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But she's not fat!

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
My six year old step daughter seems to think she is fat. She is constantly worried about how much fat or calories are in the food she eats/drinks. We went out for bagels yesterday and she started examining the nutrition label on her choc milk and asked me and DH how much fat was in it. This sort of thing is happening all the time with increasing frequency. She is really getting obbsessed with calories and fat. She is an active kid and she is not even close to having a problem with her weight.

I don't think it is coming from our house becasue we rarely watch TV, are very active (bike riding, going for walks, ice skating etc) and we eat very healthy. I also know that at her mom's house she watches TV all the time, eats a lot of foods like pizza and McDonalds, and her mom is always worried about her weight. My point is, I think her mom's behavoir and examples (her weight worries) is rubbing off on my stepkid. I don't want her to develop an unhealthy relationship with her body esp at such a young age. While I get along really well with DH's ex, I don't know how I can talk to her about this without sounding like she is being a bad mother, thats just how she would take it. My husband doesn't seem to think this is a big deal.

Am I overreacting? Is there a way to approach this subject with the bio-mom?
post #2 of 21
I don't think you're overreacting, but I don't have any advice. Sorry.
post #3 of 21
I don't think you're overreacting...but I think you won't have much success trying to get her mom to change, I'd just try to give her a different view. Perhaps you can tell her more about nutritional content, give her the positive view of food: vitamins, fiber, calcium. And also, if she's worried about her body image, I'd try to give her some realistic views NOW of what is normal and healthy...and that SHE fits in this category. So perhaps have the whole family do a health check, and congratulate yourselves on being at your ideal weights (or whatever will work). The key thing that I'd try to do is make healthy normal and not a lot of stress, and be upfront about your own views on dieting etc in a healthy way.
post #4 of 21
I think you have a right to be concerned. I would be. The previous poster had a good point, about focusing on calcium, fiber, and other vitamins and minerals in healthy foods. Put an emphasis on strengthening bone and muscle with excercise, not loosing weight. But thats all you can do. If you do get along with her mom well, I think you need to alert her to her daughters behavior. I wouldn't confront the mom about moms behavior, just ask mom if your step-daughter has been exposed to anyone who is very focused on dieting. That way the blame won't be put on the mom and she wont get as defensive. It should make her take a look at her own behaviors, and give her something to think about. Hopefully she will realize what her behaviors are doing to her healthy daughter, and change her behaviors on her own.
post #5 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the support ya'll. I appreciate the advice. I will try those things with her. I just really worry about her as she's getting older and around kids in school and stuff. Peer pressure is crazy. I was shopping with her the other day and when she was in the dressing room trying on clothes, she kept sucking her stomach in! not just a little, but really exagerrated and sickly looking. I just don't want her to turn out bulimic or something in a few years. It seems like kids are doing things like that younger and younger.
post #6 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thats a really good way to approach the situation with the bio-mom GooeyRN. I'll give it a shot the next time I see her. Its good to hear from you all that I'm not overreacting since my husband is not too concerned (though he does think it is the boi-mom as well).
post #7 of 21
Dss is 11 and after ;years of nagging has become interested in nutrition after 1 week of his 6th grade science/nutrition curriculum. His mom and I talked about it together. You really don't know if it is coming from her mom's house. In California the science curriculum in (almost?) all grades covers this information and seems to make an impression on the kids (dss's teacher has vials of fat showing how much is in chicken nuggets, frozen pizza, etc which made much more of an impression than I could have). A lot of kid's tv shows talk about nutrition now too. So, since she could be picking it up from anywhere, you could just talk to the mom about it as if you don't know where she's getting it. Say you've noticed this new obsession, how can we deal with it, what should we emphasis, etc.
post #8 of 21
We had a VERY similar situation with my DSDs and their biomom. DSD2 was 2 1/2 at the time and was obsessed with being "fatter than sissy." We approached biomom and told her what was going on. She was genuinely shocked, because although she knew where DSD was getting it, she didn't realize that DSD was listening to her, or understood what she was saying. As soon as we brought it to her attention, everything was fine and DSDs attitude really started to change and get much healthier. She's much better adjusted now.
post #9 of 21
I am not a SP but when my teenageD stopped eating last year I talked to her DD and DSM about what her eating habits over there were. Met with a wall but hey I tried. Talk to her mom. Tell her what she says. Watch your wording though. She may have gotten it from TV, school, her friends house....etc. Another thing is take her to a nutritionist. They can show her what she should or shouldn't be concerned about.
post #10 of 21
I have a similar problem, except my 9yo SD refuses to eat meat at out house because her mother has filled her head with fears of BSE, Ecoli, and Salmonella to start with, followed by a few months of organic, free-range, pasture, grain fed, etc (which, unbeknownst to mom, we buy anyways, sheesh) and then the insinuation that all we eat/buy at our house is crap. *sigh* I HATE fighting over EVERY meal with this kid and I can NOT cook seperate meals for her and WILL NOT cook separate meals even if I could. Shall we just persevere and continue to basically force her to eat it? Or is it doing more harm to our relationship (her with her dad and me both) to push the issue? Any advice?
post #11 of 21
Interesting tidbit to add to this discussion: Today I was grocery shopping with my 5yo, who isn't ever around anyone at home who's on a diet (I've never been in my life, and my family doesn't either). She just started kindergarten. We were comparison shopping the difference in ingredients between two brands, and one had "a little more fat in it." She started saying (completely out of the blue!!) I don't want to get that one, I don't want to get fat (mind you, she's perfectly healthy...). So I said, well, there are a lot of things that cause people to gain weight, not just fat, sugars as well, and the other one as more sugar in it. In the car, we talked about it a little more, and she asked me if I wanted to be fat. I said how does she know if someone is fat? She made huge arms around her belly. I said, "Would you love me if I was fat?" She said of course I would! I said then I don't really care whether I'm fat or not, the most important thing is that we love each other, not how we look. She said, "Mama, I don't care either, as long as you love me."

Just thought I should share...perhaps there are other influences than just your sd's mom, because honestly the only place I think my dd could have gotton this from was school (grrrr...public school...grrr). But talking to her about it seemed to really help!
post #12 of 21
Have her start a food diary of everything she eats or is offered as a meal at your house then take her to a nutritionalist or the Dr's. They will be able to tell her what you are offering is healthy. That way it isn't YOU she is hearing it from but a profesional.
My DD1 fell and "HURT" her arm. I found nothing wrong with her. She convinced the school nurse she was really hurt. So I was forced to take her to the Dr's. She went in crying cause it "HURT". Th Dr looked it over and told her it was fine. DD1 walked out and never mentioned it hurting again. And all because a "DOCTOR" said she was fine.
My DB has a similar problem with his DD's Mom. It sucks. Good luck.
post #13 of 21
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Jster
(grrrr...public school...grrr).
Hee hee hee, I love that! Just an update, She's doing better after some conversations we've had. I am also finnally getting the oppurtunity to talk to her mother this weekend. DSD told me her mom has her run on a treadmill with her! I want to talk to her biomom before I jump to too many conclusions about that one... (nothing accusitory , I promise, just asking if she has heard her talk about fat or calories or weight issues and asking biomom where she thinks it comes from,... school maybe?) DH told me that bimoms mother has been horrible to biomom since she was little about her weight (biomom is not overweight and never was), so I think it is just passing down the line. Sad, isn't it?
post #14 of 21
Probably from school. My DD1 had a nutrition class when she was in Elementary school. And being the Dramatic Diva that she is came home telling me how to do everything....LOL Like how to thaw meat and what was healthy and not healthy. Not to mention when the lady came it weekly to talk about drinking.... If she saw me drinking any alcoholic beverage she would get mad! What ever the lady said she made DD1 think that if a person drank at all they had a problem..... Man was that FUN!
post #15 of 21
My DSD is 15. I first noticed her sucking it in when she was 5. I was more concerned with getting along than standing up for her. I did manage to stop my DHs family from mentioning her weight to her. My Dh has since then made sure to always compliment her on her looks. However her mother is VERY critical and has always criticized what my DSD is eating even if it's the same as everyone else. She might not tell her out right she is fat but she has talked since DSD was 8y/o about "next we'll have to shop in the plus section!" BTW my sweetie is about a 12/13 and still shops where ever her friends are!!!!

Getting side tracked here... I have gently mentioned to Bio Mom that DSD is perfect as she is but never rocked the boat too much on it. I'm not sure that has been the right thing for my kid. She wasn't overweight when any of this began, she was a perfect little five y/o girl...
post #16 of 21
Sorry haven't read all responses . . .but . .

Does she really think she is fat? or is she just sorting out the whole fat and calorie thing? there is a lot of junk out there. it is important for even children to know what is gross and bad and what is real and good.

If she is intrested in fat and calories then I would run with it. Even if fitness is her goal. Its never too early to teach them to be active and moving and that our health is directly related to the fods we eat, the amounts we eat and the energy we expend. None of that is natrual any more. My dd was obsessed with calories at that age. not because she is scared of getting fat but because how our bodies use food is just intresting to her. (and if yiou think about the way it all works toether to make us healthy or sick is really really intresting) I am also very cautious of those things and distinguishing between empty calories and stuff that will give us good fuel for our body. i am sure she picked it up from me in some part but i think we can learn and talk about it in healthy ways. They love a hapy meal. they know what happens if you eat too many. you get sick and fat. they know I am trying to lose weight and it is because I didn't learn self control when I was little.

teach her to read lables, tell her what kinds of fat are good and bad and why. tell her how food is made and why certain bad for you ingredients are in there. teach her about balanace. teach her that calories equal energy and you can have as many calories as you want so long as they are going to get used. once you demistify it she may not be as intrested in it. DDs intrest waned once she had it all down and knew why certain foods were nutritious and why others weren't worth the box and shiney packages they were marketed in. She learned about why processed stuff is not nearly as good for as real stuff. there is so much absolute crap on the shelves these days that we have to help our children know the difference. the crap looks good tastes good and is fun to eat. our only option is to teach them about sugar and additives and fat and calories and all the other stuff. . . .

as for approaching it with the biomom - at the very most I would have your dh mention (unless you and the biop mom are on very good terms) to his ex that he has noticed this and ask if she has any insights and discuss how they would like to approach it.
post #17 of 21
Thread Starter 
Well, I talked to biomom over the weekend. (we are on very good terms lilyka ). She pretty much blew it off. She said dsk is just being a kid. I guess I knew she would be like that. I do hope that she thought about it more after I left. I have had some good talks with dsd about food and nutrition and reading food labels and excersize. We had dsd over the weekend and we spent a lot of time preparing meals together. We'll just have to see how it all pans out, but I think DH and I have got her steared in the right direction as far as a healthy attitude about what she eats. Thanks to all who responded with your great advice, I really appreciate you all!
post #18 of 21
hey, that is awesme thatyou and bio mom are on such good terms. that has got to make things easier and better for everyone.
post #19 of 21
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by lilyka View Post
hey, that is awesme thatyou and bio mom are on such good terms. that has got to make things easier and better for everyone.

Oh, it really does. It wasn't always that way though. She thought DH left her for me, but we didn't even meet until after they had seperated! But try to tell that to a women going through a divorce. She hated me with such a vengance. After the wedding, I told her I wanted to get together with her so she could get to know me since I would be hanging out with her DD a lot. She was very nice and met with me and it was like she put everything behind her (even if it was just on the surface for the sake of DD). Now she realizes how much better off we all are in our current situation so things are great. From what I see on these chat boards, I wish more bio moms could be like her! It really is just all about putting the kids first.
post #20 of 21

Yeah, it sounds like it's just going down the maternal line. EDs and disordered approaches to eating are so common nowadays anyway, it sounds like at the very least it's nothing too extreme...

I think she's very lucky to have you as a balancing influence with this. Did you read that article in this issue of Mothering on eating when you're pregnant? The writer (a nutrition teacher) starts out saying something like "I want my students to eat without fear." It's good to be nutritionally aware, but there's no need to relate to food & the body fearfully. It's great that you're teaching your DSD more about other aspects of nutrition and body image. Food and health should be celebrated and enjoyed, life is too short for anything else!
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