J.H. asks from Minot, ND on August 30, 2009
8 Year Old DD Is Overweight- Help Please
I am a mother of two and my almost 8 year old is overweight. I am and have always been naturally skinny (I'm one of those that most people hate-can eat anything and stay small.) My daughter LOVES to eat. If she is playing and hears me open food in the kitchen she comes running- What are we eating! I am struggling with how to get her to eat less and eat healthy. When she asks for more food at dinner or lunch I ask her if she is still hungry or full. She always says she is hungry. I do buy healthy food but my husband also goes grocery shopping and buys junk (hence the reason he is overweight.)
My daughter notices now that her stomach sticks out and how it's hard to find clothes that fit nice. I want her feel good about herself. I keep reminding her she is beautiful.
I don't want her to grow up overweight and because I have not had an issue with this I don't know how to help her. Am I overreacting? She kept asking for food one night and I finally said "If you keep eating you will get fat. Do you know what that means?" She said yes, fat like dad. I felt bad for saying that to her but I don't know how to get her to care about her health. Thanks in advance for your help.
So What Happened?™
Thank you soooo much moms for your help. I wish I could give you all big hugs. I am a bit overwhelmed at all the responses so it may take me a few times of reading them to digest (pun intended!) all the information. I am now excited to become a healthier family and feel like I have the tools to accomplish that goal. Thanks again moms.
M.J. answers from Omaha on August 31, 2009
PLEASE don't make weight an issue for her!!! It will come on her own soon enough. If dad is overweight and she is too, my bet is it's genetic. I'm overweight and my DH is not, and my kids eat a ton of junk an are thin as rails. It's because of dad, not some great diet. You are being a good mom by being concerned about her health, but take care of it by supplying healthy food and limiting snacks. Don't cancel them out all together or they will just seem even more desirable. Instead set reasonable limits. Like, one snack after school and one after dinner. Also, try to do fun activities with her that get you both active, but don't seem like exercise. Don't mention the "f" word again, for many people (and she may be one of them) this is a lifelong battle and very hard to fight. It's better if she has a good body image and is confidant in herself. Even if you don't think she looks fabulous in her little outfits, you could compliment her hair or how she color coordinates one day for example. Good luck!
S.K. answers from Minneapolis on August 31, 2009
I've struggled w/ my weight since I was very young so when I found out I was having twin girls I was nervous for them. From day one I've worked hard to train them to crave veggies/ fruit instead of junk - even mixing their baby cereal with the pureed veggies instead of apple sauce. what I have found is that even though they are twins (a.k.a. same exact environment from day one!) they have VERY different approaches to food. I have one who could care less about it and one who is CONSTANTLY telling me she's hungry - even after we've just eaten a health high fiber filled dinner. To answer the 'hungry ones' needs I always ask her to drink some water first (dehydration is mistaken for hunger)then if she still says she's hungry I offer her a second serving of veggies. My thought is if she eats these then she is truly hungry and I will then give her whatever else she is asking for (healthy choices)after she finishes these b/c I believer her to be actually hungry and not bored. We have fruit not junk for dessert and I try very hard to make sure we don't snack in the car. If we do snack I always make sure there is a protein included in the snack b/c it files you up more and takes longer to digest. Children's diets today are filled with WAY too many simple carbs (crackers, cookies, pasta, breads) and all they do is convert into FAT if not burned off. I would also look into limiting High Fructos Corn Syrup from her diet as it is in EVERYTHING and turns right into fat!!We have a no bags no boxes policy in our house... you mush sit down with a plate at the table when you eat... not reach into a bag of something while watching TV. Mindless eating is 1/2 the battle - make sure she's sitting down and eating properly - even when she is snacking. Good luck.
B.F. answers from Sioux Falls on August 31, 2009
I do not know the answer to your question, but will read the responses carefully because my little girl seems to be tending towards heavier than either my husband or I were at her ages. I nursed her from 6lbs 10ozs to 90th percentile or above for weight within months. She has remained over the 90th percentile, and although she is young I want to be watchful. Anyway, what I really wanted to say is that your honesty in the request is beautiful and I appreciate you sharing.
T.L. answers from Minneapolis on August 30, 2009
I agree with beth except that instead of not offering 2nd I would make her wait 15 minutes to a 1/2 hour after she is finished to see if she really is still hungry.
C.Z. answers from Sioux Falls on August 31, 2009
My daughter is 5 and would eat constatly if I let her. I fight the battle of weight myself and try to only have healthy snacks around but I too am guilty of having junk around. She seems to be doing pretty well mow that I have put a shcedule to our snacking, and she knows that in the afternoon she doesn't get snack until 3 pm so when she asks for something the answer is simple if its 3pm we can snack otherwise no. We also try for somewhat healthy snacks most days but not all. I also have a 7 yr old daughter and a 2 yr old son.
E.S. answers from Madison on August 31, 2009
you have a lot of great advice here, but her doctor is also a great resourse. I would give the office a call and see what they have to say. Good luck.
E.I. answers from Duluth on August 31, 2009
shes EIGHT!!! kids have tummies. and for another thing, they breathe properly because they havent gotten self conscious about their body yet - so they use their diaphram like they are supposed to, which pushes their stomach out.
never use the word fat as a punishment or an "or else"
the whole thing is just aweful! you are unconsciously causing her to start being ashamed of her hunger. she needs to eat when hungry. and she needs to just know when SHE is full. you cannot feel when she is hungry and when she is full. she is responsible for that, and you are responsible for offering her HEALTHY choices.
the word is not diet, it is lifestyle change. you have to make an ENTIRE FAMILY LIFESTYLE CHANGE!!
it sounds like you are just as upset about your husband than about your daughter. your whole family needs this. just because you remain smaller, does not mean you are at your best health. my husbands mother is obese, and his father is tall and skinny. however, he has high fracture risk osteoperosis which does not come from bad luck, it comes from bad, salt filled diet (amoung other bad health choices)
you have to take control. shop together, never let one of you shop alone. walk the outside perimeter of a store, try to avoid walking the aisles too much - processed canned and boxed foods are HORRIBLE for salt content, and others. FRESH fruits, FRESH veggies (or frozen is also acceptable), WHOLE GRAIN breads or cereals (whole wheat or whole grain MUST be the top ingredient, watch for breads with high fructose corn syrup or other sugar forms in the top 5 ingredients.
one quick and easy change you can make is to buy a box of milled flax seed. it has healthy fiber in it. start with a serving of a teaspoon or so, adjusting as necessary. if someone gets diarhea from it, just use less.
what fiber does is absorbs water and causes stool to be softer, like it should be. this causes the stomach to FEEL FULL faster and longer. empty white breads, rices and etc NEVER will make a person feel full. i could eat an ENTIRE LOAF of white bread, but after 2 slices of whole grain bread i feel full. see the difference? also, though it may be 2 $ more expensive to buy the whole grain bread, like i said, you arent feeling like eating 6 pieces, you feel more satisfied after only 2.
pair fiber intake with MUCH MORE WATER.
reduce or ELIMINATE ANY JUICE AND SODA!!! those drinks are the first and biggest cause of any obesity because though you arent eating you are probably consuming more calories than an entire dinner! so first choice for drinking NEEDS TO BE WATER ONLY. SMALL glasses of juice or milk at MEALS ONLY. any seconds on a drink should be water. there is no real nutritional need for juice, you lose nutrients in juice so you might as well just eat fruits. milk isnt as great as they say, but if you are only drinking a small glass at meals thats probably more than enough of the benefits from that than a person needs. so milk between meals isnt needed either.
but what im saying is that shes eight, and if you are starting to make her feel shame over her hunger now, she could be headed right toward anorexia... and that is NOT a path you want to send your kid anywhere NEAR. its conflicting that though you tell her that she is beautiful, at the same time, you shamed her for being hungry. :( if shes hungry, let her eat. but make sure she has fresh fruits and veggies to choose from first.
OH, the milled flax seed. you can sprinkle that on ANYTHING. cereal, sandwiches, yogurt, in soups or ANYTHING. its fantastic. just make sure lots of water. fiber will absorb water, but it needs to be in your body to be absorbed first ;P
please write to me if you need me to clarify anything.
S.W. answers from Minneapolis on August 31, 2009
So far your post and all responses talk only about food - what about exercise and physical activity?? Is your family active together? Does your daughter get at least an hour of physical activity a day (the recommendation by the CDC)? Adequate exercise also regulates appetite. Parents have a large influence on children at age 8 as to level of activity - you can set a positive example. And, yes, when her father is overweight, your daughter has a 50% chance of being overweight, too (I am dealing with that same issue).
Here are some resources:
(a site designed for children from age 9 - 13)
B.H. answers from Minneapolis on August 30, 2009
Cut the junk out of the house
Don't allow 2nds at lunch or dinner make so there is no 2nds to offer
Have healthy snacks like string cheese, apples, cheese,yogurt,applesauce
Cut out all soda and limit 1 glass of juice a day
Encourage outside play, sports, anything like that
You are not over reacting if you change the entire houses habits now your daughter has a good chance of being healthy and fit.