Eating Issues with 9Yo Boy

Updated on December 04, 2008
P.F. asks from Libertyville, IL
8 answers

MY son has had weight issues (in his head) since he was very young. He'll say he is too fat or too skinny. When he was really little he would hide to eat marshmallows and hoard other snacks. Oddly he has always been an awesome eater he eats well and all varieties of foods. So... the issue is not with offering choices or him making good choices. Food is not off limits in our house. If you are hungry eat but within reason--candy, fruit, cheese, yogurt, popcorn. He is a very healthy kid, very tall and thin but not skinny. Pretty much "normal." He actually plays football where being bigger is an advantage.

So, here we are at 9. All of a sudden he is not eating. he was sick right before Thanksgiving and was not eating as much at meals saying he was full. It made sense since he hadn't eaten much while he was feverish and coughing (not vomiting). But now he is not eating breakfast and is throwing his lunch away when he gets home from school saying he wasn't hungry. I asked the teachers and they said he isn't eating other kids' lunches either. He eats dinner with us and eats everything salad, vegetables, potato and meat but very small servings.

When do I get concerned about eating disorders? He is incredibly athletic and plays three sports at a time (not our choice but he loves it) so I worry about him not eating enough calories.

Sorry this is long but I wanted to answer most questions in my original post.

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So What Happened?

I have an appointment with my son's pediatrician to rule out any health issues. I also spoke with his teacher and lunch monitor to see if he is maybe getting food from others that he considers "better." I want to make sure he is not just eating other kids' lunches instead of his own. I LOVE the idea of having his coaches talk to him about the importance of eating. I will try that at his practices this week. If those don't work, we will definitely seek counseling. Thanks for all the help. I felt as though I was overreacting with this being only two weeks but feel better that others here have said no, better to act right away. He ate a full meal at dinner yesterday (Mahi Mahi, green beans, salad, and rice) and packed a lunch today. So hopefully he will eat it. He may have even eaten breakfast but with all the dishes in the sink I can't be sure :)

More Answers



answers from Rockford on

I agree with the other post. I would have him evaluated by a social worker or pychologist. 9 seems awful young for thinking about his weight especially if you said he's been like this since he was young. Like one post said that someone may have said something to him about his weight or he could have also heard someone else say something about their own weight. Good luck.



answers from Chicago on

Maybe you could speak to your sons coaches and ask them to give the team a little pep speach about nutrition and its IMPORTANCE in sports because of the massive calorie burn of sports and working out; besides how lack of calorie intake means muscle burns off instead of building up. Good luck and happy holidays.



answers from Chicago on

While I agree that your son probably needs some kind of counseling, it is also very important to have any physical issue (which this is) checked out by his pediatrician before proceeding on to counseling. If I read your post correctly you noted that this lack of eating is a new development following his being sick before Thanksgiving so this problem has this new dimension. Ruling out any sort of physiological cause for his lack of appetite is a good idea.
Life other posters I am concerned about him getting the calories he needs to continue being very active AND healthy. I am also concerned about body issues (I am a counselor so I would never dissuade you from taking the counseling route).


answers from Champaign on

How much have you tried in regards to food? is a good site for explaining food values and stuff. If he loves sports let him know that he absolutely needs calories to grow and perform. Food = fuel period. The better the fuel the better the performance. Also if you let your car run on empty over and over again it would eventually stop working right. His body is the same way. Needs to eat something no matter how small every three or four hours or so. If you've tried everything else I would look into some kind of counselor because if it's really a disorder it probably doesn't have anything to do with food. Anorexia is a disease and needs to be treated right away.
I for one don' think 9 is too young in today's society to get "weight issues." TV and magazines only show freakishly thin people and attack anyone normal or heavier - Jennifer Love-Hewitt is a size two and was all over magazine covers wondering why she was "so fat." My stepdaughter was 5 when she first started wondering why whe was "fat" (and she's always been freakishly skinny no matter what she ate). I finally had to put my foot down with her and tell her a certain amount of fat is necessary to grow and to give her nice skin, nails and hair - and if she got any skinnier I'd take her to the doctor. We haven't had a problem since.
Sometimes all you can do is love them and find them outside help. I wish you all the luck in the world. We think they're perfect why can't they?



answers from Chicago on

All I can say is get in communication with your son and see if someone said something to him about his weight. Maybe kids are making fun of him at school.

The hiding and hoarding food is not that unusual, little kids will often do that. If he was a lot older that might be an issue.

If there isn't anything bothering him, take him to a doctor and rule out any physical ailments. Make sure he doesn't have any digestive problems.

There are times my 7-year old will eat a very tiny breakfast, only a sandwich for lunch and a tiny dinner. And other times she wolfs down food. She looks fine and has plenty of energy so I chalk it up to she's hungry sometimes and other times not.



answers from Chicago on

Male eating disorders are ingored. There are lost of reasons people develop eating disorders. They can be stress both external and internal. They can be chemical changes. My son is a bing eater for comfort. He can eat five adult meals between 3 and 10 p.m. He will do it for the rest of his life. I would ask for a refurrel to a good eating disorder therapist. I would not worry whose fault it is or why it happened. It is more important to get help. My girlfriend who stopped eating told me her mother said this is something we will work through. Good Luck!



answers from Chicago on

Hi P. ~ I am sorry you are going thru this. I can only imagine how frustrating it is for you. As someone who has worked w/men, women, boys and girls w/eating disorders for the past 6 years (almost) I would definitly recommend having him evaluated. Not by your regular M.D. but by a psychologist or social worker who specializes in eating disorders. It may be just a faze, but it could be more and better to catch it now, than when he is even older.

If you need more specific information or names of some professionals in the area, please let me know.



answers from Chicago on

I agree with the recommendation of going to see a psychologist or counselor who deals not only with eating disorders but also control issues. I'm definitely not saying that your son is anorexic, just using anorexia as an example, but often anorexia isn't always about body image or weight but more of a 'control' issue. Some people who have anorexia are over-achievers/perfectionists and may feel a lot of external pressure to succeed. Hoarding and/or controlling eating is one way they can exert ownership or control over some part of their life that no one else can interfere with, and performing these behaviors give them either some sort of satisfaction or relief.

In any event, ask his pediatrician for a referral to a psychologist or counselor. There may be some other underlying issues that need to be brought to the surface. Good luck to you and your family.

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