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"Is there any dinner left?" -- An hour after dinner

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 
My 7 YO has started a new habit about a month ago that is driving me nuts. She has never been a big eater. In fact, she is underweight to begin with and her ADHD medicine is clearly suppressing her appetite, so I don't want to deny her food. But she eats a tiny portion (think toddler portion or smaller, especially of the protein) at dinner, then wants a second helping heated up an hour or so later. I have always been committed to hassle-free eating. But I'd love for her to eat more while sitting at the dinner table and skip the second round, mostly because it interferes with the bedtime routine (delaying her getting to bed) and sometimes there isn't dinner leftovers and then I'm making something for her to eat or she makes something to eat and a complete mess of the kitchen.

Background: Dinner is pleasant and a family ritual, she generally likes what I am serving, and may be excused whenever she asks. Our rule is that she isn't forced to eat anything she doesn't like but can get herself a substitute for disliked items. We are moderately healthy omnivore eaters. She is mostly eating a tiny dinner, a dessert (moderately healthy, again small portion) about an hour later (this is normal routine for us) and then this second dinner round about 15-30 minutes after that. I vehemently disagree with the "take one more bite" sort of thing, though I'm rethinking that, because I can't possibly know when she is full and I don't want her to ignore her body's signals. As I said, she is underweight but I am obese and I am desperate to not have her look like me. Up until now I have been entirely happy with the way we have handled food and have been known to brag on it a bit. (Karma strikes again, I suppose).

Thoughts and ideas?
post #2 of 33
Might it have something to do with what time her medication is wearing off?
post #3 of 33
What if you reserved a plate for her while serving dinner? Then that way you don't have to worry about it running out, and you can just stick the plate in the microwave later.

I'm saying this not to be overly accomodating to the child, but I have a 7 year old picky, underweight child as well. I think when they are that thin, their stomachs just can't handle that much food at once. We do eat dinner (he does the toddler portion as well, my 4 year old daughter eats more than him) and he does need a bedtime snack. As he is not a dinner fan anyway (must be coerced to eat at least some), we usually do a platter of various things at bedtime (fruit, veggies, cheese, meat, nuts, etc).

I don't have any more advice, because frankly feeding my son sometimes is very soul-draining on me, lol.
post #4 of 33
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by lolar2 View Post
Might it have something to do with what time her medication is wearing off?
Oh, sorry, forgot that detail. The medication is new (2nd week), the behavior started before the RX did. Though I do have some hope that maybe when we get to the right time-released meds (still easing on) that maybe this might clear up -- that maybe she is just distracted by dinner and sitting to eat a full portion is just too long for her.
post #5 of 33
I agree that it might have something to do with her medication wearing off.

It's also possible that she *is* full at dinner and then hungry again later. It can be tough for a small growing person to eat as much as they need in a single sitting, and appetite supressing medication may make it very difficult to force more bites at dinner time. I'd think you just need to work a bedtime snack into the routine, and either make extra and set aside some leftovers or stock up on things for sandwiches.

I think it's great that she's asking for more of dinner - nutritionally, that's far better than filling up on sweets or junk food before bed.
post #6 of 33
I think making a second plate that can go in the microwave later is a good idea. I wouldn't go to a lot of hassle for it, but a quick zap in the microwave can't be too bad. Plus, at seven, she's old enough to completely clean up the mess herself.

Sometimes, this is just a habit, and she THINKS she needs to eat again. But, just in case she really is hungry, at least you know she's not going to bed hungry, and she's not asking for Twinkies at bedtime.
post #7 of 33
Does it only happen with dinner? Or does she do the same thing at breakfast and lunch?

Some people are grazers - they tend to eat several small meals through the day, rather than 3 large ones for breakfast/lunch/dinner.

If eating close to bedtime is the real issue, could you adjust meal times a little? Perhaps give her something between lunch and dinner - sort of "afternoon tea" - and then serve the family dinner a little later than you are now, so that the family meal ritual is preserved.
post #8 of 33
it could also just be a change in eating style esp. if the weather is changing.

the reason i say this is coz my 7 year old dd has been doing the same thing off and on and i notice it is brighter warmer outside and the days are getting longer.

dd is comfortable cooking. so she makes herself some toast or sandwich or fries some eggs or gets herself some cereal. or fruit and cheese. i am usually doing homework.

yes it messes with our bedtime routine too - but i think i have discovered we are a family where a strict asleep by 9 pm or even in bed by 9pm has never really worked. keeping a target of between 830 and 930 has worked better.

could it also be growth spurt? dd goes thru that in summer. oh man not only does she out eat me (we dont really do big main meals but small frequent meals) but she eats more frequently.
post #9 of 33
Can you give her something healthy and quick to get ready like yogurt, a cheese stick, some lunch meat, or an apple when she asks for more food later in the night? When my dd picks at food then asks for more very quickly afterwards I offer her something that is healthy, but not necessarily her favorite food. I used to go all out and try to find the most appetizing thing, but I have found that if I don't get in the habit of serving tantalizing late night snacks she tends to eat at dinner time and not at night. The only time I make an exception to this is on dessert nights when she eats a lot of really healthy food at dinner time and is too full for dessert.
post #10 of 33
I would plan a regular snack before bed so it doesn't interfere with bedtime. Either a leftover plate as pp have suggested or an apple and glass of milk, cereal, toast, something like that. If it's planned it won't be so much of a hasle.
post #11 of 33
I agree with ollyoxenfree. What time do you have dinner? You say that she's asking for more an hour after dinner, and it's during bedtime routine. What if you pushed dinner back by 30 minutes, so you are finishing up eating just 30 minutes before bedtime routine, and then giving her a small snack earlier in the afternoon to tide her over?

This is kind of how we do it and it seems to work well for our just-turned-8 year old. She is not a picky eater at all and we always have great healthy options available that she can get herself. But we still have what we call "5 o'clock tea" with a small snack, then we have supper around 7PM. Her bedtime is 8:30 and she almost never asks for a bedtime snack, but on those rare occasions, she knows what she can have and she's welcome to get it herself and clean up the mess.
post #12 of 33
I'd probably start a before bed snack time. Save her a bit of dinner and that can be her snack.
post #13 of 33
15-30 minutes later doesn't really sound like that big of a deal to me. I would make her plate at dinner and then what she does not finish I would let her heat up later.

is she getting up from the table and then coming back. how about asking her to stay at the table and be social even if she is not hungry. that might encourage her to hit the seconds a little sooner. on the other hand maybe she feels full while sitting there and then gets up, moves around, and that is what clears the room for a little more food.

Since she does this almost every night though I would just make sure you have the seconds on the plate and ready to go before she ever asks for them. if there is often not enough left overs perhaps cook with that second helping in mind. I mean it does not matter if she eats it all at once or comes back for seconds there still has to be a certain amount of food for her. for my 7 year old I would just put the second on her plate right away and pop it in the fridge. she knows how to use a microwave.

if it is interfering with bed time move up supper a half an hour. another option is to feed her round one half an hour before supper, an appatizer sort of deal, a cup of yogurt, a few carrot sticks, a granola bar, and then have her eat supper with the family when round two of her appitite hits.

when my children need something after supper (not often) i do not let them make a messy subsitute. they may have a peice of fruit. a prepared vegetable, or a bowl of cereal depending on the need. if we ate supper early they may have any leftovers. nothign messy though.
post #14 of 33
If my son does the "I'm full" thing but it is clear he just wants to get down to play I will ask "are you sure you are full? Or do you just want to go play" Generally it is that he wants to play. In this case I tell him he needs to sit with us a few minutes longer and that he can't play right now. Because of this he usually eats more food as he has to sit there anyway.
post #15 of 33
Mine are 7 and 5, and about a year and a half ago I finally just gave up. We have dinner around 6, bedtime is around 8:30. Now, I don't even fight it - at around 8:00 I start announcing "Last call for food" and I *always* have both of them asking for a snack. I think part of it is that at this age they're old enough to realize that if they're waking up starving then having a before bed snack will take that edge off. What I've always heard is that for the average person your stomach is about the size of your fist. That gets filled up pretty fast in small children! So our kids know that they do not get things full of sugar or really any major sweets or dessert after a certain time, but fruit, yogurt cheese, certain cereals, etc. are available for them. If your DD is actually asking for more of dinner food rather than something that's a snack or treat, I think that says a lot about her actually being genuinely hungry.

I also have to say that posts like this make me realize how much I underestimate and over protect my kids. 7 year old frying eggs and using the microwave?? LOL I thought I was doing good teaching DS to use the toaster! Maybe it would be ok to start expanding his kitchen skills a bit I'm thinking!
post #16 of 33
Originally Posted by Kuba'sMama View Post
What if you reserved a plate for her while serving dinner? Then that way you don't have to worry about it running out, and you can just stick the plate in the microwave later.
I think when they are that thin, their stomachs just can't handle that much food at once. ...
I have a skinny, underweight DH, and he's the same way. Eats about as much as my two year old, and then goes back for "second dinner" and "third dinner" later in the evening. He is genuinely full and then hungry again.

One option is to serve her "early" dinner instead of "late" dinner -- she might be ready to eat a serving of real food at mid afternoon; that way it won't interfere with bedtime and she'll still get enough.

Or as other posters suggested, planning for it by putting aside a plate at the beginning so others don't eat "her" portion at dinner. I'll do that for DH sometimes, particularly if one course is something people like and will overeat on (especially me ) instead of other courses and I know he'll be hungry for the rest of his portion later.
post #17 of 33
I often do not feel hungry at "dinner time" but everyone else is so that's when we eat. I'll eat some but then I tend to get really hungry about an hour or so later so I make myself a sandwich or have a bowl of cereal. I've just always been like that. It usually makes no difference when or if I snack either. I don't really get it but now I just go with it.
post #18 of 33
I don't always eat breakfast because it sometimes leaves me hungrier than if I skip it. It may have something to do with her blood sugar levels, and if so and you want her to eat more anyway, maybe just set a plate aside, otherwise, maybe you can feed her higher amounts of fats/proteins at dinner or give her an appetizer an hour before the actual dinner
post #19 of 33
I find my 4 yos eat a better dinner if they have a snack 1/2 to 1 hour or so before dinner. It's usually bits and pieces of what I'm chopping for dinner but if there's nothing snackable in that I put something else healthy on the table that they can munch on.
post #20 of 33
I would do that when I was a kid. Still do sometimes. I'll eat until I'm full and because my metabolism was so fast (especially when I was younger, it's slowed down some) I'd be hungry again not long after a meal and go looking for a snack or something else. I agree that creating an extra plate for her to heat up later would be a good idea or keeping some sandwich fixings or stuff along those lines on hand for her would be good. She's listening to her body and when it's telling her it's full or hungry, which is a good trait to have and encourage IMO.
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