Overweight 4 Year Old, Need Advice and Maybe Some Recipes!

Updated on August 04, 2011
S.F. asks from Hawthorne, NY
24 answers

Hi Moms,
I have a 4 year old daughter who has been overweight since she was 2. She was always a healthy eater, I never gave her junk but didn't deprive her of a few things now and then. She was always a water drinker (no juice). Basically, she was a good eater, but not an overeater. This has changed. I tried a nutritionist and that helped, but unfortunately Insurance does not cover that, and we cannot afford it. We started a healthy book, and we kept a journal (with her) on all the things she ate throughout the day. She would get stickers everyday that she ate healthy, which was just about everyday. I know I am part of the problem because I let the healthy book go. She was doing so well, I thought we could just go with it. She never seems full.. she is always asking for more saying she is still hungry, and I am amazed at how much she can eat in one sitting. She is also looking for the junkfood now, which I try not to keep in the house. I want to say I know what to do, it's common sense, but then why do I feel like I am struggling?? Maybe you have some good healthy snack or meal recipes that would grab her attention, something special I could try that won't be so bad for her? She is almost 70lbs. and only turned 4 in Oct. I am scared for her. I feel like I am rambling, but I am just trying to get everything out. I don't need to be criticized, believe me I am my worst critic here.. I am asking for help.. Please!!

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So What Happened?

Of course nothing has happened yet, I just wanted to take a moment to thank ALL of you for your help and support. I have read so many great ideas, and so many things that could possibly be an issue. I wanted to add that my husband and I are both overweight, not obese, but def. not at healthy weights. It pretty much runs in both our families which is why I was always so careful with her from the start. There is no food she does not like, healthy or not. She is a huge veggie and fruit eater, but she even tends to go overboard on those things. I am going to keep talking to doctors, lessen TV and computer time (which do seem to be trigger times) ..as well as when she is bored. As you said, the beautiful weather is coming and we will definitely be taking more walks. I also looked into signing her up for AYSO soccer. We did dance class when she was 3 and she cried and did not participate. She talks about going back, but I am not sure how much exercise she gets through that. School food is terrible, and I have made her own lunch from home, but then she sees what everyone else has and wants it. I gave up that fight, after telling the teachers to cut down on her portion size. She seems to do better in school with her eating, probably because she has no time to be bored, and they will be on the playgrounds more now that the winter is over. It seemed easier to respond to all your help this way.. I thank you all for being understanding and not critical of my parenting. I really DO appreciate each and every response! Thank you from the bottome of my heart, and I will keep you posted!!!

More Answers


answers from Johnson City on

Hey there, I just had to respond, since my husbands sister went through the same thing with her daughter. She weighed about 65 pounds when she had her 4 year old well child check. We know with her that it has so much to do with genetics. The best case senerio is that she will most likely always be at the top of the chart on her weight. We have taken that into consideration and decided to help her be healthy. Not thin. At the age of 9 she is 5'1" and weighs 100 lbs. Her mom never once mentioned the word diet or over weight to my neice. She did get her involoved in some activities that would help burn calories. She started Tball and swim lessons. She now plays softball and is on the local clubs swim team. I took her to some childrens cooking classes at a local college. She and her mom started taking time on the weekends to prepare meals. We did not speak much about healthy to her. We used the words yummy and delicious to descibe the food we ate. Her mom stopped buying fatty foods and snacks completely. It was not easy but we played it off by telling her that we wanted to be special and have fun by making and eating different food. After about 9 months it just became normal. She still ate cupcakes at bitthday parties and candy on halloween, but we did try to make it less than normal. We all had to do it with her. I hope that you can get some other people on board to help you. My sister-n-law did not let her watch a lot of TV because we noticed that she had a tendency to ask for snack foods more when she did. We all kept snacks on hand for her, like Flovored rice cakes. She loved the carmel ones. Rice crispie treats were a fav. Fruit and yogourt and unsweetened drinks helped. She made her own trail mix with unsalted nuts, raisins, cheerios and a couple of chocolate chips. She was never allowed a snack unless she had eaten her meals. Therefore she really did not ask for snack often.(she filled up on her meal) Keeping her busy kept her mind off of being hungry. She is still large for her age. She always will be I think. She is not unhealthy or considered obese anymore by the Dr.'s She fits in well at school and is the star athelete on her softball team. She loves to cook and automatically looks for nutritious menus due to the classes that we took. I hope that all my rambling helps you somehow.

I am a proud aunt of a beautiful and healthy 9 year old girl. If I can help you more with food ideas, just email.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Raleigh on

I have a friend that had a similar situation and after a year of drs and such discovered that her daughter was insoline resistant and had severe reflux causing severe damage to her teeth w/ lots of cavaties. The signs that she is extremely hungry and craves junk food which I assume are high in sugar might be a sign that there are other problems present! Good luck and trust your instinct. Keep on your dr @ the problem.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Memphis on

You're struggling because you want to give your daughter what she wants to eat -- it's easier for you. I struggle with that, too, with my 2-y/o son, when he wants to eat just the foods he likes and never the foods he doesn't like. Two tips: 1) don't buy junk food or keep it in the house; that way, it will be less of a temptation for you to let your daughter have it. If you do get food she shouldn't eat, don't let her know about it and keep it high in the cupboard or even in your closet or under your bed or somewhere she won't think to look or can't get to, so she can't accidentally or purposefully find it. 2) Make sure she's getting enough activity. You may need to have a "no TV or computer" week and see how much more active she will be. It's springtime, so she'll probably be able to play outside most days. You may have to play with her a lot in the times when you're off work, to encourage her to get moving, but it's important she not start off down the road to obesity so young, and this can help.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Memphis on

If your child is eating healthy and getting exercise, please have them checked out. I have a friend whose daughter went through this. For years she had issues, at around 3rd grade she had her tested for diabetes, endocrinology issues, etc. Nothing. They finally ended up at a pschologist. She has an oral fixation that is magnified by her ADD. Medication and cognitive behavioral therapy have helped her physically, socially and academically.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Raleigh on

I would get a workup done on her. Take her to a large med center. See what an endocrinologist has to say. Also, look into your family background, are there, were there heavy people? Is she getting plenty of outdoor exercise? Do you both walk a mile a day?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Nashville on

I have 2 bits of adive. First track her calories on www.everydayhealth.com, its free and it keeps track of not only your calories, but fat intake, sodium, sugar, etc. and second, make sure her thyroid is ok. Has the doctor ordered any blood tests for her? As for the food diary, be careful with focusing so much on food with her, it can set her up for eating disorders later in life. Like for snack offer her her choice of apple or cheese stick. both are healthy options and she still feels in control.
also consider putting her into dance, soccer, tumbling, karate, etc.


answers from Clarksville on

Hi. I just wanted to tell you about the way I eat. I eat according to my blood type. There is a book out by Dr. Peter J.D' Adamo called Eat Right For Your Blood Type. I have been eating this way for 8 or so years. It's a eating style to staying healthy, living longer & achieving your ideal weight. It might help you daughter. It also goes into exercises that are best for blood types. It's easy to understand & if you set your mind to it, it's not hard to change your eating habbits. I have found myself feeling so much better since I have ate this way. I just had my second baby 3.5 months ago & I'm already back to pre pregancy size. I went from 158pds down to 125pds just by eating the foods that promote weight loss & staying away from the foods the promote weight gain in my blood type. Maybe this could help your daughter out. I wish you luck & God bless.

P.S. Here's an example:
Blood type O's
Foods that aids in weight loss:
Kelp, seafood, salt, liver, red meat, kale, spinach & broccoli.
Then foods that promote weight gain:
wheat, corn, kidney beans, navy beans,lentils,cabbage,brussels sprouts,cauliflower & mustard greens.
Those are just foods that promote weight loss & weight gain. There are a bunch of other foods that are neutral that don't make you gain or loose.



answers from Huntington on

I see you have already posted a "how it went" comment, so I hope you continue to read comments!

If you have not already done so, you may want to talk to your doctor and rule out a rare disorder called, "Prader Willi Syndrome". It is a genetic disorder and it causes people/children to have uncontrollable appetites. I used to be a social worker who worked with children with genetic disorders and this was one I saw, but it is so rare, even doctors don't always think to look for it and just assume parents are neglecting their children by allowing them to become so overweight.

Hopefully, that is not your situation, but I just wanted to share this with you. Best of luck to you and your family!!!



answers from Raleigh on

I am so sorry to hear your struggle. Have you talked to her doctor about this? Sounds like some testing could be in order to rule out any underlying endocrine problems or something else. There might be a reason why this is happening that needs to be addressed.
I hope you find some resolve.



answers from Asheville on

Hi S., I understand what you are going through. I have 8 chidren, 3 grown and 5 at home, so I have some experience. My 15yr old son started putting on weight when he was around 3 or 4. I tried everything to help him loose weight, but nothing worked, he just kept getting bigger. I finally started reading up on the serving size of everything we ate and soon realized I was letting him eat too much. I had to be tough and say that's enough when he asked for more. He started losing weight (20 lbs) and becoming more active. Also I require my kids to exercise at least 1 hr per day, and limit the T V and computer. I read the Maker's Diet about 3 yrs ago and I highly recommend it. Stay away from fast food and processed foods. Some people just have a slow metabolism and have to eat less than others to maintain a normal weight. I hope this helps! Blessings, M. Weaver



answers from Louisville on

my cousin was similar to what you are saying. he has always been a big boy in fact when my aunt was having him the doctor had to get on her belly and push him out! their is a GREAT website called sparkpeople.com it is awesome! they have a section just for recipes and they are great! most of them have ratings so you can see what other people said. they also have a food tracker and an exercise tracker so you can put in what you ate that day and what the total calories are... also look in to joining a a YMCA they are great and they can help you get her in sports or swim classes and all kinds of fun stuff. but the most important thing is DO IT WITH HER. this is not just a one way street, if she sees you making good choices chances are she will too. good luck let us know how it goes!
ps just wanted to add that i saw dr phil is having a show on this topic on thursday you may want to check it out



answers from Fayetteville on

My fantastic eater turned into the pickiest thing ever so I got the cookbook "Deceptively Delicious" by Jessica Seinfeld and "The Sneaky Chef" (www.thesneakychef.com) and they have some good ideas-and the food is good-even my husband loves it. It seems like a lot of work but once you get the purees done and portioned, its pretty easy-you just lay out the puree and say, your frozen meat and they're thawed at the same time. If you're already cooking dinner (as opposed to a tuna helper and mac n cheese which takes no time at all) its not a chore. Also, you might have her write down how she feels before and after meals, emotionally, in case that's what is driving her appetite. My sister married a man with full custody of his 2 daughters and the transition was difficult for his eldest and she emotionally ate-it took a little digging to figure out that's what it was since its hard to figure out your feelings at a young age anyway. You're doing a great parenting job already by reaching out and utilizing your resources! Also, maybe you could make up her meals (breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner) so she just grabs them and they're all ready as opposed to giving her time to think about it. Working full time makes time an issue, I know. Good luck-give her a hug and one for you too! It'll be ok :)



answers from Jacksonville on

I'm so sorry to hear that you are going through this, and for the way the kids are going to react in the coming years. Both of you Hang in there. I just would leave out all sweets and go with the fruits. When my son now 8 was 2 I had a similar problem and we just got more active and had healthier eating habits. Blanched veggies in a stir fry with meat, noodles and very little oil. Now that summer is coming you should be able to come up with a lot of healthier snacks. I would water down ranch dressing to have as a dip for carrots, cucumber, bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, and zucchini sticks. I would try new things and not tell the kids a thing about what it was and for the most part the loved it. I would cut things up picnic style and eat on the go. There's a great diet that's been around forever. It's to eat things that are the highest in water content. Ex eat grapes instead of raisins. Having more water on hand has helped me. Get her into a placed that does more activities or spend more of your free time (believe me I know how this sounds ...impossible) getting out more and do more. Look for 10-15 different kinds of leaves, or bugs. She won't feel punished if you do it with her and make it fun. Good luck.



answers from Louisville on

Oh, honey, I'm sorry! It's hard to put a hold on your kids eating habits...mine are terrible but my children seem to do well. I do have a 12 yr old that has been eating more lately and gaining a little weight. It's my fault...after our move I haven't found a gymnastics place to put them in again. I personally feel that diets at this age are just wrong. For one, you'll cause them to be overly concerned with their weight which can turn into more weight gain or dangerous weight loss and eating disorders. Keep the frest fruits on hand for snacks in between meals. Make sure your meals are full of veggies 1/2 of plate, breads or starch 1/4 of plate and meats 1/2. that's our usual rule of thumb for pts that are trying to lose weight. And get her active! There are lots of places to get her busy, my son and youngest daughter play t-ball and softball. Soccer is also a great cardio activity. Bike riding if you have the area available. Anything that gets her up and moving! I tend to frown on gymnastics if there is a weight issue on hand, simply because they stress a certain weight sometimes....at her age it probably wouldn't be a problem...I hope this helps and I wish you the very best of luck. Take care!



answers from Knoxville on

Try giving her foods that are higher in fiber. This will help her to feel full longer. Drinking a lot of water is really good as well. Make sure that she is active. If your intake of calories are higher than calories burned you won't loose any weight. Good Luck!



answers from Owensboro on

Hi S.,
My neice has the same issue with her weight, however, I due beleive in part, due to her parents and their lack of concern. I started watching her quite frequently and noticed that when she became bored or upset, she wanted to eat. I began planning activities with her to keep her occupied, like treasure hunts and hide and go seek with stuffed animals. ( I hid them and she had to find them. If she sound them all, and was still complaining of hunger, I'd give her half an apple sliced or the equivalant of another fruit) Also, when she got upset, I would have her tell me about the problem and try to work it out without food.
Every child is different, and tends to overeat for different reasons. If I was you, I would study her for a couple days to see if you can tell her triggers. Then maybe you can come up with your own plan to help her. Also, give her plenty of playtime outside, at a park or even in your backyard. That way, she can begin to get herself back down to a healthy weight.
Just know, that for whatever reason she is at the wieght she is, you are concerned enough to help her now, before it gets completely out of control. Even small healthy changes at her age, can make a big difference. Good luck and be ptient with her. It will take a while to get her where she should be. Don't push it, because if you do, she'll rebel, and you'll be in worse shape then you are now.
Hope I helped and if you need more advise contact me at [email protected]____.com. I would love to help in any way that I can



answers from Greensboro on

I agree with the other responses, but I'll throw in something different. I wanted to ask if she's been on alot of antibiotics growing up. This can have a serious impact on weight. It can cause our bodies to become filled with yeast and actually crave certain foods. Then, even after eating them, we can still be hungry. You mentioned that she never seems satisfied. On the other hand, there might be something medical going on. She may be lacking the chemical that signals the brain to tell the body to stop eating. I would keep seeking doctors who can help.

Please don't beat yourself up about this. I'm sure there is a good explanation. Hopefully you can find out what it is so she can get back on track. Definitely don't make a huge issue out of this to her because you don't want her to grow up with self-esteem problems, especially being a girl, it won't take much. Keep up the good work and know that your daughter loves you.



answers from Seattle on

How is she doing now I would love to know? My daughter is 4 and is 64 lbs & she is 45 inches tall for a soon to be 4 year old. I am very worried for her she is active we are outside all day. She plays with other 4 year olds and keeps right up with them. My husband is 240 @ 6'1 I am 124 lb'8.5 but his side iof the family are heavy. I dont give her soda everything is sugar free as far as drinks, and popicles. I only buy skim milk and she only drinks that once a day if that she doesnt really like milk. I buy 100 calorie snacks, fat free hot dogs when she gets them, fat free mayo for tuna or salads. She usues mustard instead of ketsup. I do buy 99% fatfree raviolli's every once in awhile she does eat 1/2- 3/4 of can which is too much for a 4 year.She loves vegables and Igive them to her alot. I really dont undrstand what elnse to do. Friends family even say the dont understand why she is so heavy so went from a littleoverweight to obesse fast. I am scared for her. I have taken to Dr they say watch what she eats. Believe me I do take her out to play I do I am outside all day with her. Help me anyone please.....


answers from Memphis on

Does she has any other medical things going on with her? Stomach aches, diarrhea, constipation? Weird as it may sound, our bodies often crave the very thing we're allergic too. I'd be curious if she has other things going on as well.



answers from Charlotte on

I dont know your budget, but it sounds like she needs to be in dance class, karate class or something that will get her moving and jumping, NOW! If you wait a few more years, she might not be interested. If you can afford it, ask around and sign her up today! :-)



answers from Charlotte on

"Deceptively Delicious" cook book. Just do it!!! and get rid of high fructose syrup. read the labels of everything. fruits and veggies with granola and low fat vanilla yogurt to dip it in. and you eat it too, she will eat what she sees you eat. Watch TV with no comertials for food. Try PBS and Noggin. and Good luck



answers from Wilmington on

I think you've gotten some excellent suggestions already. I agree with increasing her activity.
What's not mentioned yet is turning off the TV and exercising together.
I recommend that you and she schedule walks, runs, bicycling together. You can carry some healthy picnic snacks with you.
I find that my family and I eat more when we're at home watching TV or bored.
She doesn't necessarily have to learn words like diet and weight loss, but she will learn that exercise is important.
As she exercises more, hopefully she'll use more calories than she takes in.

You don't go into any detail about how the preschool feeds and exercises the kids, but make sure they are feeding and exercising her healthily without making it an issue.



answers from Knoxville on

I am a single full time father of 2. My daughter is in the second grade. She had been having weight issues for about a year now. She weighted around 95 pounds. She eats very well salads, fuit, green vegitables and no junk food, I don't buy it. Several months ago I took her for an annual physical. We discovered she had an under active thyroid. The doctor put her on synthroid and changed her eating lifestyle. No flour no processed foods no foods with trans fats and no sugared drinks except milk. She can eat wheat (dont get enriched or bleached foods), cornmeal, brownrice, wheat bread and have have gone to frozen or fresh fruits and vegitables instead of canned, smaller proportions on meat such as gound beef. The doctor told me the object was keeping her sugar down because you do not want her insullin to turn on when her sugar is high because that turns on the fatty cells. I am treating the situation as if she is a diabetic. I have sent alot of time at the stores reading about every label on product to see if she needs them. I the last few months her weight has maintained or may have even lost a few pounds. They are still working with her meds to get her thyroid to the right level. I hope this will help.



answers from Texarkana on

I so understand where you are comeing from. my Little girl has just turned 4 in April of this year. and we are going threw the same thing you are. she is 4 years old and weighs 79 pounds. Ive cut out all the junk food comeing in the house i have cutt all the pops comeing into the house. if it's not crystal light or propel or tea we dont drink it. i just dont know wat to do anymore. And i'm tired of driving back and forth to little rock apts and people downing me about my little girl weight problem. she has no health issues. and i'm in the same postion you are in she keeps trying to come back for seconds. i tell her to goto her room and i will bring her some more and i never do. within 20 min she has done forgot about food and doesn't come back and ask for more. then sometimes i tell her give your self 20 min and if your still hungry in 20 min we will get us a snak well it's working so far. she never returns for more after 20 min are up. and the doctors have tought me that. but as far as getting to cook better. i just dont knw wat els to do i miss been able to pick my baby up i can't even pick her up anymore cause she is so heavey. so if all possible i need some feed back as well on wat to do about my little girl been over weight. some good source of cookin skills how to count calories and get her to do something.

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