loves all sorts of veg, fruit, fish etc.
That said I am really troubled by her approach to food and the amount she eats or wants to eat.
So during the week she has school lunches (and unfortunately they serve pizza and chips and bread) so I have little input into what she has and how much (packed lunch is not an option)
After school she has a healthy meal and some sort of pudding (jelly and fruit/ yoghurt/ fruit salad) so generally a balanced diet.
It's outside of that. If she goes to a party, and others have a couple of slices of pizza (or sandwiches or whatever) then my DD would eat 10. And be the last to leave the table. If we go on a picnic with friends she'll look at the food laid out and take two of absolutely everything, pile her plate high and then eat it in a really ungainly manner - like she can't wait to get it in her mouth it's hard to describe. If we go to someone else's house she will have as much as she possibly can (say 3 portions of pudding). I am finding this hard to write as its making me sad and I am not sure I am explaining the problem well enough. Sometimes she will eat something on her plate and I will say "how was the salmon" and she'll look at me blankly - she will have eaten it so quickly she won't have actually registered eating it.
We have just come back from holiday where we were at one of those all inclusive resorts and every meal was a buffet. Every single meal time she would pile her plate high with as much as she possibly could and then go back for more and more and more. She would eat more than me or my partner would.
She obsesses about treats and says that all her friends get more than she does. There is a local bakery for example and she says her friends get to go after school and she doesn't. I didn't want it to become an issue so said she could have something once a week - but that doesn't seem to be enough for her. What she doesn't notice is the amount she eats. Her friends come over for tea, eat a certain amount and then stop. But she doesn't ever have an 'off' or 'I am full' switch.
Has anyone been through this or have advice? She has put on a lot of weight and started to get comments from friends which have upset her.
I am trying hard to not associate food as 'getting fat' more that healthy food means nice hair, teeth, etc. (Ie I never say don't eat that you'll get fat)
I don't reward good behaviour with 'treats' ie I don't use food as a reward.
But it's getting worse. She has taken to wiping the plate with her fingers and licking them at the end of a meal (which I have been very stern about - am really strict on table manners) but it's like she just wants to devour food.
She does lots of exercise - cycling, swimming, tennis, dance but now says things like "my thighs are fat" which makes me really sad. She gave up gymnastics because she didn't like the way her body looked in a leotard.
Sorry this is a long post and I am not sure I have articulated the issue as well as I would like to. Any experience in this area would be welcome as I don't want food to become an emotional issue.
Have you taken her to see the GP and get her height/weight taken to see if she is actually overweight and how much by? (Obviously don't share this information with your daughter).
Aside from that physical activity is great, but it really is diet that makes the difference. I would try and encourage her to eat slowly (and I assume you do this anyway, but just in case) make sure there are no distractions whilst eating, eg TV, tablet etc.
Other options you could try would include upping her protein levels to help her fill fuller for longer, e.g. scrambled eggs for breakfast, protein like meat/fish with veg for evening meal. Packed lunches that are high in protein would help, but understand this may not be an option - is that due to time or money? If either I know some websites that would help.
Good luck, it sounds difficult, but first stop would definitely be your GP.
Many thanks for this.
I hadn't thought of taking her to gp - how would I do that without making an issue of it to her? Am aware her food habits already become an issue (because I kept talking to her about it on holiday) so not sure how I would take her to be weighed without her realising why.
That said I am not going to keep talking to her about if going forwards because it's not helping it's just making more of an issue of it.
She also doesn't drink enough so sometimes I think she feels 'hungry' when she is actually thirsty.
But this isn't a hunger issue - it's a desire in her part to want to eat as much as she can and it's upsetting to watch.
Packed lunch not an option as the school want the children to all eat a hot meal together. So if I pushed for it she would feel left out which won't help. That said I am trying to get them to change their menu which is full of white bread / pizza and chips.
She is age 7, but in order for clothes to fit her waist I have to buy age 13-14. Obviously then have the issue of clothes being too long / not good fit in rest of body. As I say she's talk anyway, but not as tall as the average 13-14 year old.
I lie awake thinking about this at night trying to work out how I can help her without starting a massive body image issue. It's so upsetting.
No advice but I am concerned about DDs friend who is similar. She takes no exercise and had put a lot of weight on in the last year.
Her mother seems proud of the huge amount of food she can eat but to me her behaviour isn't normal, she's fixated on eating.
Although she will eat ANYTHING (I mean anything) the food she is given is not good. She likes to gorge herself and is allowed to.
She does sound quite over weight. Can you pitch it as a 'check up' at the doctors and have them weigh her having briefed them first about the compulsion to eat issue.
It does sound like more than ordinary greediness. Do you think there might be hormonal or neurological issues going on?
If not, and it is just a bad habit I don't see why you shouldn't tell her kindly but frankly that she is overweight and that it's not healthy for her. Be strict with portions-I wouldn't allow my children to pile their plates like that at every meal on holiday or at a party. If they complain of being hungry after a substantial meal they can have extra veg or plain yoghurt.
Good luck. It sounds very difficult
Why don't you want to associate excess food with getting fat? I wouldn't say 'if you eat chocolate you'll get fat' but I would definitely tell her that too much food could make her fat. I've given mine a basic scientific explanation of how our body stores food it doesn't need and at 7 she should understand this.
OP my parents say I was like this as a child and I definitely remember being a bit of a bottomless pit too! I believe I have suffered with depression since very young and I believe i comfort ate, is there anything else going on at home or school that's triggered this possibly?
Please don't stress too much for now, you are doing the right thing by addressing it and being sensitive to her feelings. My parents just user to tell me that I was fat!
To reassure you, I was always very tall for my age as a child, always wore clothes sizes a bit bigger than my age. I stopped growing around age 14 and am actually quite short I guess at 5'4in, lost excess weight and have had maybe one episode of being actually overweight during adulthood (during a bout of severe depression.) other than that i wear a size 10 and weigh about 9st 7lbs so well within healthy BMI range so its not necessarily a habit for life.
If I've understood correctly, you've described the problem as a lack of satiety in a 7 year old that is tall for her age, wears sizes 13-14, and who has noticed her shape (not wanting to wear a leotard and having 'fat thighs'). If your description is correct the one thing you haven't mentioned is whether you think she is actually overweight, although you've inferred it.
You need assistance here and I agree with others that the GP would be good. You don't need to take her with you for the first appointment, but take her height and weight with you and the little red book so they have something about her past location on centiles. You can measure the whole family so she doesn't feel singled out.
You can also try talking to the school to put a limit on the number of times she can load her plate. (My mother did this when I was at primary school because she couldn't understand why I was gaining weight - I always went up for seconds - of everything.) Also the teachers supervising lunch can help her to make better choices rather than the refined sugar and carb fest you mentioned earlier which will make you feel hungry quite soon afterwards.
When you go to the GP consider what the other members of the family are like with weight or portion sizes etc., and an idea of the volume of food she consumes and how frequently. Te reaction to the salmon question speaks volumes. Perhaps if she slowed down her eating it would give her brain a chance to catch up with her stomach so she will learn again to feel full.
Keeping my fingers crossed for you. 🤗 (I always worry this emoticon may be taken as a fondle. I do mean it as a hug!)
Yes, as others say you could measure/weigh everyone and take these to the GP, or come at it from the view that she is obviously worried about her weight and you are going to the doctor together to make sure 'we can be the healthiest we can be'. My son is 7 (and is on the underweight side) but his best friend is overweight and seems like your daughter with no 'off switch' - when he's here he asks for food constantly and once ate my husband's fish fingers after eating his own meal as they were left on the side for him coming in from work! He is lovely though, and on his Mum's guidance I simply distract/offer fruit as appropriate. He is also under a dietitian which has helped him greatly and he looks so much healthier now - his parents say the support has been a great help in knowing 'the right things to do/say' without worrying about giving him a complex. It's worth a trip though, these things are best tackled sooner, and I definitely think upping her water intake and offering more high protein meals/snacks would benefit her. Good luck OP.
Thank you so much to all those who responded. I have found your feedback really constructive.
In truth I have avoided posting this issue on here for at least 8 months because I was worried I would get unhelpful advice and be told I shouldn't talk to my young daughter about 'weight'.
Upping protein is a really good shout and I'll do that. As it goes she hates cereal and toast anyway and at breakfast only likes melon/ pomegranate or eggs. Any other suggestions helpful.
In answer to some of the questions
Yes to be honest i do think she is overweight. I can tell she is. Her body shape suddenly looks uncomfortable for her. She is very active and I can tell it affects her enjoyment of clubs and clothes don't fit well. She is tall - I am 5'10, my mum is 6ft and her dad is 6.4" but she is now out of proportion. Suddenly an enormous belly and "fatty breasts" have appeared (not sure of the right term for that!?)
And in response to "I wouldn't let my child pile their plate at parties or at a buffet" - I completely agree with the sentiment but when it happens to you it's complicated. I would have merrily written your post 2 years ago bee are an active and healthy family.
She is at an age where i don't attend the parties myself. So I arrive to see her still at the table when everyone else is playing or I have a mum jokingly telling me she was the last to leave. I have seen her do it at her own birthday party which doesn't feel the right occasion to get into telling her off.
The holiday buffet was a total nightmare and we were there 2 weeks. Bear in mind I hate those things. Such gross wastage - families pilling their plates with donuts cakes and croissants and then just leaving huge amounts to go in the bin. Even having donuts on offer at breakfast is a nightmare with children. Anyone who has done one of these will sympathise. So OF COURSE I didn't like her piling up her plate but I also understood the excitement that the children loved getting their own food. She would come back to the table saying "this is healthy I have salad" and some lettuce would be buried under mayo and other stuff that wasn't. It meant every single meal time became a lengthy and stressful discussion about what was and wasn't healthy and she's too going to understand some of it. The eldest is a teenager and my Ss which made it all the more complicated as I have no say in what he eats. And our youngest is 3 and I was carting her round to find spaghetti And broccoli. So in short. Yes I would have absolutely said I would never let my child do that - I until it happens to you and every meal time feels like a disaster.
The one thing I have really taken away from your collective feedback which is really useful is to talk to her about food making you fat!! I have never used the word fat not ever. I have presumed it's something in these times we don't say to our daughters for fear of body image crisis starting early. But those who have said it are right. It's a fact and a biological one. And one she will understand. I just didn't want her counting calories at 7 but that's not the same thing is it. I am going to talk to her about tonight about the cause and effect. She is also a super bright girl and so will devour knowledge of the digestive system etc so there's an obvious way now for me to talk to her about it.
Sorry if this doesn't make much sense I have 3 children running around. But I plan to weight my DD tonight and measure her height and have a very frank discussion about food, fat and portion sizes.
Thanks all. Not sure I would have got to such an "obvious" conclusion on my own because I have been so distracted by the sadness of seeing her like this.
Many thanks again
One other thing about the parties - maybe mention sensitivity and discretely to the host about not letting her load her plate repeatedly. Although you might be embarrassed for your daughter I actually found it really helpful when son's friend's parents asked me to do this for their son at my son's party. He ate really quickly then went for another plate and then when he went for another (others were still only on first plate) I distracted him with a 'special job's helping me put the candles on the cake/switch lights off and start song. I then cleared all food away while they all had cake. Most parents are very understanding and will want to help you and your daughter.
Oh, and another thing may be to limit fruit in the morning as they can lead to a sugar spike. Veg sticks are far better for blood sugar and with hummus etc make a good snack. Best of luck, it seems to be really playing on your mind. Glad you have a plan for moving forward.
OP I am in exactly the same situation. DD1, also 7, is an eating machine! She can easily polish off a dinner as big as mine! She is also by far the tallest in her school year & has been since nursery school! Though I have noticed that she will eat more before a growth spurt.
Sorry op if my 'I wouldn't let my children ...' post came across as judge/smug-I realised reading it back that I could have phrased it better-really am sorry. I know it's not easy. I have a 7 year old and although she doesn't eat to excess she is incredibly greedy around sweets so I get the party embarrassment / not being there thing.
Re the all inclusive-definitely sounds hard! I've never been on one as I know I would struggle to control myself!!
A couple of tips:
1 - get her to have a pint of water before she eats.
2 - use a smaller plate so there looks more on her plate
3 - at 7, I would be saying "you can pick any 6 things from the buffet" rather than expecting her to self-regulate
My friend's mum used to encourage her to chew everything 25 times too...
I'm glad you're finding this useful OP, but I'd be a little cautious still about implementing things before you get some professional advice. True enough about all the posts, but your daughter is 7, not an adult. It might be a little difficult to back track on some advice you give her, especially if she's bright, she'll remember what you said and may hold you to task on it! However, she might enjoy the first law of thermodynamics . X
Has she over heard the host making these comments?
I'm wondering if she has heard comments hence her thinking she is fat.
She might be addicted to sugar - it is very addictive and a lot of processed food has it hidden in (ironically to counter the change in taste for removing salt). Unfortunately people don't realise that processed sugar is pretty dire stuff because it is addictive. Our bodies get a high from the stuff and for some that is a disaster.
I would get her eating protein for every breakfast. Get her drinking a lot more water. No processed foods at home if you can help it.
And up her exercise. How much does she do exactly?
My daughter is similar - she is just about to turn 9 and can easily eat an adult meal. She is tall for her age and wears about 11-12 clothes. She has been this way since birth - she would guzzle her milk! She was very chubby up to about age 6 and has slimmed down slightly but is still 'stocky' I always wonder how to phrase it as don't want to start any complexes.
Do you eat all together as a family and seated at the table or does your DD eat alone and/or in front of tv, book, iPad, ....?
Some kids have a huge appetite and you could maybe try to fill this appetite with soup (minestrone, carrot-pumpkin , ....) salads (tomatoes and onion, granted carrots, fennel with oranges, ...) and more basic dishes, like a nice and big turkey breast either cooked in the oven coated with herbs or plain in a pan. Mussels are very satisfying, you have a huge casserole in front of you . The same with clams, but these are more expensive.
Create a menu together for the week. Go with her at the farmers market or fruit and veg shop and do the shopping with her and prepare the food as a team. Turn her fixation with food towards cooking.
Try to put the minimum amount of time at the table to 20 min. You sit all together, and chat while eating, with the TV and radio off. Invite her to slow down. Why not watch some of the sugar movies you find on Youtube so she realises basic concepts about eating healthy.
It is not easy, but there are ways to satisfy her appetite. 4 whole sliced cucumber with crumbled feta, olives and cherry tomatoes are very filling. How body responds differently to specific food. You can eat 500 calories of crisps in 4 minutes. To eat circa 500 calories of tomatoes salad with boiled egg whites you would need almost an hour (2 kgs tomatoes = 360 calories + 68 calories in 4 large egg whites + olive oil) . If she needs the volume switch the food you serve her.
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