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fast metabolism and trying to get food down a hyperactive 7 year old boy

(13 Posts)
clangermum Tue 26-Jul-11 11:13:31

ds has a very fast metabolism and if he doesn't eat enough we get huge tantrums. We do mineral supplements (tested weekly) and omegas, and lay off junk food as much as is possible. Our problem is that although he loves food, he's often too distracted to eat properly. School is a nightmare - he'd rather be out playing than eating lunch, even if I pack his lunchbox with stuff we've agreed on (won't even contemplate school dinners, more's the pity). End result is a lot of bad afternoons. He doesn't qualify for any help at school - lots of issues going on but none severe enough to tick the right boxes, and no clear diagnosis. He just has an IEP. I've threatened him with asking the school to get him sitting elsewhere to eat his lunch and monitor how much he eats, but really don't want to enforce this as he hates being singled out as 'different.' He was adopted after early neglect - lots of emotional issues going on. Feeding early on would have been erratic but he seems to be OK with having food given to him - I don't think there are emotional issues around food itself anymore, just a high level of distraction. But he's not quite severe enough to be considered ADHD or ADD (I have another child with that and it feels very different).

Anyway, if anyone else has these foodie issues, could you give me some tips? Are there any particular foods you've found where you get high/good energy release? He likes sweet things and rather than banish them we've looked at slow release home baked stuff, like banana bread, which he likes. He likes fruit but doesn't have the patience often to eat a whole piece, so we cut up segments in tupperware. I'm looking into more low GI foods. If he could just slow down...

We try to manage a hot breakfast most days - scrambled eggs on toast etc, which helps. A couple of times we've had him home for lunch (not easily do-able, and quite unusual these days for school children) and I've been amazed at how much he packs away when relaxed and without distractions, versus what he'll eat from his lunchbox. It always makes a difference to the type of afternoon he then has at school. It's not a long term solution for lots of reasons, but did prove to us the food/mind connection.

Any tips appreciated.

EllenJaneisnotmyname Tue 26-Jul-11 16:17:01

Could a small amount of lunchtime supervision be added to his IEP? I know you say he doesn't want singling out but if it could be a daily task for a lunchtime supervisor to check he's eaten half his sandwiches or something. I can't see how else you could do it, whatever tasty, tempting morsels you put in his lunchbox, playtime is more important. Either that or a huge, slow release breakfast to last him until 3? (Doesn't sound very healthy!)

clangermum Tue 26-Jul-11 18:45:38

Yes I'm coming round to thinking asking someone to keep an eye on him would be the happy medium. I'm also using the summer holidays to try out new foods so that I can hopefully always come up with something tempting. Even at home it's a struggle sometimes if he can hear children playing outside or his sister is distracting him..they often argue at mealtimes and I've given up asking them to eat in silence, so tonight I took the opposite tack and we had a made up game of family questions where we took turns. He was so engrossed he ate his tea almost without noticing! Usually it's like pulling teeth. I really hope I'm not still doing the old 'just another mouthful' routine when he's 16!

EllenJaneisnotmyname Tue 26-Jul-11 18:57:59

Ha! My DS has Complan 4 times a week to stop him losing weight, because he is so disinterested in healthy food. He's happy enough to eat jam or chocolate spread sandwiches! So I make him eat a small, healthy tea and boost his calories with full fat milk Complan before bedtime! Not ideal!

coff33pot Tue 26-Jul-11 19:06:48

Porridge is a good slow release breakfast.

If he is having tantrums in school and you point it out that hunger is a trigger I am sure they will monitor him eating. Failing that Ask the school if you can keep a couple finger foods in their fridge. And if in the afternoon he has what I call a hissy fit grin tell them to ram a cereal bar into his hand. Ask them nicely and ask them if they will help "you" wink form a pattern to his eating habbits as you are sure its the lack of food that is causing him to get upset.

I dont know how old he is but dds school encourage what they call "thinking food" and have a healthy tuck shop for the afternoons as well as morning break. If he has something in his hand then at least he can munch on route!

moosemama Tue 26-Jul-11 19:51:24

Breakfast muffins are a good one - there's a fantastic recipe in this book that's really nutritious but brilliant as a grab and go food. To make it even better in terms of low GI and slow release you can add in some oats. There are lots of recipes online for breakfast muffins if you google, all with different ingredients, so you can pick and choose and make up your own variety. You can make mini ones to go in lunchboxes and they don't even know they're eating something that's good for them. grin

Flapjacks are another useful filler up and easy to grab and go - you can make them even better slow release by adding some mashed banana to the mixture.

I second porridge as an excellent start to the day, even better if you add lots of fruit - raisins, apricots and banana porridge is a good one, as is adding lots of berries. It really fills them up and keeps them going until at least lunchtime. Fruit smoothies with added protein powder, full fat milk and tofu are great as well.

Does he like pasta? If so, switching to wholegrain rather than white is another trick for longer lasting sustenance and more even blood sugar levels.

I think a lot of children do the whole leaving their lunch so they can get out to play thing, my ds2 does it regularly, but somehow always manages to leave the sandwiches and eat his fruit and treat. hmm

Would smaller bite-sized options in separate pots work better than a traditional packed lunch? So, say, a couple of small squares of flapjack, some cubes of cheese, a hard boiled egg, a small box of raisins, a pot of sliced grapes or other grabbable/stuffable fruit etc? What about cutting his sandwiches into bite size pieces as well? Tesco do an oat based sliced loaf, which would be for good slow release and stabilising blood sugar.

I agree with Ellen as well. The school need him to eat at lunchtime, so they should be willing to add some degree of supervision into his IEP - especially as its in their own interests.

clangermum Wed 27-Jul-11 13:53:27

Some great ideas here - will look at those muffin recipes and I really like the idea of bitesize portions, as basically all he's doing is taking a bite of this and a bite of that at the moment!

clangermum Wed 27-Jul-11 14:00:11

What kind of protein powder would people recommend?

glimmer Wed 27-Jul-11 14:03:35

Yeah and some of the muesli/high performance bars. Unfortunately they can be pricey, but the "good ones" tasted to yummy and are pretty healthy slow release. I know marathon runners who swear by them (and cold potatoes - but maybe that's not what you DS is into to.). Has he had his thyroid checked?

Becaroooo Wed 27-Jul-11 16:13:21

Butter on sandwiches
Pancakes with syrup on
Peanut butter
Choc spread (yes, I know but its tasty and calorific)
Potatoes - lots of them!
Protein powder - you can add it to anything, even soups!

Would he eat more fruit if it had ice cream, cream or custard on it??
i.e. strawberries and cream, bananas and custard,fruit salad and evap milk??? (my PIL swear by this!)

clangermum Wed 27-Jul-11 17:52:09

ooh evaporated milk - haven't thought about that for years. Used to love it as a child and associate it with grandparents!

Haven't had his thyroid checked. He's not underweight - very wiry and very strong - built like a little boxer, in fact was that shape pretty much even as a toddler. Are you thinking his thyroid might be overactive? What would other symptoms be? My only issue really is the mood swings - health wise he's pretty good. I'd wondered if it was a blood sugar level thing, being more sensitive to sweet things and/or more likely to experience dips than the average. Completely ignorant of if/how this relates to thyroid.

clangermum Wed 27-Jul-11 17:54:15

Does protein powder have any effect on energy release rate? I wouldn't want anything giving a quicker energy release.

moosemama Wed 27-Jul-11 18:05:13

According to this link whey powder actually helps to stabilise sugar levels. I don't know that much about it myself though, so it might be worth doing some double checking. Found some more here which also suggests its good for growing children and helps stabilise blood sugars.

My ds1 has just discovered the joys of condensed milk - yeuch! He wanted to try it after learning about it in his WWII studies at school and now likes it on his porridge - can't complain though, as he's currently under investigation after losing over half a stone and we are doing everything we can to try and get more weight onto him.

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