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Adoption related-Still food obsessed  

post #1 of 343
Thread Starter 
Hello,

I was typing this out and accidentally hit something that erased everything, but i apologize if this comes through twice. I'm starting over now...

We adopted a little girl from Ethiopia 11 months ago. She is now 19 months old. She has always been food obsessed. We have still made no progress. I have written to you guys before, and I am begging for some help because no one I have been to or talked to has given me anything that can solve this problem. I have tried multiple suggestions, and everything seems to make this problem worse.

For example: This morning I gave K a good breakfast (1 cup adult oatmeal, whole milk yogurt mixed into oatmeal, blueberries, and a handful of Gerber puffs) We immediately drove to the park where there was a large group of moms I know meeting. As soon as we got there, though, K saw a banana that someone had. From that moment on, she would not do ANYTHING except suck her thumb, ask for food, stare at the table with snacks on it, or drink a bottle. If I tried to distract her or put her down for even a second, she would shreik like she was having pins stuck in her. The playground, the toys, other kids....NOTHING interested her. She was only focused on getting some food. I broke down and gave her a cookie, and she happily ate it, but once it was gone she only would ask for another. She was miserable, so was I, and we left early. My other kids were not happy.
As I watched other toddlers, my heart continued to sink into despair. Will I ever have that? Our dreams of having one more child to enjoy, nurture, etc., are gone, since we cannot really enjoy her unless she is eating or drinking a bottle. I have not once, in 11 months, felt like she has ever been satisfied. And if she is satisfied, it is only for 20 minutes or so until she starts asking for something else, or asking for a bottle, or if she sees food it doesn't matter if she just ate. I realize that all toddlers like to snack, taste others' food, etc., but there is NO POINT that she gets to where she has had enough and wants to other things.
At home, I can put all food away, and after a good meal she will play for a while. But if someone else wants a snack, she will be MISERABLE until she gets fed again, too.
I am at a loss. I have seen nutritionists, psychologists, etc. She is growing, gaining weight, and is getting an adequate amount of food. She is well porportioned weight to height.
She was overfed apparently, in the orphanage, and came home quite heavy. My pediatrician gave me the advice (she was wrong, I now know), to feed her a certain amount, and stop her even if she was crying for more. I did that for 3 months, and she lost some weight. When I realized how much she had lost, I asked a NEW pediatrician what to do. Her advice, as well as the nutritionist I saw, was to make sure she got 900 calories a day, and if she still wanted more, not to give it to her because that was enough (her activity level is low, and she only started walking at 18 months).
I am starting to lose my mind. I have decided I cannot go out into public anymore where there will be food. I have already stopped going to my book club and my son's playgroup, because those situations had become hours of misery as I could not focus on anything but her crying and whining for more food.
I have never gotten to the point where she is DONE. NEVER!!! Where we can happily go on to other things. Where we can do normal things again. She always wants SOMETHING. If it is not food, it is a bottle. If it is not a bottle, it is her sitting there sucking her thumb and focusing on the box of Cheerios on the counter, or my son eating a banana.

I have NO satisfaction of seeing her content as far as food goes. NONE.

I am losing my mind. Literally..

I am wondering if there is a solution, short of letting her eat nonstop, which will also curtail my regular life as I will have to stay in the kitchen all day, every day cutting up fruit or watching that she doesn't put too many Cheerios in her mouth at once. And should I let her get obese from eating nonstop and not moving from the high chair? Is it a good idea to let a child think they can eat all day every day? Will I be trading once problem for another? Will I ever have a normal life again??? I am pretty close to despair right now since I have other children and this problem is so pervasive. It is not like giving her an extra snack, or increasing her meal size, can be a solution. There IS NO amount of food that will satisfy her.

She does not have that disease that makes people eat nonstop. She has been checked by a physician. I don't know what else to do.


I am BEGGING for help. I have contacted professionals, and still have not gotten any help. She has NO attachment problems. This is definitely NOT an attachment issue.

Someone please just tell me what to do. I cannot take anymore.....

Thank you and God Bless anyone that can help me solve this so I can get our lives back and start living again.


Anna
post #2 of 343
I clicked on this thread and now I feel I should post because I don't want you to see the number of views and get discouraged. However, I am (1) not sure if I have anything I can offer you above and beyond the nutritionists and pyschologists, and I have to think about that, and (2) I am on a lunch break at work and need to get back, so will have to return to this thread later.

I hope venting was at least some release for you. Hang in.
post #3 of 343
P.S. Can you make a list of things you have tried to post here? I know you described what you did on the doctor's advice, but I am wondering about the pyschologists and other professionals.

I'd hate to make things more frustrating for you by suggesting things you have already tried. For example, have you tried giving her a fanny pack or backpack full of non-caloric and low-caloric foods (celery sticks, or the like...if she is able to handle those without choking) that she can have on her all day?
post #4 of 343
I'm sorry, you sound absolutely overwhelmed.

Would it be possible to spread out her 900 calories through out the day? Instead of 3 square meals a day and a snack, just let her eat the same amount of food all day. It would be extra work for you, but it might nurture her need to continually be eating. Let her have a continuous stream of food. Let her eat Cheerios all the time.

Did you learn anything useful about your dd from the psychologist? Is this typical behavior for these orphans?

Perhaps I'm not getting the full scope of the issue. While her eating habits and behavior don't seem typical, and they do seem extreme, I don't exactly see anything wrong with it, other than it's totally stressing you out. Understandably!
post #5 of 343
Thread Starter 
Hi,

First of all, I have no idea of any low calorie food except for rice cakes and puffs that she can have at this age. Cooked vegetables she gets at meals, but raw stuff is out of the question for this age.

But here is what happens if I give her a bag, or cup of something, with something to carry in it all day. IT IS GONE IN 5 MINUTES. Then, if I refill it, IT IS GONE AGAIN IN FIVE MINUTES. Etc., etc.......

I don't know how to do that when she will eat it ALL, NONSTOP, UNTIL IT IS DONE. I would be refilling the cup every five minutes all day. Then what? Put her in the high chair for a meal, and then let her go back to eating nonstop inbetween meals? She will not look at it and then go play. If it is there, SHE WILL NOT DO ANYTHING ELSE!!!! So I am stuck.... or so it seems.
post #6 of 343
Quote:
Originally Posted by ram3113 View Post
As I watched other toddlers, my heart continued to sink into despair. Will I ever have that? Our dreams of having one more child to enjoy, nurture, etc., are gone, since we cannot really enjoy her unless she is eating or drinking a bottle. I have not once, in 11 months, felt like she has ever been satisfied.
I just wanted to say I know how you feel and it is so hard. For my daughter it was not food, it is 100% undivided attention. If we give our other two children any attention, the negative behavior started. Watching other toddlers play used to make me cry. The good news is that things have gotten SO much better. My six year old has come so far. She is watching her brother play right now and letting me answer this question But it was very slow going. Even at six, in some ways she is still two or three.

In my experience, pediatricians are way to obsessed with weight and eating. Have you consulted a pediatrician who specializes in adoption? This is our adoption pediatrician:
http://specialists.childrenshospital...ict_id=9901160

Here is a nice article about her:

http://www.childrenshospital.org/chn...-04/angel.html

I don't know where you are located, but I wonder if contacting Dr. Alber's staff coudl help you find a similar doctor in your area. When I met with Dr. Albers, she spent a lot of time talking with us about food and food issues. Though my daughter has many issues, food is not one of them. I Know that she would have specific recommendations for your daughter.
post #7 of 343
Quote:
Originally Posted by ram3113 View Post
Hi,
I don't know how to do that when she will eat it ALL, NONSTOP, UNTIL IT IS DONE. I would be refilling the cup every five minutes all day. Then what? Put her in the high chair for a meal, and then let her go back to eating nonstop inbetween meals? She will not look at it and then go play. If it is there, SHE WILL NOT DO ANYTHING ELSE!!!! So I am stuck.... or so it seems.
Just curious, does she make herself sick?
post #8 of 343
Then maybe some intensive behavior therapy might help. I'm just winging it, and I'm not sure how to do this, but it seems to me you might be able to find a way to reward her for not eating, for learning to wait. Positive rewards for focusing on doing something else.

Forgive me, I don't remember what's developmentally typical fun for toddlers anymore my kids are older.

You'd need to start out small, like playing with her in a sand box for, like, 2 minutes. Make it clear to her that she can eat those slices of banana after she fills all three buckets of sand with the hand shovel. Then to get the rest of the banana she needs to pour sand over some toys, burying them. Show her how it's neat to watch the sand slowly pouring out of the shovel. Same thing with water instead of sand.

Read to her. One more page, then you get a bite to eat. Two more pages and you get a bite to eat. Three more pages and you get a bite to eat! Etc. Like I said, I'm making this up.

You mention a psychologist. Did the psychologist observe this behavior? A child occupational therapist might be helpful.
post #9 of 343
My suggestion would be to have her evaluated for SPD. It seems to me that she is really oral sensory seeking. If you learn some tools to increase her sensory input in other ways it could really help.
post #10 of 343
Quote:
Originally Posted by WifeMomChiro View Post
My suggestion would be to have her evaluated for SPD. It seems to me that she is really oral sensory seeking. If you learn some tools to increase her sensory input in other ways it could really help.
THis could be true, or it could also be true that oral input could help fer avoid food for a longer stretch. Maybe soemthing like a z-vibe or a vibrating teether?
post #11 of 343
i have absolutely no experience with adoptions (or two year olds, for that matter) I do have food issues, though-- My inner child would very much be like your daughter.

It sounds like your daughter had gotten used to a steady stream of food, and also uses it for comfort. Me too. I constantly need to have some thing with me; even if I've just eaten or am going to eat. As in, wake up, have breakfast, grab something to eat in the car. Go to work, hit the break room (soda, water, ect). On the way home, either eat something in the car, or think about what to eat when I get home. I'll eat 3 times in the evening; once when I get home, dinner, and right before going to bed. Here's the thing-- until I got married i had nooo idea that other people didn't eat this way. My family eats this way. Most of my extended family eats this way. Food is out all the time. (No, we aren't all overweight). It's a free for all 24-7. My mom has a special place on her counter just for snacking, and my dad would cut fresh fruit to pick at all the time. The kitchen was never closed. Not everyone was eating 24-7, but the availability was there.

I can only imagine being moved from that kind of environment to one where food was restricted. It can be very stressful. I agree with pp's to start out small, and also maybe adjust your thinking about food. Why is it that she can't eat every 20 minutes? can she carry around a watered down juice bottle? Perhaps keep a tray of small healthy finger foods out all the time?

Again, I know I don't have any experience as an adoptive parent, so please if I"ve offended or overstepped, let me know and I will edit/remove my post.
post #12 of 343
My first thought is a food intolerance. Is it possible that she's sensitive to something she eats regularly? I've heard of cases (and I've seen in myself) where bingeing is associated with trying to fill a nutritional need that's not being met because an intolerance is preventing proper absorption of nutrients. (Celiac is an excellent example, and contrary to popular thought, doesn't always cause visible signs of malnourisment.)

I don't like making food conditional upon doing other tasks first. To me that sets up a pattern that can lead to disordered eating. Of course I've not dealt directly with such issues before so I may be way off base here.

One other thought after re-reading some of the posts is that it does sound a bit like an attention/comfort issue. Does she still obsess over food when she's being held and cuddled? Does she maybe associate food with comfort?
post #13 of 343
It sounds like she gets a lot of sweet things but not a whole lot of protein. Could you try giving her something more filling for breakfast, like sausage? What about cheese for snacks? I know you are trying to watch calories, but they aren't everything. Our bodies store and process sugar differently than protein. I can eat fruit all day and not feel full. Give me some meat and/or full fat dairy and I can go until tomorrow without eating. Same for my son. Maybe you can get some whey protein powder and add it to milk or a smoothie or whatever.
post #14 of 343
Are your pediatrician and nutritionist specialized or experienced in working with kids from institutionalized settings? The advice you were given sounds more "standard" than anything I was ever told to do when caring for neglected kids or kids who hoard food as a foster parent. I'm also well experienced with pediatricians that want to force diets on kids (having a DD who is off the charts with both height and weight but because she is proportional has an excellent BMI--every pediatrician's visit they look at the weight percentile and lecture about obesity...even when I asked about her BMI they stuttered and then said, "but we only go by the weight precentile." sigh). However, it sounds like there was a legitimate concern, I just wish you had someone who could support you more than, "Eh, just only give her X amount of calories per day."

I wholeheartedly agree with Pumpkin's advice to seek out a *specialized* pediatrician and nutitionist if you've not already. I think an adoption specialist would be ideal. But if push comes to shove, I would start asking around on foster parent boards/groups to see if any of their kids have had issues with that (it's very common) and if they had any doctors that seemed to be helpful.

Low calorie foods: Have you tried soft fruits? What about those mesh-on-a-stick things that you can put an apple slice or two in for a kiddo to gnaw on ( they're more for babies though, not sure how they'd hold up to toddler teeth! Also, well, they are kind of gross and messy sometimes). Extra firm tofu (maybe not if you're concerned about soy) mixed in with some finely diced fruit? Or hard boiled egg whites, diced? (those are low calorie and high protein!) Finely diced chicken?

I think it's unrealistic to expect most toddlers to carry something with them and just graze from it unless that is how they are. Most of the toddlers I have known (including mine) will eat everything out of their snacky cup or baggie when they're given it unless they don't like it--they don't have self-regulation at all. I think most go through bottomless pit stages on a fairly regular basis, but it would be absolutely draining and exhausting to have to deal with that Every. Single. Day with no ending in sight.
post #15 of 343
Quote:
Originally Posted by tsfairy View Post
I don't like making food conditional upon doing other tasks first. To me that sets up a pattern that can lead to disordered eating. Of course I've not dealt directly with such issues before so I may be way off base here.
Yeah, I don't think I do either! Like I said, I was just winging it.
post #16 of 343
It sounds like my kids! You do not know this child's genetic makeup. My nephew weighed at one year what my daughter did at two. He got his mom's chunky monkey baby/toddler jeans. My sil's mom was worried about my skinny kids, then worried that they ate more than her chunky grandbabies. Some of this can be genetic chunk that disappears after toddlerhood.

Also, what do you expect a child's response to be when they see someone in their own home eating? At that age they like to share and being told no hurts their feeling. If you don't want her to snack don't eat snacks in front of her -- that is mean in any situation. I think if you polled you will find many people's toddlers expect sharing.

Her breakfast consisted of a lot of carbs, and very little fats or proteins. That meal would send me on a sugar crash. Kudos on the whole milk yogurt though. I cannot eat oat meal because it does not help keep my sugar level -- I don't care what research says my body acts differently to oats. I would add a solid protein, half boiled egg, left over chicken/fish, or bean source to see if they satisfies her more. I had one child that was only happy if she got a solid protein (mainly eggs) for breakfast.

Does she throw up?
Does she have bms daily? More than once a day?
Does she get juice? or Cows milk?
post #17 of 343
I'm sorry I have no experience in this area, but I do have a 16 mo who loves food, and fruit is his favorite....
I just have healthy snack ideas for you.

I started steaming carrot sticks and green beans, and I just leave them in my fridge for when he asks for fruit and he's already had some. (He eats them cold) Also, defrosted frozen peas are a good snack.

I've also been making these "cookies" in the food processor, I'm not sure about quantities, I just fudge it.....Put in some cashews or peanuts, chop em up, move to a bowl....Put in some dates, and maybe some raisins, chop that up, and put in another bowl. Gradually add the nuts to the fruits, mush it up with your hands, and make it into flattened balls. (Wrap in cellophane for an on the go snack, or put on wax paper.) Stick em in the fridge. They're really good.

Good luck.
post #18 of 343
My son was drinking over a gallon of milk a day when we got him at 22 months. To reduce his milk intake we just gave him as many extremely watered-down bottles of milk as he wanted (constant). You could try that when you go out. If you water it down enough, it is practically just water, but it is still cloudy like milk.
post #19 of 343
Another thought, could you do an "all you can eat bootcamp." Set aside a few days (maybe a long weekend, when you can muster help with the other kids) and let dd eat as much as she wants. Just prepare lots of acceptable food in advance, steamed veggies and fruit and everything else she can eat in unlimited amounts.
post #20 of 343
i agree about the protein/good fats thing. i often eat and eat but eat the wrong things so i am never satisfied/full. cereal and milk or oatmeal and milk would not set with me for 30 minutes before i was looking for something else to eat. same with fruit.

also the bottle thing might be for comfort but it makes total sense, at this point in time my ds is nursing sooo much, but he needs the good fat so i do not restrict at all. maybe try traditional foods forum?
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