12 year old girl addicted to sugar?(38 Posts)
I don't know what else to do, I wondered whether anyone else has any experience of how to handle it.
For a long time we have noticed our daughter is obsessive about sugar and we have tried to educate and teach about making the right food choices. Unfortunately it just isn't working. I don't want to have to stop buying it therefore restricting access to it, because when she is on her own in the real world, she needs to make the choices for herself.
She will try to put tea spoons full of sugar on cereal, would drink hot chocolate all day long if we didn't try and say she should only have one a day. We have had to say pocket money is not allowed to be spent on sweets as she will spend all of it at the sweet shop.
On a daily basis she will have:
Breakfast - cereal
School lunch box - sandwich with two pieces of bread, packet of crisps, cereal bar, fruit flakes and a yoghurt (frube like thing).
After school snack when she comes in which is a two finger kit Kat or something of a similar size then tea with the family, followed by a yoghurt and if she can get away with it a couple of digestives with her yoghurt.
Does this sound a normal amount of food? I think it sounds plenty. I have just had an email from the school to say I owe them money, she has been buying stuff every day from the school canteen on her dinner card - a sausage roll every day sometimes accompanied by a waffle or cookies. I have found a stash of wrappers in her room where she has been taking two kitkats per day and eating them both, and to top it off she said yesterday could she give a packet of chocolate buttons to her friend at school in a Christmas card, we said yes, she then went upstairs and snaffled them instead - so lying about an act of kindness to eat more chocolate :-( Now she has been found out, she claims she was hungry.
I have toyed with taking her to the doctors to have some bloods taken to check whether there is a medical problem?
I am embarrassed to say I have today resorted to shouting and saying how disappointed i am, have taken her phone off her as punishment for lying and have threatened that I won't be buying any more sugar.
She just doesn't seem to have an off switch and would honestly just keep going. I think my mum has noticed a problem - when we went out for a coffee one day, she started trying to add sugar to hot chocolate, I said she didn't need to add sugar to a drink with whippy cream and marshmallows on the top, she had a slice of cake (so did I), and I had scraped a little of the cream off the cake as it was a bit rich, she then asked if she could eat the bit I had scraped off having just downed her own cake and hot chocolate. Maybe as I am more conscious of it, I am getting paranoid.
You hear people with eating disorders etc saying about horrible experiences when they were younger, being called fat etc, and I don't want to harp on about it too much for fear of causing some pyschologocal harm, but it is becoming a real bone of contention :-(
Any ideas would be greatly appreciated
I think I maybe should have posted this in teenagers, could somebody move it for me please
No advice really but my dd is the same. We have a discount shop across the road and she gets cheap sweets from there ( has stolen money to do this) had eaten icing sugar from the box on a few occasions. I do t keep any junk in house anymore. I've bought 1l tub ice cream on Sunday lunchtime to have after dinner and she had eaten it by then in secret
She's v overweight. ( though so am I but not to same extent and mostly due to a medical issue) All our meals at home are healthy ( slimming world but avoiding sweeteners) but she's still gaining
Tbh, packed lunch looks v sugary too. Iirc frubes are about 1/5 or more of child rda? Fruit flakes and cereal bars also v high. For she's also getting a cookie she could be exceeding rda in lunchtime alone.
I installed my fitness pal on her phone so she could track her sugar consumption but she didn't like what it told her so she didn't really learn from it- just stopped using it.
Might be worth a try for your dd?
It does sound like she is hungry. However she may also just be someone whose brain reward centres really light up when she has sugar - so you need to help her learn to self-limit.
I would make a deal about certain foods she can have more of when hungry, and that you don't want her to eat in secret - you will have to say yes of offer an alternative when she says she is hungry though. If she has had plenty and is still asking, then something like a hot drink, some minty chewing gum or brushing her teeth can help stop cravings. However, I would also relax about buying snacks, and give guidelines rather than rigid rules. remember teenagers calorie requirements are higher than grown womens.
Do perhaps apologise for shouting, as it was not helpful.
Give her information about how more sugar leads to more cravings.
If she is genuinely craving all the time, maybe check with the doctor, but allow more food first, she might just be hungry.
I was like this at 12. I ate in secret and binged on whatever junk I could get my hands on. I had low self esteem and was pretty unhappy.
Please don't shout at your dd about it. Talk to her and try to get to the bottom of why she's doing it. I wish I'd been able to talk to my mum about it.
The first thought that springs to mind is there is an awful lot of quick-release carbohydrates there and not much protein. So even without the sweets from the sweet-shop her sugars may be swinging up and down, and she will certainly feel hungry again quite soon. You don't mention what the family tea is like: are we talking meat and two veg?
The thing that seems particularly unsatisfactory here is the after-school snack. Going by my own youngsters, she will be ravenous by this time so you should be looking at something more food-like and less high in sugar. A wholemeal roll with cheese or ham; unsweetened porridge; plain yoghurt with sliced banana (yes, there is sugar in the banana but it's also filling and full of nutrients). Also have a look at her breakfast cereal: is that full of sugar and is it enough to fill her up?
You want to give her the message that KitKats and similar are very occasional things, not part of an everyday diet, so stop keeping them in the house unless for a special occasion. I would also say the same about crisps: imo we would be much better of as a society if they could be relegated back to their old status of party food, something you go and buy specially for a special occasion.
If she likes the sweetness of things could you try and make some snacks with some sugar substitutes in like Stevia drops?
I agree with cory. Quick release carbs make blood sugar spike then drop. She needs slow release carbs. And more protein. Much more protein.
"Little Sugar Addict" book explains it all.......
I think the problem is you have villanised sugar. There is no such thing as sugar addiction, it came out of a dodgy book based on dodgy science.
If she is 12 she is growing at an alarming rate and needs more food.
if,you don't want your DD to,eat sugar, then quit buying the sugary foods.
I find when I eat cakes, I tend to,crave them more. If I cut them out, after a while, I,don't seem,to need them.
Is she overweight? Some teens seem to need to eat consatantly, others don't.
Buy the best quality fruit can afford as she is more likely to eat it then.
Is she bulimic? Ie, stuff her face then secretly being sick,afterwards?
Start making her healthy pack lunches etc.
Sorry,,lots,of random thoughts in my post.
My DD is 12 and behaving similarly - lots of white carbs, chocolate, sweets, crisps. The occasional bit of fruit and some vegetables. Very picky eater and constantly hungry.
She's as thin as a rake and has grown quite a lot taller in the last 3 months - a good 3 or 4 inches. She also walks 4 miles each day to and from school, along with PE at school, which will obviously impact on her appetite.
I'd like her to eat a bit more protein and cut back on the processed junk a bit, but I'm trying very hard not to demonise food. I hope it's just a phase.
You should rethink her diet completely imo - not enough protein eg chicken/cheese/ meat etc or good carbs e.g. Porridge so she probably is hungry - this leads to filling up on junk. Her packed lunch needs to be much more filling - stop buying kitkats, frubes etc
I think she has far too much sugar. Those things she eats with lunch and as snacks surely you are buying?
Why are you buying kitkats and fruit flakes and frubes and cereal bars for a 12 year old lunch and snacks? They are party foods not lunch.
I think most things on list wouldn't actually fill her up so she probably is hungry still.
Breakfast - ditch sugary cereals. Just don't buy any. Have porridge, toast, eggs, fruits, Greek yogurt, cheese and similar on offer only. Some boiled eggs and toast or porridge and banana will fill her more and less or natural sugars only
Lunch - sandwich is fine, but get her to add more filling so it's higher protein. Then just fruit,raw veg, houmous dip, cheese cubes as any extra, or add another sandwich.
Snack - shouldn't need so many but again just fruit/ veg, crumpet, cheese, soup or similar if starving after school. So she eats if hungry but not because it's there
Dinner - regular meal
You should be able to have sweets and chocolate around but not eaten at every meal
We struggled with our daughter on this, from an early age (from being a toddler) did not seem to have an off-button, it got much worse as a teenager. It's very difficult to not make an issue of it when you are so worried. We had the same issue about sweet food being hidden and over-eaten. We stopped buying all cakes, sweets, biscuits etc, placed emphasis on healthy food. We encouraged sports, clubs, paid for all sorts of exercise kit and encouraged her as much as possible to exercise. We also tried to model good eating. But all this seemed to do was make more of an issue of it - to the extent that as an older teenager she received CAMHs support and told them that I had emotionally abused her and prevented her from eating nice food. She became quite overweight from the age of 11 and a decade later is still overweight with a lot of food issues.
There's very little medical support available, other than 'stop eating it'. I come from a long line of addictive personalities and I think she mirrors a number of family members who consume large amounts of sweet and fried foods, and/or drink to excess or gamble. So in my experience there's something inherited going on, as well as self esteem issues. I've felt with my daughter that she can't help it. It became a lot harder once she went to secondary school because of having more freedom to eat rubbish, pay from part time jobs etc often seemed to disappear and then the bin would overflow from sweet and biscuit wrappers.
People who haven't experienced it can be very judgy and don't look beyond the behaviour or body shape to what's going on underneath. But also she seems to be ruled by food.
Good luck OP, I know how worrying it can be.
Is she eating the stuff from school on top of her packed lunch or as well? Packed lunch isn't that healthy, sounds a bit sugary and bread everyday isn't great. I would be very pissed off with school for allow her a tab without letting you know. Is she getting enough protein?
Surely there are ways of not filling the house with sugar and sweets that don't involve demonising foods? Or are we demonising every single thing we don't buy every week? (I seem to have demonised pork this week. And chicken the week before). Can't you just pass it off as a practical thing/boring everyday decision: "we thought we've been having a lot of chocolate lately so I didn't get as many this week, I thought we'd try this instead, I thought it might be more filling/better for us/cheaper/more economical/a change"? Or even not explain it at all?
We don't make a big thing about healthy eating, but I don't feel obliged to buy crisps every week either. Ds has moaned about our boring food for 10 years but he has also developed a general idea of what everyday food-as-fuel looks like and that every day doesn't have to be a party.
The idea I have tried to promote is not that crisps and snacks are evil, but that they are foods for special occasions and that he shouldn't be expecting to have them every day any more than he should expect Christmas presents or birthday treats every day.
Her blood sugar levels will be all over the place. Have you read up about it? Do you understand the long term damage it is doing?
It looks like she has a very poor diet. She needs more protein and veg to help get over the sugar cravings. If she wants sugar, let her have fruit instead.
In your shoes I'd make her a proper breakfast - eggs or beans with something. Confiscate her school food card and put a cheese or ham (protein) sandwich, nuts, fruit, salted popcorn, Greek yogurt with fresh berries (berries are amazingly low in sugar but offer good sweetness), veg sticks, oat crackers. If she wants something sweet later in the day aim for a pudding like apple crumble or rice pudding or fruit scones. Have a set sweet day. So on Mondays and Fridays she can have one thing. Let her go out to the shops and buy the sweet on the day she's due to eat it.
Shouting isn't the answer. Leaving all the sweet stuff easily accessible is not the answer. She's like an alcoholic but addicted to sugar.
Maybe you should look at your own diet. Is it as healthy as it could be? Is it balanced? Can you concentrate on getting healthier yourself and pulling the whole family along with you?
Does she have free access to healthy or healthy-ish food - fruit, crumpets, peanut butter, etc?
My 12 year old DD is like this. It's very hard to not make an issue out of it when it is worrying.
Went to get some baking stuff out last week and discovered that all the sugar cake decorations and sprinkles had disappeared. She's taken sweets out the kitchen cupboard and even eaten (over a short period of time) a full bottle of children's vitamins that were sweet.
It's hard to police. I've had to hide the sweets we have (I don't buy them in bulk in but people tend to give us boxes of celebrations etc). I recently discovered that she's been going downstairs during the night and raiding the sweet stuff so have had to put a contact alarm on her bedroom door that alerts me if she comes out of her room. It feels like an awful thing to do but I was at my wits' end.
Sounds like she's not getting enough at mealtimes and is trying to top up with the most available substitute.
I may be projecting, my mother has always had a minuscule appetite, and really could not compute how much actual food a growing teen needed. I inhaled a tonne of sweet crap in my teens just trying to keep up with my appetite. I have an OK relationship with food now so it's not a total disaster but I think if try offering much bigger portions of more satisfying foods at mealtimes, and filling snacks.
I agree. Her lunch is very empty calorie.
Have you ever been to mc Donald's, eaten a huge meal and been hungry 2 hours later? It's just like that. Empty foods that don't give your body what it needs.
My suggestions are:
A fuller cereal. My Ds eats the chocolate weetabix minis. Ok not the best but better than the frosted flakes he was eating!
Fruit/veg sticks for snack.
Wrap/roll with meat and salad for lunch with raisins/ banana and something she'd like like crisps.
Then when she gets home cheese or beans on toast and a later meal of meat, rice/pasta and veg.
My Ds has recently started a new school in year 8 with a good walk each way and he was very hungry all of a sudden. I had to adapt his diet as well as he was eating quick release foods which weren't keeping him going through all he was doing.
My dd, 13 yrs, certainly seems to be very fond of sweet things atm but she is quite thin and still growing like a weed.
Unless I have missed it, you don't mention your daughter's weight op? Is she within the normal spectrum for her age? Does she do any exercise?
I have no medical knowledge, but I understand that around 12 yrs is one of the times of fastest growth rates. It sounds to me like she just may be hungry. Is she eating enough 'real' food during meals?
Obviously, your dd's diet isn't ideal but I don't personally think there is anything wrong with a growing teenager eating bread every day (as long as its proper bread).
I think you could achieve a lot by just making a few consistent changes. Fwiw, what I have done is always made sure that I have a healthy snack for dd when she gets home from school such as: banana and kiwi fruit salad, muffin with melted cheese and cress on, home made lentil soup type of thing, home made smoothie, pancakes with apple compote - sometimes even flap jacks or home made cakes of some sort - that sort of thing. Not health food but home made. This is time consuming though and I am lucky to be around when she gets in.
Secondly, although she has a sandwich for lunch, its on good brown bread and is accompanied by fruit and a few veg sticks, grapes etc.
Thirdly, we sit down together for a proper dinner together at night (we have veggie dishes two nights a week and fish at least once a week) and I don't allow sweets between the after school snack and dinner. I do let her eat a biscuit or a bit of chocolate after dinner though if she wants it.
Breakfasts are difficult because she leaves for school very early and she isn't v hungry so I've just bought the healthiest, most sugar-free cereal I can find and refuse to have any other varieties in the house, but have given up on doing anything more elaborate than that.
Another thing that might help is encouraging your daughter to bake and cook with you. Buy a few good children's cook books perhaps (there are some really good ones about) and do some batch cooking together perhaps or make some healthy treats for her lunch box? It might be an easier way of confronting eating issues than discussing it directly?
Good luck with it op.
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