10 answers

4 Year Old Gaining Weight

My son was born with allergies to food and was off the 7 major food groups by one. By 4 he outgrew them all, the last being wheat (oh, he is still off dairy). Since he has added wheat, about 5 months ago, he has been gaining much weight (about 41 inches, 50 pounds), My last pediatrician said he was getting obese and was very over weight. My new pediatrician and his specialist told me he is fine. He is a very very healthy eater and I limit sweets and we drink mostly water. But since he is able to eat wheat, he could finish an entire loaf of bread in one sitting. So now I put only one slice or two on the table and that is what he has. But he can put away an enormous amount of food if I let him. I do limit his intake, but I would like him to learn to be in charge of this. Also, he is telling me he is constantly hungry. I know put about 3/4 of the food is veggies on the table and 1/4 starch...and I always have protein...My concern mostly comes from others who see him and say right to his face, "You are getting fat, wow have you put on weight, wow you are really chunky now." Any suggestions and should I worry about this. He eats everything and is really a good, not picky eater. Thanks El

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So What Happened?™

I really appreciate everyones' thoughtful responses. I was not clear when I said allergies. My son had Allergic colitus and was allergic to most foods early one and it was finally diagnosed at about 13 months. So he bleeds in his stomach from the irritation of food and slowly looses blood. It was completely under control with diet and over the three years, I have been able to add back foods. But think about it, not being able to have bread that everyone else is eating for four years. I was the only one allowed in his daycare to make a lunch. So when he was able to eat bread (on Friday night when he saw the Challah...he ate it, since he never has been able to before). Some of the reactions of gaining weight may still be allergic reactions to wheat (but then it would be different kinds of allergies as all his blood work is great).
But I really think that I let him eat too much. I really have a bad sense of how much to eat. So I am starting very different habits with him. I plan to talk to him more about it at a family meeting. I plan to tell him that the doctor says it is not healthy to eat to much for the size of your body. Learning more about portions and what is appropriate at this age is really helpful. I have already cut down on his portions at meals (like A LOT starting today) and just said no to the thirds and fourths on the bread. He seems to be accepting it. Remember, he never had bread for four years of his life when all around him did.
He does get a lot of exercise and I always try to get at least an hour of physical whatever in a day.

Yes, people are insensitive to the "fat" issue. I did talk to him some about it.

Thanks for all the thoughts as it really helped a lot. And if this approach does not work, you had many more suggestions that I will follow up on.

E.

Featured Answers

I don't have anything to add about the food intake part, but the part about the the comments of other people...WOW. Geeze he is a little kid! I am sorry people say those things to him. I would definately have a short response for them. Something like "I have spoken with my doctors, and we are working toward a solution. Now, if you start putting on weight, I promise I won't point it out to you so bluntly." Honestly, I wonder when people decide it is O.K. to call a 4 year old FAT to his face. Maybe I am just sensitive to the subject being 6 months pregnant. The next person who ask if I am having twins...(I have only gained 15 lbs so far)
Good luck, it sounds like you are on top of things.
J.

More Answers

Fist of all sometimes when you ahve an allergiy to foods you could get dirreah or constipation just like you can not grow from an allergic food you can aloso have the opposite and gain weight from it. I would ahve his sugars tested he sounds like it could be diabetes. There is a test that tests your where your surgars have been for the past month as for that one and do a fasting sugar and a two hour after food, they also ahve a GTT like we do when we are pg that helps and you should ask to have his insulin levels checked at teh same time even if you do the GTT 2 hour one have the insulin tested then too but maek sure they put it in the right vials the insulin has to be ina different tube/vial then what they usually use. hope this helps. DO you RAST, SPT or Patch test his food allergies???
Good luck
J.

I don't have anything to add about the food intake part, but the part about the the comments of other people...WOW. Geeze he is a little kid! I am sorry people say those things to him. I would definately have a short response for them. Something like "I have spoken with my doctors, and we are working toward a solution. Now, if you start putting on weight, I promise I won't point it out to you so bluntly." Honestly, I wonder when people decide it is O.K. to call a 4 year old FAT to his face. Maybe I am just sensitive to the subject being 6 months pregnant. The next person who ask if I am having twins...(I have only gained 15 lbs so far)
Good luck, it sounds like you are on top of things.
J.

Hi El,
There's a great book by Ellyn Satter, How to Get Your Child to Eat But Not Too Much, that might be helpful. She also has a website with lots of info and newsletters, and her background as a registered dietitian and social worker is a perfect combination for dealing with issues of health and habits. It sounds like you're on the right track wanting him to be able to recognize when he's satisfied,and correcting problems before they go on too long is a good plan. Good Luck!

Make sure he gets lots of physical activity.

Limit screen time.

Sounds like you are already doing the food part right. My only concern is that he seems to have gained LOTS of weight quickly. Maybe he is really still allergic to one of those foods? If he isn't processing it correctly that might cause him to store it as fat or for his system to be messed up. You don't need protein at every meal, only once or twice a day so that might be the place to cut back.

Are the portion sizes right for his age? Here is a good place to look - http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/care/ProgramBasics/Meals/Meal...
Most people think of a sandwich as a serving. Not for kids under 5. One QUARTER of a sandwich is a full bread serving. Check out that link and scroll down to the child info.

If you are giving him the correct portions, you may have to measure till you can eyeball them, then one tip I heard was having him wait 20 minutes after he finishes his food before he has seconds. This gives his brain time to get the full signal. He may be gorging on all these foods he was denied all those years.

Here are some other links that might interest you
http://www.healthyweightforkids.org/default.htm
http://www.mypyramid.com/kids

Does your son have any sensory issues? Sensitive to touch, taste, sounds, clothes, etc? Our daughter has been sensitive, and she had been gaining a lot of weight. We took her off gluten, and her body was able to "regulate" itself better.

Try http://www.sensory-processing-disorder.com/picky-eaters.html if he is a picky eater. Sometimes that is something.

Anyway, that is what happened with us, and we took out the gluten and she lost weight. BTW...she was a pretty good eater too, but she ate SO much. My doc said that is because she couldn't regulate and tell when her stomach was full.

Good luck.

I don't think he is obese for his height weight based on the numbers you gave. I do think that you need to limit what he eats. You also need to make sure that he is not sneaking food (I did this as a child, as well as my siblings).

I think that most children think they are hungry when actually they are thristy. I would keep a large sports bottle of water out where he can reach it. If you know he has just eaten but is still saying he is hungry, suggest that he drink water. I have done this with my son as well. Sometimes we add a little bit - 1/3 pack for each 8 oz- of propel dry mix (sold by the crytal light) to add flavor.

I would also suggest that you feed him six smaller meals, not three big ones. This will help keep his metabolism up. Adding protien at each meal will keep him feeling full. (Bread is not a good filler and will leave him feeling hungry even if he eats a lot of it.)

While the Docs aren't trying to worry you, I would definitely address this issue with your son and stay on top of it, especially if your family has issues with weight. It sounds like you are doing all the right things by eliminating his weaknesses, monitoring how much, providing veggies and meat as well as watching sweets and calories from liquids. I would encourage you to put in a plan of exercise for him and reward with some "treats" but mostly fun things to do. You are absolutely right in that he needs to be in charge of this too. Find something that he enjoys and try to get him (and you) some exercise every day.

My daughter was also born with food allergies, wheat being one of them. In learning more about her, I am learning more about myself. I have struggled with weight all of my life and my daughter is/ was on the chunky side and I too attributed it to my daughter's allergies. As a now diabetic (every women in my family has this), I now feel like food allergies have a played a huge roll in my diet. I am now of the mindset that we eat more of what we are allergic to and it's because our body doesn't process it right. For me, refined sugar is my "allergy". Once I took myself off of it, I felt so much better. My skin was better and I actually started losing some weight for the first time in a long time. Anyway, my point is that your son might still have some allergic reations to these foods and while they aren't as severe, his body might not be processing it correctly thus causing him to eat more of it and gain weight. Something to consider.

Hope this helps.

Good luck.
N.

E., First Happy New Year...I have not read your other responses....From reading your question it sounds like you are doing what you can to help your son with his food intake. My concern is what others are saying to him! And if it is adults that are saying this to him, SHAME ON THEM!! If he was to thin it would be the other way around! When they say things to your son you should tell them that they should not say anything to him like that and the Dr's say he is just fine. As far as him always being hungry my 3 sons are always hungry as well lol. I offer them fruit etc. Good Luck to you and your son.

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