Have You Ever Used a Child Nutritionist? How Did It Work for Your Child?

Updated on January 27, 2012
N.G. asks from Arlington, TX
14 answers

My almost 8-year-old daughter told me this morning that she feels bad because she thinks she's fat and she's feeling left out because none of her friends are. She IS significantly overweight, and this has been going on since she was 3-4 years old but hasn't been something that we have been able to successfully get under control. I've talked to her pediatrician and he gives me the run-of-the-mill food group education and portion control and exercise... the stuff I know like the back of my hand. She has had one blood test when she was 6 and everything was normal, except for an elevated c-peptide which is apparently a marker for people who may be susceptible to developing type 2 diabetes. She is very active, gets plenty of exercise.

Anyway... I am considering taking her to a child nutritionist. However, my insurance doesn't cover it, which is fine, I'lll pay for it myself, but I wanted to hear if any of you have used a nutritionist before and how it worked? Did it work for you? What benefits did you get out of it?

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So What Happened?

Thank you all for your gracious advice- I was worried I would get presumptuous accusations- I have contacted three nutritionists today that I will speak to and will decide which one works best for us. I am focusing on a program that our whole family can take part in so my daughter doesn't feel singled out. After all, the focus IS on health and not on weight.

And, not to be tacky, but Carrie W.- in the future, please stick to answering the questions that Moms ask, and not making judgments based on evidence you don't have. We don't keep sugary drinks, cereals, or sweets in our home and never have. :)

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answers from New York on

I have not gone to one. If you can afford it, why not. It is a great idea to do that. They are experts and can be that extra bit of outside help you may need. Good luck!

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answers from Rochester on

A nutritionist may just go into a little more detail that your pediatrician.

It sounds like you've been doing what you can, but I'll give you my best advice. My step-daughter is obese (same age as your daughter) and I see everything her mother is doing wrong to cause this...so it's just my best advice based on that.

First, portion control. When she's here, she'll ask for seconds on everything. No child needs seconds. We, as a nation, overestimate what a portion size is. Does any child need two hot dogs? Or two hamburgers? And even with healthy foods...she wants two oranges, or two apples, two cheese sticks, etc. We serve well balanced, healthy meals...and I limit her to one serving of everything. She always asks for more, I say no, and she is fine after she gives her brain time to catch up to her body after each meal.

Second, activity. This girl's mother insists she's very active because she does dance class...well, that's 45 minutes once a week. Really, children should get at LEAST an hour of active exercise a day...or more. This girl will complain if we go to the nature center for an hour to walk...because she's just not used to it. My own children are used to it, because we do it almost every day...so they can handle it better. It takes a bit to build up your endurance.

Third, look at empty calories. Does your child drink pop or juice? Does she eat a lot of empty carbs...white bread, white rice, etc? Those are all just converted straight to sugar, and if it's not burned off, then fat. I would stress lots of water, and well balanced portion control meals. If she likes treats, sweets, etc...just don't buy them any more.

Also, school lunches in a lot of places are terrible...look at what they're serving, and consider sending a packed lunch with her instead.

I feel for you, honestly...sometimes it's hard to get control of these things.

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answers from Seattle on

Ditto MrsLa below..and ditto again.

I personally have not used a nutritionist, but I know many personally and professionally through my husband.

Most nutritionists professionally treat those with diabetes, or epilepsy patients on the Ketogenic diet, etc. So their education is geared more towards people with medical problems or diseases. Since your daughter has tested normal, she does not have an underlying medical condition - yet. Although she is posed for developing diabetes.

N., you need to be honest about the types and quantities of food you have available in your home. And you need to honestly assess 'plenty of exercise.' 1-2 x week is not enough.

My personal observation of over weight kids is that they are quite lethargic at home, usually parked in front of the TV eating, or reading with a bowl of snacks next to them. And there are lots of big portions of processed foods, snacks, desserts around. And they whine for these types of foods, and become upset if they don't get them.

You must go back to basic foods, meaning Protein, Complex Carbohydrates and fresh fruits and veggies. Nothing more.

For instance, I only make desserts for birthday's in our home. Otherwise, we don't eat dessert. I do have a few chocolates around. And will make cookies at Christmas. But it's not a big part of our diet. OK, I'll be honest, my husband picked up donuts for the kids this week. But, I have skinny kids and a treat once in a while is no biggie...every day and every week is a problem.

I would also recommend watching the Dr. Phil segment with Kim Snyder and the show of a mom with her very over weight child. It's hard to see ourselves in these situations. This mom could totally not see herself and how she over fed her kid.

Also, make sure meal time is a loving, nurturing experience. I always sit down with my kids when they eat....always. We chat. It takes up a lot of my time..but being emotionally satisfied is just as important as being nutritionally satisfied.

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answers from Dallas on

My niece is quite over weight and she spends a month with us every summer. One thing I noticed is that she is used to drinking sweet tea non-stop. I only serve her water and skim milk when she is with us, and she adjusts just fine. But why not try a nutritionist? Better to make improvements now before the tween and teen years when she will really start to feel the social pressure. Good luck. :)

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answers from Philadelphia on

Yes, I have and it worked out very well. It was pricey, but I didn't have to go too many times to get the gist, if you know what I mean. She took a bit of her blood and put it under a microscope and found that she had a lot of fungus in her blood, probably due to many antibiotics in her past. (ear infections mainly) She put her on a cleanse, which excluded most grains, except for anything from Berlin Bakery (spelt flour) because she explained that most grains sit in silos and become moldy. bla, bla, bla it also excluded dairy and sugar. She could resume dairy when the 8 weeks were over. I really liked her. Janice Picking was her name and she is in NJ, which I see is far from you. Anyway, it was rough, but I saw such improvements with her. Her final advise when we were through was to keep an eye on her energy level. That is the key to making sure she is eating the foods her body likes. So, I like the idea as long as you can afford it and you find a reputable one. Good luck. So long as your daughter knows to eat for health, not beauty,and that the weight will come off slowly, but as a benefit of healthy living.

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answers from Dallas on

we did visit a child nutritionist once and a dietician another time. The dietician was a little more aggressive on weight loss. The child nutritionist wanted to make minor changes in diet and said she would probably start growing in height and everything would balance out. You can also check with the YMCA - some of them have special programs for kids and teens. The program is divided into eating healthy, exercise (individual & group) and self esteem building. Great job to take action now while you can still give guidance on food.

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answers from Detroit on

If I were you I would start with the below mentioned blog before I spend the money. Her tips and blog has really changed things around for me and I cannot recommend her web site enough! She is a nutritionist. Search the web site because she just wrote a blog concerning healthy meals and snacks for children.


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answers from Indianapolis on

I have to agree with Mrslavallie (the first response you got). I think you need to stop and really be honest with yourself here...I think if you would do that you would find there are alot of things you are letting this child have that she shouldn't be having.

Pop, sweet tea, cookies, candy, more than one helping at meal time, sugary cereals, snacks after school and/or in the evening etc, etc. Children learn by example and if you have this stuff in your house and you and your husband are having it than what do you expect your child to do. I'm sure some of this is stuff you and/or your husband would say you can't live without, but guess what you can and if it is beneficial to your child than you need to do it.

Yes, there are a few kiddos that have a true health reason for being overweight, but that is very few. Otherwise kids being overweight comes from what they are getting and learning at home. I'm not trying to be nasty, but I just wish that more parents would be more honest in what they are truly letting there kids have.

For example, we are going to a high school game tonight and I know my kids will want something there. After we eat dinner they will have to choose, do they want a cookie after dinner or do they want something at the game? They aren't going to have both, you've got to teach your children how to make the right decisions, kids don't know how to do this especially when it comes to food and if you just let them be, then more than likely they are not going to make the better decision on what or how much they should be eating.

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answers from Chicago on

I have been to 2 for our dd and make sure you ask about their area of focus because while it was great the the 1 st one was passionate about peds diabetes we were there due to celiac disease. So ask if they specialist in pediatric weight issues, positive nutrition teaching and guidance for the whole family not just one child.

I had a grand fear with our obese family history that my kids would head that direction. So as soon as they could be enrolled they have been in 2 hours of organzied sports a week and also play outsidde after school an hour everyday. No electronics can go with. If it is below 15degrees or raining we then have a dance party in the house. My kids don't eat sandwiches and no whites....white flour, no sugar, no french fries, and no high processed foods. We have bowls in the fridge of cut up fruit, veggies and clean nuts on the counter in bowls. All food must be eaten sitting down at the table and we don't drink any juice at our house. My kids do drink coffee and tea with no sweetening along with milk and water. Frequent small meals and no overload meals. A quick breakfast will be the green goo smoothie. Frozen strawberries, frozen pineapple, frozen oranges, a dallop of yogurt and a splash of almond milk and a few spinach leaves. I know you asked about the nutritionist but I added. Good luck on your quest for a healthy family.

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answers from Atlanta on

I think a nutritionist is a good call. I haven't used one, but some people are genetically predispositioned to obesity. Their bodies process and store food differently than others, they have low metabolisms, etc. A nutritionist will hopefully be able to find an eating plan that suits her individually.

People who have to work to control their weight and do so successfully usually have found one of many types of "diets" (not necessarily weight loss plans, but day to day food types) that works for their bodies. Mine is very low carb, high protein -leaning in the paleo direction. I have friends who are all about portion control, but I can't eat "white" carbs -they stack weight on me at an alarming rate and make me feel terrible even in small portions. Hopefully you can find someone who will work with your daughter to find the right way of eating for her!

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answers from Boston on

Sounds like a good plan. My oldest son worked with a nutritionist, but she is a naturopath and it was in conjunction with taking supplements and changing his diet to mitigate his ADHD and some learning and behavior issues that he had when he was younger, not weight loss.

That said, the plan should be similar - a good nutritionist will have you keep a food diary for her (and in your case, an activity log should be used as well). She should introduce one or two changes a week, not just hand you a dietary plan and say good luck. So...week one might be to start each day with a healthy breakfast that contains lean protein, good fats and complex carbohydrates and increase activity by x number of minutes y times a week (maybe you go for a walk or bike ride before dinner, or if you drive to school, park 1/2 a mile away and walk the rest of the way, or play basketball outside, or dance, whatever). Then another week might focus on portion control at dinner and filling up on soup, salad or water if seconds or larger portions are the norm until she gets used to feeling full on smaller portions and, as someone mentioned below, giving her brain the 20+ minutes it needs to get the signal from the stomach that it is full. Another week might focus on snacks, or beverages, or lunches. These small changes tackled one at a time, over time, should lead to changes.

Working with a nutritionist is a great way to hold yourself accountable for what your daughter eats and does - we know if our heads what is reasonable and healthy (or think we do) but actually seeing things on paper can be eye-opening, and having another person's perspective can be great. I have a friend whose children are both overweight and they have been for years. She truly thinks that the twice a week swim lesson and whatever they do in school (PE, recess) qualifies them as "active" yet when I see them, they don't look active to me. My boys who are the same age literally run, jump and play all day long. They do organized sports but it's really the all day, every day attitude of why walk when you can run, why go in a straight line when you can bounce and zig-zag, why sit and watch TV when you can watch TV while standing on your head or wrestling, why walk into your room and lay on your bed when you can run down the hall, jump over and obstacle, swing off of something and somersault into bed that makes them burn calories all day, every day. If she's not that kind of "bounce off the walls" child - and not everyone is - then you may need to carve out more time for activity than you would think is needed.

Good for you for pursuing this...I hope you get good results - she'll thank you in the long run for preventing later health problems and body image issues!

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answers from Las Vegas on

I have had the same situation with my son who had always been a bit over-weight. Most assume that we drink soda, eat fast food , etc etc.. However, quite the contrary, in fact, he eats better than his classmates (as can be seen from the lunches they bring to school) that often have processed foods and or sugary drinks included. Anyway, my son LOVES water, loves most vegetables (even more so when they are raw) and will eat pretty much anything I give to him.. However, what I come to realize it's not that he is eating poorly perse but it's a couple of things, his portion even if healthy food has been too big.. Additionally, we've cut back on the white flour and or other insulin raising foods..by that, I am not talking sugar (he gets very little of that) I am talking about the myriad of foods that can make your insulin rise and therefore, block the fat... in other words, cause belly fat.. So far, since keeping to this strategy, over time, his belly has slimmed down ... I notice a big difference on a day when he may have had pasta for example.. I can see the next day how he looks slightly "puffier" as it were :) it's subtle but I can see the difference.. Also, like your child, he exercises a lot (we are big walkers in our family) and seldom drive to many places. it's not uncommon for us to take him on a walk that will be 5 to 7 miles..

try eliminating some of the insulin raising foods (that is IF you haven't already) ..Oh and I have also eliminated Bananas and other High Glycemic fruits.. for now, it just makes sense and has been wking..

try this approach and see how it goes. you may notice a big difference..

good luck to you and your family

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answers from Dallas on

No, I haven't, but the internet and the library are wonderful tools. I have educated myself on eating properly as well as supplementation for proper nutrition. If you already know these things I'm not sure what you are expecting from a nutritionist.

Does your daughter over eat? You mentioned portion control, and that is a biggy. Most people don't realize what that actually means. For an adult the meat he/she eats at a meal should be no bigger than a deck of cards or a computer mouse. How much meat is your daughter eating at a meal, for example. It should not be as much as an adult.

You might consider finding a bio-chemist to evaluate your daughter.

I think it is really important to focus on your daughters self image by finding her activities that she can excel at, building her confidence. There may be a feeling in her gut that is anxiety for example that she thinks is hunger. Figure out her triggers and do the best you can to help her re-train her thinking.

In that regard You might check out this book: The Beck Diet Solutions



answers from Des Moines on

Have you consulted a pediatric endocrinologist? Insurance WOULD cover that and they might have more ideas too....Especially with puberty approaching

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