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What do say when a teenager who doesn't need to diet announces she's on a diet?

(14 Posts)
bluejelly Tue 25-Nov-14 14:19:00

My lovely 16 year old dsd is a slim size 8, very active and sporty. In recent months she's started cutting out things, chocolate, crisps, puddings. More recently she's stopped having seconds, snacks, any desserts. And now she's announced she's "low-carbing".
I'm worried about her, she doesn't seem particularly happy at the moment, though nothing major going on other than general GCSE stress etc.
Not sure best way to approach it - should I ignore/not make a fuss/hope it's just a phase? Or try and talk her out of it?
Any advice much appreciated.

Seeline Tue 25-Nov-14 14:21:19

No expert, but I would try not to make a fuss. How about suggesting the whole family (or you depending on circumstances) have a healthy eating month before Christmas, and concentrate on really healthy balanced meals together. get her to suggest menu ideas and perhaps help cook?

bluejelly Tue 25-Nov-14 14:33:49

Thanks Seeline. We already eat pretty healthily and the children do help with the cooking. But maybe I could get her more involved. I think not making a fuss is the way to go though. I want to make she gets lots of positive attention but not for what she eats/doesn't eat IYSWIM.

bluejelly Tue 25-Nov-14 14:36:54

And sorry meant to in the thread title, not do blush

lljkk Wed 26-Nov-14 10:59:41

How much does she love her sport?
To do well at sport you need good quality fuel & lots of it.
So I'd focus on how her eating habits affect her sport (and energy levels & fitness). Not many top athletes would seriously try low-carbing. Nudge those anxieties towards the right nutritional balance for top performance rather than any talk about weight or shape.

VenusRising Wed 26-Nov-14 11:08:05

Are you afraid she's developing and eating disorder, anorexia?

I could be one.

Maybe have a chat about it to her and find a way she can let off some steam from the exams.

Controlling eating / intake and exercise/ output is a way of trying to control your life from stress from external factors, like exams etc.

I'd also emphasise the fuel aspect of her diet, and healthy habits, especially if she's exercising a lot.

If you're very worried about eating disorders I'd phone a professional organisation BEAT, and have a chat with them.

Do not underestimate the effect she's having on any siblings

goldvelvet Wed 26-Nov-14 11:13:14

Is it really a bad thing that she isn't eating things like crisps and dessert?

Why don't you get her a book on clean eating and get lots of healthy snacks
and she'd probably be open to other carbs/grains such as sweet potato, quinoa, rye bread, oats etc.

I don't eat wheat or potatoes because ether make me feel really sluggish and bloated but oats don't. I'm also a size 8.

I think you should support her on her healthy eating journey. If you confront her she will probably stop eating when not around you and become secretive. Where as if you go food shopping and allow her to make informed choices on the kinds of foods she'd like to eat then she'll feel in control of her diet.

Encourage her to load her plate with lots of vegetables, make things like vegetable stews, soups etc together.

The fact that she want to be healthy isn't a bad thing. You can be size 8 and still be incredibly unhealthy on the inside.

gemandjule Wed 26-Nov-14 16:37:25

I don't want to alarm you, and my DD does not have anorexia as such, but I would disagree with goldvelevet regarding crisps, dessert etc. Obviously this is in the context of her diet being in the overall healthy and balanced.
My DD (16.5 now) started restricting about a year ago. Like yours she was only an eight at the time and was a competitive swimmer and also does ballet. Initially it was as you describe, restricting the rubbish and becoming very aware of "healthy" eating. Her periods stopped 9 months ago, she lost 10kg in weight and became quite unwell and very unhappy. She had to give up both swimming and dancing for a number of months. She is now a size 6 and has struggled to gain back any weight although she has started eating well again within the support of the dietician and endless hours of negotiation around what she will and won't eat. I'd say it is a year since she ate a slice of cake or chocolate bar.
This might sound very healthy but honestly, a complete preoccupation with food is not healthy. She is afraid to meet her friends in town as there is no way she would eat fast food etc. She gets upset if she is out all day because she cannot control what she gets to eat. She eats the exact same thing every day except for her dinner. Also due to her level of exercise she needs approx 2500 calories daily and struggles to maintain her weight at just over 7 stone on this. You would have to eat a lot of vegetables to get in 2500 calories daily!!
Sure encourage healthy eating in all the family, but I would be very reluctant to encourage her to start becoming fixated on her diet. If her general diet is good, she is at a healthy weight and she is fit and active, there is nothing wrong with the occasional bar of chocolate.
As I say I don't mean to frighten you but in my experience it can get out of hand quite quickly.
Feel free to pm me if I can be of any help

specialsubject Wed 26-Nov-14 16:47:14

worrying. She clearly doesn't need to lose weight. With high activity she needs good complex carbs.

not eating crap is fine but like anyone else she needs a good balanced diet. Poor eating at this age wrecks bones and fertility; she might not need one but she needs the other.

goldvelvet Wed 26-Nov-14 18:52:08

All i'm saying is this generation now eat crisps and chocolate daily, they are not healthy foods by any stretch of the imagination. My kids have both but on occasion and they aren't part of our weekly food shop. They aren't restricted, neither encouraged. They don't have pudding unless it's fruit or yoghurt. But will have pudding if we eat out, a special occasion or say we've been baking.

I only mentioned the veg thing because I am a vegetarian but of course someone who ate meat would add meat to those dishes and a side of some sort of carbs, I just don't eat meat. My kids do but only a few times a week.

All i'm saying is that if you battle her on this she will become secretive. If you allow her to eat healthily and cook with her she's more likely to actually eat the food having known what's gone into it.

I'd rather my child eat healthy balanced meals and cut out junk food than shun eating all together because they feel that the meal is too unhealthy/full of fat and become really uncomfortable about meal times.

I think you need not focus on her size i've been a size 8 and lived off of sugar and crap as teen and am still a size 8 as an adult i've continuously improved my lifestyle and now live off of veg, fruit and healthy grains as an adult. I still have treats but in general my diet is far more restricted now but I'm far, far healthier.

The thing with clean eating it isn't a diet, it's a lifestyle choice, to eat foods that are designed to fuel the body not fill it with empty calories and chemicals and excessive fats.

I would talk to her and say things like 'low carbing' or faddy diets aren't sustainable and will male her feel worse in the long run. But a 80/20 clean eating life style is. So 80% of the time you eat good food that has been cooked, doesn't contain a list of ingredients and has nutrition benefits to the body. and 20% of the time you can eat ice-cream, chips, popcorn at the cinema etc. That's is sustainable.

I think talking to her like an adult is important the way we fuel our bodies is very important and I think no matter how old or young you should have some say in it. If she doesn't want to eat pudding then she doesn't have to but suggest she can eat some fruit & honey, granola, or a smoothie, apple slices spread with peanut butter all which are fairly high in natural sugars & calories but not processed sugar. This way you can make sure she reaches a decent amount of calories a day without them being crappy empty calories.

goldvelvet Wed 26-Nov-14 19:04:48

The message i'm trying to convey is that it's important for you to talk to her and for her to step away from the idea of diets and talk more about nutrition and making a lifestyle change. People that eat healthily aren't constantly on a diet, they are making a conscious decision to eat foods that will fuel their body with water, vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, healthy carbs & protein that the body can easily digest.

gemandjule Wed 26-Nov-14 21:29:16

I actually think we are more or less saying the same thing, goldvelvet. As I said, my problem is with my DD having become afraid of certain food.
I feel in the context of a largely healthy and balanced diet, your 80%, I guess! the occasional bar of chocolate, crisps etc,20%, is fine. So to me the OP seems to be describing the loss of that 20% which may be, in my opinion, the start of an over disciplined and rigid attitude which is destructive and leads to unhappiness

goldvelvet Thu 27-Nov-14 09:55:18

I think I got the impression that crisps and chocolate were quite a regular occurrence from the op. When someone says they are cutting something out of their diet it's normally something that appears quite frequently or the need to cut it out wouldn't be present.

Like I wouldn't ever say i'm cutting out biscuits or alcohol because I don't consume either often enough to warrant that. If your child only ate crisps every now and then you wouldn't notice if they cut them it out of their diet.

Maybe the op can confirm? I know plenty of teens that eats crisps and chocolate biscuit bars on a daily basis.

I'm really sorry that your daughter has become afraid of certain foods that does sound like she is struggling with an eating disorder that you are managing well with the help of professionals. Would you consider sending her out with foods that she's happy to eat like bags of dried fruits and nuts or a fruit pot, oat cakes, apple etc, nakd bar, as it may make her feel more at ease when out and about. I know it's not an ideal solution to her deeper issues and it would be far better that she could feel comfortable with eating the same things as her friends every now and then. I just feel so sad for her being so controlled by food in such a way that it restricts her ability to socialise. I feel if she felt comfortable knowing she had her own food with her it may help her to feel more at ease when out and about.

gemandjule Thu 27-Nov-14 21:21:26

Sorry if I sounded a bit harsh, it's a bit of a sensitive topic for us and has made me heartily sick of a preoccupation with"healthy food".

You are exactly right, that's how she does manage. She leaves home in the morning with 2 big lunch boxes with rice cakes, smoothie, apple, orange, whole grain roll with peanut butter and a cereal bar! She has been kicked out of McDonald's though for eating her own food even in a group where the other 6 people will have bought something! ( I know they are well within their rights but it does make it tough on her).

Anyway OP, sorry for hijacking your thread. Hope things go well for your DSD.

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