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Worried about 15 yo DD eating (or rather lack of it)

(8 Posts)
MummyPenguin Wed 07-Sep-11 18:47:09

My DD is 15 and I'm worried that she's not eating enough. In fact, I know she's not. I don't really know how to begin this thread, so I'll start with a bit of background. She used to be really chubby, some would say fat. She was teased/bullied over this in years 5 and 6. Not long after starting secondary school she changed her eating habits - cutting out sweets, crisps, 'junk' etc. She wasn't exercising at this time, except for games at school, but no additional excercise. Anyway, she lost a lot of weight, her body shape completely changed. It was okay and gave me no cause for concern. However in the last year or so she's become obssessed with what she has/hasn't eaten, how many calories/sat fats are in foods etc. She constantly complains about her body/shape "huge" stomach etc.

I've tried to gently coax her to eat more and we've varied between gentle coaxing from me and arguing about it, which, I know, is counter-productive. Whenever I touch on her eating habits she gets very defensive and jumps down my throat.

Today's food intake is a typical example. Breakfast: Sugar free museli (she will have the smallest bowl possible.) She may have had a piece of fruit too. Lunch: A Go-Ahead bar and some fruit salad. Farley's Rusk when she got in from school (for some reason she likes them.) Her boyfriend is here this evening and I've done him and DS's pizza and chips for tea but DD refused to join them in that and insisted on a small bowl of Leek and Potato soup. I think she had a small roll with that. She more than likely won't eat anything else this evening.

I know a lot of people will say not to confront her all the time and don't push her into a corner, makes the problem worse, and I agree as I know from experience because I've suffered from an eating disorder myself but am fine now. Obviously she witnessed it when I was at my worst though so in a way I'm not surprised this is happening and naturally feel completely responsible and guilty.

She's about 5 foot tall and weighs around 7 stone, possibly less now, if I asked her it would either be another row or I wouldn't get the truth.

I know it's quite common for teenage girls to go through this but I'm really worried. She was quite bad a few months ago, then seemed to relax it all, put a little bit of weight on, looked so much better but now has gone all the other way again. My Mum is constantly on my case about it and my Sister commented recently "you only have to look at her to see she's not eating properly."

Sorry this has ended up being quite long. Any thoughts? Anyone in same/similar situation?

BrigitBigKnickers Thu 08-Sep-11 15:57:22

This is what happened to my DD two years ago when she was 13.

Gradually stopped eating very much at home and I got wind of the fact she wasn't eating her school lunch either.

I noticed she was getting thin and she started saying things that rang alarm bells (I don't need to eat, water fills me up etc.)

The first thing I did was to go to the doctor's (without her) to discuss the problem and see what he suggested. He asked to see her and she was very reluctant but she did go. He saw her with me and also on her own and he agreed she was far too light for her weight. His suggestion was to start by having some sessions with a nurse they had at our doctors practise who was very experienced in dealing with girls who had eating problems and if that wasn't successful then referal to CAHMS.

I have to say the nurse was brilliant and really seemed to help. She used a gentle health scare tactics approach (from what DD told me- I wasn't actually present in the sessions).

We also got quite strict with her at home. Rightly or wrongly we threatened to take privelidges away (e.g. laptop/ mobile) if she didn't eat what we considered to be a reasonable amount.

We think the problems stemmed from being unhappy at school and we later found out from her school that a few other girls were doing the same thing (sort of competetive dieting).

Shortly after starting with the nurse she broke up from school and away from the bad influences (and where I could keep a closer eye on her) she improved and gradually started eating sensibly again.

It was very scary at the time but I felt we caught the problem before it escalated into full blown anorexia.

Now two years down the line DD has a healthy appetite and is a sensible weight.

MummyPenguin Fri 09-Sep-11 16:45:51

Thanks for your reply, BridgetBigKinicers. (Great name!) It made for interesting reading. I have 'threatened' to take her to the Doctor, but have also thought of doing what you did, going on my own first, to discuss the problem, which is most probably what I'd do. I was interested to read that you got quite strict with her and threatened to take away privelidges, as I'm pretty sure that "the advice" would be that this would be completely counter-productive, as when I was at my thinnest and not eating very much at all my Sister spoke to b-eat and they said that there's not really anything that anyone close to the sufferer can do, and that pressure from family can make the problem worse. My Sister was told that the sufferer has to make the first step in wanting to get better. That's all well and good for an adult, but when you're dealing with your teenage Daughter and you're really worried, you may well feel inclined to take the action that you took. I do think with my Daughter though, that that just really wouldn't work and would make things really bad. She's a very intelligent girl who does really well at school. The other day, having got exasperated with her following another discussion about her eating, I just said to her "well, you've got important exams coming up soon and the way I see it, you've got two choices, either cop yourself on, stop all this not eating and continue to lay down foundations for your future, or not be able to take your exams and blow your future because you'll be in hospital. Up to you." Perhaps this wouldn't be approved of by b-eat/medical profession etc. but I just wanted to give her a bit of food for thought (no pun intended) and try a little shock tactic.

I'll continue to keep an eye on her. Bloody girls, eh?! I have two boys who eat me out of house and home! That said, I do know that lads can suffer too. I think there's much more peer pressure and 'competition' amongst girls though, to be the skinniest and so on, as you found with your Daughter.

lesstalkmoreaction Fri 09-Sep-11 17:01:50

I have a 5ft 2 in 7st dd age 16 but she is little and does not eat a huge amount as she has always been fussy. She tends to cook her own meals, eats when she is hungry(wish I could do that) but is also aware that if she doesn't eat enough then she is tired, her skin is awful and she has no energy. She now takes spatone,an iron supplement in her apple juice which she has for breakfast, it gives her an appetite for her apple at lunchtime!!
She does not at the moment have an eating problem, she does eat when she is hungry and is aware of her body but we do keep a close eye on it and I always make sure that food she will eat is readily available as she can't always be bothered to prepare it. I was very similar at her age and just didn't eat much, very different these days!!
But I don't argue with my dd about food she is open about what she eats, If that changed then I would worry.

mumblechum1 Sat 10-Sep-11 10:51:16

tbh, your dd's intake doesn't sound ridiculously small to me, esp. as she's very small for her age at 5 feet. 7 stones at 5 feet sounds slim but not extremely so, but of course it's difficult to judge without seeing her.

colditz Sat 10-Sep-11 10:58:40

it sounds ridiculously7 small to me. There wasn't one full meal in what was described by the OP and this is a growing child we are talking about.

ImperialBlether Sat 10-Sep-11 14:20:02

Can you check her internet history? Some of those pro-anorexia websites are very disturbing. You could make sure she couldn't access them at home if you thought that's what she was doing (ie via your firewall.)

quirrelquarrel Sat 10-Sep-11 20:51:05

The "ana/mia" websites are very scary. I stumbled across them when I was 14/15, completely freaked me out, stamped out any feelings I had about starving myself, which I'd had since I was about 9.

Why don't you make some veg/pasta type stuff for dinner instead of pizza/chips and then she might want to eat with you?

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