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Talking to 11 yo dd about weight/ over eating.

(73 Posts)
NoonarAgain Tue 30-Jul-13 10:18:44

We are generally a healthy eating family. We love whole foods ( mainly vege) but enjoy cakes etc as a treat.

Dd1 is 11 and has always been a carb junky, wanting the biggest portion/ seconds. She will eat v healthy foods eg brown rice, pulses, soups... That many dc turn their nose up at, but it is still a struggle. She is obsessed with sweets, cake, crisps etc. doesn't get them that often- but s still obsessed!

A big issue is portion size and her having a huge appetite, and being naturally sedentary and wanting to play quietly in her room instead of playing out.

Also, school dinners, parties, grandparents' treats make a massive difference to her weight, which can increase visibly after a week of treats ( we just had 4 bday parties in a week).

I feel we have a good knowledge of nutrition but my dd is getting to the age when she seems to acquire sweets without my knowledge. If she were in a different family with different eating habits, I think she'd be huge sad

She is a very sturdy build and weighs roughly 39 kg ( height 147cm). She is a bit plump but very beautiful and healthy looking. She is not designed to be skinny.

(i also have a very active 9yo dd who is always playing out and eats when she's hungry. She is a naturally tiny).

I honestly feel quite clued up about nutrition etc but am still struggling to stop her gain weight. I have tried to talk to dd about making healthy choices and about portion size. She is going through puberty and unless we're carefully she will be a very overweight teen.

Any advice about how to discuss this issue sensitively? I m worried about the whole body image/ self esteem angle. I have had general chats about junk foods and obesity in modern times and how hard it is for us all to avoid unhealthy foods. I also tell her she's on the border between just right and getting a little bit plump. But it's so hard when she always wants more/ pesters for treats when out.

How do I get her on board with this and deal with it sensitively? She seems to listen for couple of days then slips back into old habits.

Any advice pease?

NoonarAgain Tue 30-Jul-13 10:26:56

Ps I realise that dd is meant to be a strong sturdy build, and am honestly not trying to turn her into a twig! But we cannot buy trousers easily anymore because her thighs are too big sad

SuperiorCat Tue 30-Jul-13 10:29:44

It is difficult isn't it? As a family we all have a tendency to put on weight easily, and I have struggled wiht my weight all my adult life, so I'm very wary that I don't want to give mine a complex.

Rather than confront it head on, I try to get them to be very physically active so that they burn off any excesses, easier to do in the nicer weather than in the winter.

frogwatcher42 Tue 30-Jul-13 10:31:54

My only thoughts would be that 11 is too young to diet or even think about dieting and being conscious of weight. I have seen too many yo yo dieters and screwed up women who started to try to lose weight as young teens. Also anorexia can be started by a youngster suddenly becoming aware that they are overweight.

Do more exercise - force it on her if necessary. She needs it anyway to stay healthy and strong. Get her to join a couple of clubs and walk miles as a family. Bike ride lots - maybe one of the family can develop a 'desire' to learn to jog and get her to join them. No choice.

Wiifitmama Tue 30-Jul-13 10:31:56

I have had very similar issues with my eldest son (now 12). I was obese most of my (and his) life but battled it and overcame it. My mother showered the kids with treats to show her love. He is naturally sedentary and prefers to read. And he is not a slim build naturally.

Here is what I did.

We don't have junk food in the house ever unless it is someone's birthday or Christmas etc. I bake cakes all the time for them but I make them healthier and it is one small piece for snack once a day balanced by fruit snack and general good eating.


frogwatcher42 Tue 30-Jul-13 10:32:34

One thing you could sensibly do though is talk to the grandparents and limit treats there.

Sirzy Tue 30-Jul-13 10:32:48

What exercise does she do?

Could you plan a lot of active things to do as a family over the summer and then try to get her to carry something on?

Wiifitmama Tue 30-Jul-13 10:36:07

Sorry posted too soon

Lots of conversation about balance. A small piece of cake is fine but must be balanced by lots of activity. If he doesn't do the activity, I have to alter the diet to balance that.

No foods are banned but I always talk about balance. My mum continues to treat them, but I allow it once a visit/day, not multiple times.

We talk a lot as a family about what is happening inside the body. The damage sugar does inside. No focus on weight, but on health.

Portion size. We used to use body size comparisons for that. Daddy is much bigger so he has a bigger portion. My son is as tall as me now at 12 and honestly does need adult size portions. But I would use the activity comparison for portion size now. A very sedentary life style needs small portions to match.

NoonarAgain Tue 30-Jul-13 10:39:24

Frog, we never ever use the word diet, but we do talk about healthy eating, portion size, attitude to food. Dd is very bright and emotionally articulate. I can't just keep saying no no no without a bit of a dialogue sad

I am so aware of the anorexia angle and really want to get it right.

I am 5 ft 6 and 9.5 stone myself, but have been this since age 14! I spent many school hols on a diet as I felt big compared to my peers. We had a weigh in in front of boys and girls every new term and it made me so sad

So.... I totally want to protect dd from developing any issues, but does that mean ignoring overeating and letting it happen? So hard!

Thanks to all other posters x

NoonarAgain Tue 30-Jul-13 10:45:39

Being an early developer has given me a distorted idea of my size even know. I just see myself as quite big as I felt so ungainly in my formative years. And had skinny siblings. And I was a glutton! Dd is me smile So maybe she will pass the puppy fat stage by herself...I never worry/ talk about adult weight diets, as I think I suffered in my adolescence and want to protect her. Hence my concern about getting it right.

She loves dance but has given up athletics and swimming. So only does 1 exercise based activity outside of PE each week. I have vowed to get her doing one thing a day at least during the hols eg bike ride, long dog walk, lots of trampoline.

NoonarAgain Tue 30-Jul-13 10:46:15

Wi fit gods advice x

NoonarAgain Tue 30-Jul-13 10:46:33


frogwatcher42 Tue 30-Jul-13 10:52:06

I don't know Noonar as it is different for everybody. I think as parents it is always a risk that we mess up in one way or another and we can't blame ourselves. Only you know how best to deal with your dd.

With my dd I would be very careful about controlling food too much but we have an incredible history of eating disorders going back generations and so i am trying to break some patterns!!!

From a very early age I have not restricted much at all for the dc as I saw two lots of children I babysat for as a young adult, have problems due to restrictions. I cant remember exact details as it was a long while ago but it was something like this. One lot of girls used to steal chocolate or biscuits (I had taken for my night of sitting) out of my bag as they could only have chocolate on sundays so they stole mine as they were obsessed! Another lot of children hid behind the sofas at a party I held and ate cake and biscuits off used plates and off the floor - stuffing it into their mouths as if they were genuinely starving. I took them into the kitchen to get them fresh cake and they confessed that they normally didn't have sweets and treats and the older child (maybe 13 or so) cried and said that she couldn't help taking things that were left by other people. I decided there and then that if I had kids I would be as relaxed about it as I can so I don't really restrict my dc and to be honest they regulate themselves. However, I don't pretend that it is necessarily due to my dc having a free rein that they self regulate - it may be a personality thing too.

I still think exercise is the way to go, along with some very general education around food (but it sounds as if she knows it anyway and is choosing to ignore it - in which case I think forcing the issue could be more damaging than helpful). If she got fitter and was busier I think you would find that food is less of an issue anyway. In general the more overweight you get, and the less fit you get, the more you crave food particularly sweet things or carbohydrates in my experience. If you are fit and healthy you tend to want less food and healthy food. This is just my experience but seems to ring true.

Notonaschoolnight Tue 30-Jul-13 10:53:33

I have similar troubles with my daughter probs about the same build but also SEN so trying to get her to understand that grabbing the Nutella and dolloping half the jar onto her fruit and fibre means its no longer healthy is near impossible.

As a sideline though what really gets my goat is we have to be like this because the size of girls clothes is so much narrower than boys and that really pisses me off. DD went on an outward bound course recently so I bought a load of cheap clothes from Asda I struggled with sizes so for some hoodies I ordered a mixture of boy and girls and I couldn't believe how much narrower the girls ones were but its the same everywhere with jeans T-shirts etc

frogwatcher42 Tue 30-Jul-13 10:56:44

Noonar - this is not a critiscism at all as I don't pretend to be an expert. But I wouldn't think one exercise activity a day is anywhere near enough for an 11 year old. I think they should be pretty active for a good few hours (not supervised activity but shooting hoops, trampolining, playing chase, skipping, handstands, cartwheels etc ) for a few hours with perhaps a bike ride or walk as a specific supervised activity. That is what mine do pretty much most days and they range from older to younger than 11.

Wiifitmama Tue 30-Jul-13 10:57:39

I think of it this an adult, we have to balance what we eat against how physically active we are. I am not talking weight or diets. Very few adults (well, I actually know a couple of people with freakishly fast metabolisms that this doesn't apply to) can eat whatever they want, remain inactive and stay healthy. Our bodies aren't designed that way. So focusing on the energy output (exercise) takes the focus of potentially harmful ideas. But it has to be done alongside portion control.

Wiifitmama Tue 30-Jul-13 11:00:23

Two other things I did with my son:

Talking about the difference between wanting a second portion because it was yummy (and acknowledging that I understood his want) and needing it because he was hungry. We all talk about this at dinner so the focus is not just on him. My dh can be greedy too!

We all have pedometers. It is eye opening how little you can move in the day. Adults should be doing 10000 steps a day. Kids 12000. That does not happen unless they get up and move.

frogwatcher42 Tue 30-Jul-13 11:02:36

Wiifitmama - I second the pedometer thing. We did that and not one of us was achieving the recommended number of steps. It was shocking.

We made some changes such as parking at the opposite side of the supermarket car park, walking anywhere within a mile etc and I think we mostly now achieve it except dh who has less time.

Wiifitmama Tue 30-Jul-13 11:05:24

Yep. When I first got one, I was averaging 3000 steps a day!

We have no car (in London) so walk as much as possible. We walk a mile each way to our swimming, choose to walk 1.2 miles to the nearest overground stop rather than take the tube (2 min walk) and change. The kids check theirs throughout the day and realise they haven't done enough. They are not obsessive and often don't make the 12000 steps but it makes them aware which is important.

FCEK Tue 30-Jul-13 11:08:26

Try to introduce exercise sneakily - get a trampoline, have a family bike ride, give her responsibility for walking the dog if you have one, get the kids washing the car for pocket money..,

No more seconds or sweets in the house either.

NoonarAgain Tue 30-Jul-13 11:08:45

Hi frog smile I agree with you re exercise. The dog walk would be a one hour ramble in steep countryside or with chasing games in the woods. I don't just mean round the block smile

This week she is doing dance workshop all week.

But... Dd 2 will come back from an outing (eg this weekend, picnic on beach with swimming in sea and clambering over rocks) and say 'I'm off out to play on bike/ trampoline/ cartwheels). But dd1 doesn't do that! She will play with her dolls house or read. So.... The one activity is the one that I sort of timetable for her.

It's a shame we can't mooch in our home/ garden and them both n chose to be active.

I do find it a bit annoying to have to factor in exercise to offset food, ESP as I am not sporty myself ( but am active/ fit). I would rather go to a tea shop and museum and so would dd1!

frogwatcher42 Tue 30-Jul-13 11:09:39

My kids did get obsessed for a while with the pedometers and had them on school days and got permission to run round the field several times at breaks to get their numbers up!!! I think the teachers found it amusing.

Shockingly though - it did take the running round the field several times to reach their goal. We travel to school on transport and they just wouldn't have achieved the required number of steps on school days without it.

They don't wear them now (only now and then) but it did make an enormous difference thinking about it. My 9 year old regularly says 'just got to do my steps' if we are hanging around, and runs back and forth or round and round depending on where we are so if obviously conscious of the need and difficulty in achieving it.

2much2young Tue 30-Jul-13 11:10:04

dancing? not as in organised classes but as in at home with a Wii program (sorry I am clueless at to what they are called as don't own a wii)

frogwatcher42 Tue 30-Jul-13 11:11:00

Im with you noonar - me too. It is a pain isnt it.

I do think some people are simply more active than others - but maybe some need to be forced.

Its hard.

NoonarAgain Tue 30-Jul-13 11:11:50

Wow what good advice! I am going to get us a pedometer!

she loves walking into the village alone so I could give her a daily errand to do. That would be 40 mins walk for a start.

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