40 answers

Chubby 9-Year Old

How can I help my overweight 9 year old daughter lose weight and still feel good about her body? She's already talking about how she doesn't look good in clothes, feels uncomfortable, etc. And I fear I'm making her feel guilty or shameful because I know my "helpful" comments (like: eat less, choose healthy things, are you really hungry) are not helping.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

She is 9, she may not loose weight, maybe just grow taller and maintain. You have to change the whole family's eating habits and what kind of food is in the house. You can't just restrict one child. Is she is sports/activities? Anything that will increase her activity level and self-esteem will help get her mind active and keep her from absent eating.
A quick story, young girl about 5, very chubby. Mom terribly worried about her and trying to make her diet. Dad stated taking her on bike rides and signed her up for basketball at the park. (she was not tall, he did not play,just on of her friends was doing it, so she was up for it) I think she was about 9 by that time, still struggling with her weight. I saw hew 2 weeks ago, she is 13, 6ft tall, legs up to there, thin, gorgeous. And she is in 8th grade and college scouts are coming to her park district games!
The point is help you daughter pick something that she can re-direct her attention, and her self worth is very fragile right now so be careful.
Good luck to both of you.

I have to agree with the posters who have said the family has to eat healthier as a whole. If the house is stocked with whole foods - lots of fruit, veggies and wholesome snacks then she can eat all she wants. It has to be a family thing. While the family is changing their bad habits, help her find things she is good at - if that's a sport even better. Maybe try tennis lessons, they should be starting this time of year. Good luck.

Can you get her involved in an exercise program, walk with her, kick around a soccer ball with her play jump rope and feed her only healthy items. Rid the house of processed devitaminized foods. Stock up on raw fruits and veggies, whole grains, remind her that as she is exercising that muscle weighs more than fat so the number on the scale is not always a true test of health.

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Is she recently becoming chubby, or has she slowly grown that way over a long time? I ask, only because when pre-teens start to get ready for puberty and growth spurts they tend to chub out a little bit. And at 9 yrs old she may be a little closer to that pre-pubescent age than you'd probably think.

If it is not a recent development, or you just want to help her anyway because she is unhappy about it, then yeah.. .lay off the comments. Instead... DO something about it. Literally. Being active outside the house leaves less time for snacking and lounging. Take along healthy snacks, and keep healthy snacks readily available in the fridge for her at home. Start eliminating most of the junky stuff in your pantry. You won't need to say anything. She'll eat what you provide, or she won't eat... she's 9. That sounds mean.. but it's just reality. I don't mean you can't buy ice-cream and serve up a scoop for dessert after dinner, but think about what you bring into the house. YOU are in charge of that.
Rather than ask her if she "is really hungry", instead suggest she "have a glass of ice-water... I'll get you a snack in a minute." (I read somewhere that 90% of the time we think we are hungry we are actually thirsty instead but don't realize it.) Then after about 5 minutes or so... ask her if she still needs a snack. Yes? Then slice up an apple and give her some peanut butter to dip into it. Or make her some air popped popcorn. Or a handful of peanuts (yes, fats, but they are good fats and the protein and fats will be satiating).

If you can get her outside, you can eliminate her hunger without trying too hard. Just be sure when you eat meals, that you provide plenty of protein at each meal. Carb laden foods without protein actually make you feel hungry a short while later, after the sugar load dips. Protein stays with you and you don't get those dips in blood sugar that trigger hunger. When my kids eat adequate protein at their 3 squares a day, they can play outside the whole day and only come inside for bathroom breaks and cold drinks (usually water). They almost NEVER interrupt their play to come get a snack. Either they aren't hungry enough, or they are too busy/distracted with their play to notice or think about hunger. So keep her busy.

Go to the zoo and walk around the ENTIRE place; spend an afternoon at a park; walk your dog in a new neighborhood; ask her to help you pull weeds or clean up something in the yard; let her have a friend over and plant a mini-garden with them or give them a box of sidewalk chalk. DOING takes your mind away from mindless eating... AND gets you moving and burning excess calories!

It's okay for her to have a handful of "junky" chips with her turkey sandwich made with light bread and fresh lettuce, with a side of olives or a piece of fruit. A little bit of "junky" will trick her mind into not noticing being "deprived". Just be careful that the REST is health conscious choices. Remember, she is 9. You don't need to tell her to choose healthy, YOU need to do the healthy choosing and if necessary explain to her (as you serve it maybe) that her body needs some good fuel for her next growth spurt. (the end... no lectures on anything). She is 9, long winded conversations about health/weight or constantly talking about it, will only make her more focused on her shortcomings and make her feel bad about herself. Just model good choices, serve her good choices, and keep her active. The rest should take care of itself.

3 moms found this helpful

Though of course your comments are done out of love, I would replace every word you are tempted to utter with an action. Don't tell her to not to eat junk food, just stop bringing it into the house. Don't tell her to slow down at dinner, do it yourself...Spend as much time talking as eating. Don't ask her if she is interested in sports...Take her to the pool. Don't tell her to go outside and play. Go take a long walk together and catch up on your day. Heck -- Your entire family will benefit.

2 moms found this helpful

Do you buy the groceries? do you have custody of her 7 dyas a week?? if so you are in charge of what she has to eat.

do you have chips and cookies in your house? if you do .. stop buying them..

buy more fruits and veggies.. healthy snacks.. I would do things gradually - kids are not supposed to lose much weight.. but to grow into their weight.. gradually get taller so theier weight is proprotional.

can you sign her up for a sport?/ soccer, dance.. it doesnt matter what ist iss... just something to get her moving.. take a walk with her after dinner.. ride bikes..

1 mom found this helpful

First off "are you really hungry" "chubby" "choose healthy things to eat": those don't sound very helpful to me and how is a 9 year old suppose to know what is healthy. Eating healthy needs to be a family effort. If you have healthy eating habits in your home, eventually she will make healthy eating choices on her own. That goes for exercising too. She is 9 years old, which is that awkward stage between being a child and teenager.

1 mom found this helpful

Exercise! Try getting her involved in some physical activities like dance, swimming, soccer, softball, etc. Go for walks and/or bike rides together. Get active! That is one of the most important things to teach her as part of being healthy, not just eeating right. If you are concerned about what and how much she is eating, take a look at what is in your pantry and fridge. Try to eliminate unhealthy snacs and get "treats" only every once in a while. Lastly, model, model, model. She will do what you do and will pick up on your feelings. Model healthy eating and exercise. Make it interesting and fun. Let her choose what activities she wants to do and let her help make healthy snacks and meals.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi K.,

Well I think I might start with having more fruits and veggies around. I would change what I buy for the home. Things like soda, chips, fast food, butter, white breads, buttered popcorn are bad choices but hard to resist if they are in the home. Try buying single bottled water, carrot sticks, no fast food (only once in a while) I use "real fruit" on dry toast instead of butter, whole wheat bread two slices a day, no buttered pop corn. lots of fresh fruit handy, sliced cucumber, sliced tomatoes are so yummy!
She is only nine.....I bet she would love to take walks with you. Buy two tennis rackets and play with her. Join soccer, basketball........take her swimming at a gym if you can. Get Active with her and she will love it. Make TV time only one hour per day. Stick to it and your lovely daughter with feel so much better about her self without you having to say one word except that mom is making better choices for all of us! Good luck!

Just a tip.......It takes twenty minutes for our bellies to tell our minds that our bellies are full. So when you have a serving of food it should be enough. If not have a nice cold glass of water! : )

as far as eating goes I found one study method to be amazingly successful - put an age appropriate serving on their plate (for that age an ipod worth of meat, a cucake liner worth of pasta or rice, a lightbulb size worth of veggies/fruits, two lipsticks worth of cheese, a champagne flute worth of juice/milk, I have a visual guide that I just took that off of. You can go to mypyramid.org and get sizes and use actual measuring cups till you learn what the real serving size looks like.) After they finish that food, set the timer for 20 minutes. Only after 20 minutes can they have seconds. The reason for that is that it teaches the kids to use their hunger cues instead of taste cues. Kids who followed this lost weight without being hungry and more importantly learned the amount of food that was appropriate and had better life long eating habits after the control part of the study was done.

Along with eating right, you need to increase her activity level. Walks, bike rides, roller blading, playing at playgrounds - all that will be fun ways for her to get active. Limit screen time even on bad days. If she's a reader you may have to limit that too.

Can you get her involved in an exercise program, walk with her, kick around a soccer ball with her play jump rope and feed her only healthy items. Rid the house of processed devitaminized foods. Stock up on raw fruits and veggies, whole grains, remind her that as she is exercising that muscle weighs more than fat so the number on the scale is not always a true test of health.

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