11 Yr Old Daughter Not Eating

Updated on July 07, 2011
L.P. asks from Atkins, IA
21 answers

My daughter that just turned 11 is having some issues. She will not eat fruits or veggies AT ALL. I put them on her plate and if I tell her she has to clean her plate she will sit there (even in restaurants) and make herself puke all over. This has been going on for awhile now, we do not have the money to take her to a psychologist. I have tried everything that I can thin of. I wouldn't be too worried but she now won't do anything...everything is boring to her. I can't even get her out of the house this summer...I have tried taking things like the computer and stuff away but she would rather lay on her bed and stare at the ceiling then go play with other kids or her puppy. The only thing that she eats is meat, cheese, pasta, potatoes and gravy...basically starches. She has gained so much weight over the last several months that I just don't know what to do.

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So What Happened?

we do not have a home church we just moved (her behavior has not changed at all with the move) I haven't found any nice people up here through all the churches and school that we have visited. We live in a very small town and no pool YMCA or anything for a ways away and i have multiple children. She is the only one that I have concerns with.

Outside of this she is an awesome child, always helpful around the house LOVES reading, no complaints at all about behavior at school, she does have friends but tells them she doesn't want to play when they come over and ask (she tells me cause it is hot/cold out or some other excuse). She always uses manners and is a joy to be around as long as it isn't meal time or physical activities.

She wil not eat anything whole grain that I have triend (and i have tried almost everything) no smoothies - won't touch yogurt, milk, fruit, not even red pasta sauce....she doens't drink soda, only water-won't touch juice.

we have no insurance of any kind...I have been a stay at home mom for 6 years and I can't find a job anywhere.

My son (5) is the opposite, he doesn't like meat, 90% of what is in my house are fruits veggies...I don't buy alot of sodas and sugars or even breads...He eats eggs, beans, and peanut butter. I fix very healthy meals and she just won't eat anything if I don't fix something she will like so it isn't me not offering her good choices. It would be so very nice to only prepare one meal during a meal but is impossible around here!

When I grew up I was on the softball, basketball, track and everything else, she won't have anything to do with it.

To be honest I do not even know what the income is...my husband has not had a stable job in years, but we pay over 500 dollars a month in student loans as it is and we just lost a house. Sometimes I wonder how we put food on the table, but he will not allow me to let the kids have hawk-i I have tried and it ends up BADLY. He thinks it is the government giving handouts...UGH I am at a loss!

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answers from Omaha on

My psychologist told me there are 3 things you can't make a child do, eat, sleep or go the bathroom. There is nothing wrong with what she is eating, I would just simply cook the correct portions for her- don't make extra. She is 11. Maybe ask her if she wants to go for a walk with you, or go to the pool together. Sounds like to me she wants some attention- so, give it to her in a positive way. Go rent a paddle boat or canoe. Get her active by going to Putt putt. But don't stress over it- she shouldn't die due to lack of fruits and veggies in her diet. Fix her meal and say- this is it, don't offer options other than what is on the table



answers from Minneapolis on

Will she drink fruit or veggie juice? I would look for alternatives and don't fight a battle you can't win.

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answers from San Francisco on


Mama you'er reply indicates that your have nothing but negatives in your life and household. Your daughter is feeding off your attitude and willingness to cater to "what she will do and not do". So you are a stay at home mom and there's nothing in your town in the way of youth activities, YMCA or church activities? OK, then it is up to you to get your 11 year old in gear and take her out of the house daily, even if its just to walk and talk and get her and the dog some exercise. (Your son should probably go as well).

As for the meal preparation, YES you can just prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner without being a "short order cook". They will eat what your serve or wait until the next meal (with NOTHING in between). I don't think either of your children will starve. I'm am hesitant to ask this, but is your husband as picky as your children and are you catering to him as well?

Nothing is going to change until you take the lead.


Is there a YMCA in your area? If there is, put her in a few activities each week. I suggest yoga, swimming and perhaps an exercise class. (Yoga and exercise can sometimes help when one is depressed. If you don't have the money for a membership, the Director can/may be able to give you a free six month hardship membership. (They did that for me several years ago when I was unemployed).

If there is no YMCA in your area, check out the youth groups. Some churches have really good programs to w/counselors that may be able to help.

Diet has a lot to do with how we feel, mentally and physically. The weight gain in also a concern, so I would cut down her portions, cut out any soda, sweets, including sugar packed cereals and snacks in between meals. If she want them back, tell her she must eat some salad or veggies with her meals. I would not be taking her to any restaurants if she causes herself to throw-up---that appears to be a control thing.

Most importantly, keep talking to her, even if she isn't talking much. Let her know she is loved and can tell you and dad anything that's troubling her. I agree with speaking to her school counselor and/or some of her teachers. How did/does she do in school?

I would take away the computer, Ipods, phone etc. I would also insist she walk, feed and clean up after her puppy. And as far as the classes, just put her in the car and take her there, you may have to stay with her until you can trust that she is going to participate. She is just 11 and your the mama,
show her who's in control and if she wants more freedom, her life needs to change.


3 moms found this helpful


answers from Iowa City on

You did not mention what your household income situation is, but since you live in Iowa, you might check and see if your children qualify for the Hawk-i program. Their website is here:

It's an insurance program specifically for children whose parents make too much money to qualify for Medicaid.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Your daughter needs to be your first priority. Please stop making excuses and do whatever is necessary to help her.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Do you have a home church, you don't need money to see your pastor and they probably have some good women in the church she can talk too. If you aren't involved I encourage you to get involved, there are some really great churches and she can meet some great people...

Get her out of the house too, don't let her stay in her room, go on a walk or bike ride with her.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Please get her at least to your family doctor. It sounds like your daughter maybe experiencing some type of depression. They may be able to refer you to someone who services are reduced or free if need be.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Sounds like depression. I would talk to the pediatrician and seek our professional help. Perhaps they can guide you on where to get affordable counseling. The weight gain and withdrawl is not a good thing at all. There is an underlying issue that you need to deal with. So sorry

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Davenport on

She definitely sounds depressed, and on the way to an eating disorder. Did she get bullied at her previous or current school? Does she have any real close friends? Have the guidance counsellors at school had anything to say about it?

As for nutrition, give ehr the healthiest diet you can afford, make one healthy well-roubded meal for the family ( breakfast/lunch/dinner - and offer healthy snack options), and don't become a short order cook, and let her eat the parts she likes in correct portions. Offer the fruits and veggies, but don't try to force her, and have her throw up. You could try sneaking veggies and fruits into her diet, mixed in with the things she will eat ( meatloaf with veggies and whole grains in it, pancakes with flax meal and whole grain mix, etc., mix mashed cauliflower into the mashed potatos)- J. Seinfeld and another woman write cookbooks on this, The Sneaky Chef and Deceptively Delicious - check your local library. Maybe look for books that might help her with her self esteem and eating issues in the young adult or child's section, too.

And yes, she needs at least a regular Dr. app't and maybe a referral to a pychiatrist....and despite what your husband thinks, go get the kids Hawk-I! They need healthcare and opviously right now, you can't afford it out of pocket. Tell him you are doing it, no arguments, that when you two did work, you both paid into the system for these things, and it is a time of need, that is what it is there for, not a FOREVER handout! When he or you get a regular job again with Insurance, then you can provide that on your own, but for now, you need to use what is available, in this economy, it is necessary.

Also, can you call your student loan company and see about putting the loans on hold/deferring them because of financial hardship for a year or so???? Most student loan companies will do this for up to 36 months total, there are some requirements of you being registered at an state unemployment agency/proof that you 2 are both consistently looking for work, in the area, etc. but it would definitely help on the financial end of things. I am happy to see you are paying them though, so many ppl are so irresponsible, they just default on them, it is good you aren't doing that, but you need to see if you can free up some money to take care of your daughter's health.

Here are articles on deferring or getting a forbearance on the loans for now:



Good Luck!


1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

All of the mom's that pinpoint depression are probably correct. Her choices of food and lack of movement only help to promote more depression.

In my home, I have made it plain that my kitchen is not a restaurant and I am not a short order chef. There isn't one meal for you and another for everyone else. If you don't want to eat, fine. While I am required to feed you as a parent I am not by any means required to cater to someone who is not compliant. If you want what you want you have to do something for me to get it. So if you want, gravy, pasta, etc. I would require you do something in the form of exercise to earn it.

I have suffered from depression for many years and the best thing for it was exercise, being honest with myself, and eating right.

Since you have moved, how are you going to enlist the village to help you with this child? Are their any relatives close by to help you with the other children as you get to the bottom of the problem with this one? Something may have happened to her that you have no idea of. Love her through this and get to the bottom of it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

She is eating lots of starches. They are comfort foods. Is she eating because she is hungry or upset? Well, I would tell you she is depressed since she is not interested in doing anything. I would take her for counseling. In the meanwhile,deos she like to go to the swimming pool? does she like to swim? Put her on swim team. The exercise will be good for her and she will lose some weight. I have a Mom that always got on me when I gained weight and it was not something that helped. I would tell you take her to the doctor also and see if she is depressed. Does depression run in the family? Best of luck and go bless.



answers from New York on

Many social workers operate on a sliding scale according to your income, or might take her on pro bono for the first session or direct you to an agency that can take on her case.

If there is an eating disorder at play, it's important to get it treated early. Food is only the symptom of underlying issues like depression, school pressure, peer pressure, etc.

I wouldn't push the food at all but instead try and tap into what might be going on emotionally. Try and figure out when this started and see if it correlates to a school or personal event.

Lots of luck and love.



answers from Anchorage on

She sounds depressed.



answers from Youngstown on

Can you call her school and talk with the guidance counselor. They might be able to help or direct you to a free counseling place. It sounds like she is depressed. I would not pressure her about the food choices until you can get to the bottom of what is bothering her, you will only create more harmful food issues in her. Good luck.



answers from Eugene on

You know what kind of things she will eat, try cooking them different ways to cut down the fat and calories. Have her drink only water and milk maybe a V8 for the fruit and veggies. 11 is a hard age, she isn't a kid, not an teenager. Have the 2 of you go for a daily walk. See if you can get her talking about what she is thinking-you becoming her psychologist. Body image is important to a young girl. She might not see the food is the problem-you help her when you buy the food, cook, it you can control the calories and fat, even if she doesn't eat the veggies and fruit.



answers from Minneapolis on

Where your child's health and well being is concerned, there is no room for pride. Get the hawk-i insurance plan or medicaid or whatever else you qualify for and get her to a counselor.

Depression can lead to suicide, don't make light of this. Your husband's pride will heal.


answers from San Francisco on

Do you have health insurance? If so then therapy should be covered. It sounds like depression.
My 12 year old is currently in therapy for an anxiety disorder that has led to eating issues, except in her case she refuses to eat almost anything and she has lost weight. Her therapist says that she has a large number of patients in this age group because so many kids have a hard time dealing with all of the stress and change that comes with entering puberty. It is just heartbreaking to see my once happy, outgoing girl suffering like this :(
As far as her weight goes, try to make sure the foods you give her are as lean as possible, lean cuts of meat, low calorie cheese, whole grain pasta, etc. And ALWAYS check the calorie content, just because the label says low or non fat does not mean it has less calories. Don't single her out, make it a positive family effort, "we are going to start eating better as a family!" And for sure don't keep any soda or processed foods around, those things will pack on the pounds like nothing else. Even fruit juice has a lot of calories :(
Does she like smoothies? A smoothie made with fruit, ice, nonfat plain yogurt and a little juice is low cal, nutritious and most kids like them.
My best to you, I hope you have insurance that will allow her to get some help. A professional makes a huge difference :)



answers from Minneapolis on

Your daughter is showing signs of depression, and the focus on food control could be the early signs of an eating disorder. If you do not have insurance, there are many mental health centers that provide services free or on a sliding scale fee. Start with your county mental health/behavioral health department, or call your county crisis number to get referrals. Unfortunately I am not familiar with services in Iowa, but county services are pretty standard. I know its frustrating, but she needs support right now, even if she is shutting you out. If she is laying on her bed, try to lay next to her and say nothing, Spend some special time with her, take her somewhere - it doesn't have to cost money. When she is ready to talk, see if she will open up about her aversion to fruits and vegetables, and her apathy in general right now. There may be an underlying reason other than pickiness for her food control issues - she may not even be able to voice what it is right now, but don't let this go.



answers from Minneapolis on

you need to get this child some help NOW!!!!-theres obviously something very wrong with her-have family dr check her over-and if she needs therapy theres alot of free or low cost...dont wait til shes critical or commits suicide..



answers from Minneapolis on

I'm with the others - prepare one meal, and if she doesn't eat it, tough. She can wait until the next meal. Do you take your kids to well visits? When do they go to the doctor? I'd get her in with one - if you don't have insurance, call ahead to a few and ask what their prices are. You don't want this to grow into a hard core eating disorder if you can help it.


answers from Boston on

Talk to the doctor - your insurance should cover a number of mental health professionals, or you can find sliding-scale services from your town's department of family & children's services.

All those starches give her a boost in blood sugar followed by a crash. The meat isn't a problem unless she's eating high fat cuts. Same with cheese in low-fat forms - that's protein. She could also be hormonal, adding to the depression. I'm concerned about the puking. That's a red flag big time.

I don't think forcing her to clean her plate is going to help much - it's turning this into a battle of wills, and it's only going to get worse as she gets into puberty. Eating disorders are about control anyway. I realize that your daughter eats, but only a few things. You can exert some control by what you cook and make available for snacks, but I think she needs more intervention.

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