Always hungry toddler. What to do? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 18 Old 12-12-2004, 11:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My ds always says he's hungry. Now, I'm all for giving children food when they're hungry. But, sometimes he doesn't eat it and we wind up throwing out the food. Something we really can't afford to do. It's gotten to the point where he's CONSTANTLY asking for food though, sometimes crying sometimes not. He's been eating far larger portions at meals and I've been trying to give him snacks throughout the day that are healthy. But, he asks for food so often I've had to start telling him to wait. Especially because like I said, he doesn't always eat the food. Just nibbles and then leaves it.

I really don't know what to do. It's been going on for a month so it's not just a regular growth spurt. He's not losing weight so it's not a paracite.

It got worse after he and I had a virus a few weeks ago. The virus only lasted a day and neither of us ate much that day. So, the next day we made up for lost time (full appetites). While my appetite has gone back to normal his hasn't.

I grew up with an unusually high metabolism. I ate like he is now. And like him my appetite started when I was a toddler (after a really bad illness that caused me to lose all my baby fat. Orion's always been lean) and finally slowed down when I turned 18. I know how it feels to be constantly hungry no matter how much you eat.

I'm trying to teach my son to take smaller bites of his food and to chew them thoroughly in hopes that would help. I'm mostly vegan (the baby wants meat sometimes so I eat meat) but dh and ds both eat meat. He doesn't drink milk or anything made from milk if I can help it (constipates him way too badly). He's been eating more like me lately (he eats meat only when dh is home now) and I've let that be his choice.

*sigh* I think that's everything. Um...he also takes acidiphilous every other day which has helped his IBS (we both have it). I really don't know what to do. I don't want my son to have food issues. Any advice?
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#2 of 18 Old 12-13-2004, 01:03 AM
 
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I think you should give him food if he asks (nicely ) for it. If you want to avoid wasting food that he just nibbles on try giving him things like pretzels, nuts, dry cereal, and dried fruit for between meal snacking. Just give him one piece at a time, or have a bowl filled with non-perishable snacks on the coffee table that he can go to when he wants a quick bite. If you just don't want him snacking so much maybe you could try letting him have a sippy cup of water available at all times, let him pick out a cup at the store and maybe that'll keep him fuller and his mind off the snacking.
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#3 of 18 Old 12-13-2004, 02:37 AM - Thread Starter
 
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He drinks a lot durring the day too. When we have juice in the house it's a constant thing. lol He can pour his own juice now and uses a regular plastic cup. But, we run out of juice really fast and after he's all water (he doesn't bf anymore )

He loves nuts and so I try to buy a bunch from the bulk bins when we go to the store. But, that only lasts a few days. Plus, he's always allowed to get carrots, apples, hot dogs, etc out of the fridge to eat (after asking for them). As a result we run out of them so fast. We're on a very tight budget right now so I try to make the food last.

A usual day can be like this.

7 am: Adult sized bowl of oatmeal
8 am: Either some fruit or another bowl of oatmeal (the second bowl will sometimes last him a few hours)
9-10 am: a few light snacks and asking for lunch constantly.
11 am-12 pm: Finally lunch. Either 2 or 3 sandwiches or 4 cooked eggs.
2-4 pm: several helpings of veggies, fruits, or nuts. On rare occasions maybe one piece of cancy
5 pm: Adult sized helping of whatever we're eating...sometimes seconds.
6-8 pm: more snacking on various foods. I try to restrict food after 7 since he usually goes to sleep at around 8.
2 am: He wakes up asking for food. I usually tell him to go back to sleep and that I'll give him something to eat when the sun is up.

Yes, it really is like that. Usually meals last him about two hours. Snacks can last him anywhere between 10 min to half an hour. He's very tall and is very thin. Last time I measured him (about 9 months ago) he was 3' 5" and around 47 lbs. I know he's grown since then. Most people mistake him for a 6 year old until they hear him speak (talks like your average 3 1/2 year old).

I've started trying to distract him, thinking that perhaps he's just bored and wants to snack. But, that'll only work for a few min and then he's in my face (literally...noses touching) and saying that he's "really really hungry" and wants to eat. Sometimes he won't fully eat the food which is starting to annoy dh and myself. Sometimes he'll eat it so fast I have to wonder if I just gave him the food or not.

I did research to see if it could be some sort of illness or something. But, everything that is listed under "excessive eating" or "increased appetite" or whatnot doesn't apply to him (ie. he doesn't match any other symptom). So, I'm thinking he's like I was and just has an unusually high metabolism (I used to feel like I was starving only 2 hours after a full meal and was very very skinny) OR it's in his head somehow.

If he is like I was then there's nothing we can do except maybe buy more things in bulk. But, what if it's all in his head? How do we tell? How do I teach him that there is a difference between wanting to eat and needing to eat? Could it be that I'm not giving him enough nutrition and this is how his body is reacting? Well, that last one is a concern of mine but I've been very careful to make sure he gets enough nutrients and calories.

It really has me freaked out! I would rather not go to the doctor, but part of me wonders if I should.
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#4 of 18 Old 12-13-2004, 11:39 AM
 
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That sounds so frustrating. If your dc doesn't show any other symptoms of eating disorders, isn't overweight, and doesn't act neurotic in other ways, he probably is just hungry. I really doubt its "in his head". Though not feeding him when he's hungry could lead to a problem, I think.

I think I would try giving him more protien to see if that changed things. Eggs at breakfast, more nuts, soy milk, soy yogurt, maybe even encourage more meat if you can. But if that doesn't change anything, it probably is that he is like you and he's lucky to have a mom who knows what that feels like.

Laura, Mama to Mya 7/02, Ian 6/07 and Anna 8/09
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#5 of 18 Old 12-13-2004, 11:39 AM
 
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I have no clue here, no help at all, sorry. But I can see how that could be very frustrating and worrisome for you. I used to be like that as a child, constantly hungry and very skinny. My parents thought it was bad to have more snacks than like a small after-school thing, so I would totally binge when they weren't looking or not home. Not very healthy. Just wanted to offer hope you figure something out that works for your son and your budget

Single student mama to dd 5/04 and ds 11/07.

 

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#6 of 18 Old 12-13-2004, 03:27 PM
 
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wow i'm going through smoething similar with dd but probably not as advanced as what you describe. it also started right after she recoverd from a virus. we have to pretty much keep offering food and bf all day and she still will get up at night asking for food (by name) but will usually settle for bf and go back to sleep. a couple times i brought her down tot he kitchen but she didnt' want to eat but was hapy to see the food. maybe she is afraid there isn't any food? that is all i can figure - because the 3-4 days she was sick she ate very little - only nursed.

sometimes she asks for stuff we dont have and i can explain that we have to go get i tor we have to make it. i can also involve her in making food - she loves mixing things, for example. maybe something like this would work to slow down the pace, esp if food is getting wasted.

also, it's not cheap but have you tried adding oil - olive oil or if possible flax oil -- these are healthy oils that should not lead to weight problems, and may help keep your dc full longer. butter may also be ok. also are you using whole grains. that's another possible way to make sure the food is more filling.

good luck. i know how hard it is to have a baby asking for food in the middle of the night. i felt so guilty the first few nights it was happening! i really truly hope it doesnt happen tonight - i kept offering so much food all day that dd didn't eat much for dinner <sigh>. though i must say reading your post makes me feel a lot better.
sweet dreams

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#7 of 18 Old 12-13-2004, 04:21 PM
 
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My son was always complaining of being hungry all the time when we were eating mostly vegetarian. I started fixing meat and vegetables(one raw for digestive enzymes) for breakfast and lunch. Then a Carb (grain, rice, pasta, etc.) and veggies for dinner. That seems to have fixed it for him. He doesn't even want an afternoon snack anymore, and claims to have better clarity of mind during the day.

Protien gives energy, and Carbs burn off quickly and make you hungry again quicker. The protein doesn't have to be meat though, could be beans or the like. Sounds like he is needing protein by the way you describe his consumption of nuts. Maybe try upping his consumption of proteins for awhile and see if that helps.

Or maybe he isn't digesting the food properly (? a side effect of the virus ?) and so isn't getting the proper nutrition from what he is eating. In which case you may want to give digestive enzymes and raw veggies (for the enzymes), or even raw fresh veggie juice. If you have a juicer, try giving him veggie juice for snack, not fruit juice as it's high in sugar, but veggie-carrot, celery, cabbage, beet, and tomato are really good ones to start with. It would at the very least have a cleansing effect on his system, which would probably be a help to his body after the virus.

If he is very young, he probably isn't wanting to eat out of boredom, the young are still very attuned to their body's needs, more so than we adults usually. And since you had the same circumstances when you were young, it probably isn't in his head, it's probably metabolic.

Hope it works out real soon. Be sure to keep us updated.
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#8 of 18 Old 12-13-2004, 04:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks guys. I've been thinking about it a lot lately. I don't want to deny him food, mostly because I don't believe in it. Lately though I've been asking him to wait inbetween eating in hopes that his stomach will tell his brain that he's full or something. Also, I'm trying to hold off feeding him just before a meal.

I think I found a way to be able to feed him as much as he's asking in a way that's both healthy and economical. I'm not sure if it'll work but it's worth a try.

Basically, instead of buying things like nut butters, jams, breads, sauces, etc...I plan to make them myself. It's healthier because they won't have any preservatives (I've been wanting to keep those out) and I can control what's in them. And it's cheeper in the long run.

My grandmother gave me $100 for X-mas and I was planning on using most of that on the baby. But, I can use a good portion on a good food processor and the rest on the baby (I plan to make her clothes and diapers so I just need material and I know where the sales are. lol)

With the rate my son has been eating we need to do a full food shopping every week. So, finding ways to make it cheeper would be good. For instance, baking bread. Overall it's cheeper and more convienent (don't have to run out to the store whenever we need more. Just bake some).

I try to give him as much protein as possible. Even though I'm mostly vegan (trying to become 100% vegan) I'm not forcing it on him. Though, he has been wanting to eat less meat since he sees that I don't eat it as much.
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#9 of 18 Old 12-13-2004, 09:37 PM
 
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I can see your frustration. Dd was a non stop eater for quite a while, and even still she'll go on binges where all she wants to do is eat. It can be maddening, especially after you've just cleaned up the dishes from the last meal
And even more frustrating when you can't really afford all that food!
Agh..ds just woke up, I'll get back to you!

Mama to 3:
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#10 of 18 Old 12-14-2004, 02:03 AM
 
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Okay, I just posted a very similar thread and then read down and saw yours!

I have the exact same issue with my 2 1/2 year old.

I'm hoping others will post some recipes for some "filling" snacks and meals....

The only advice I can give (since I'm needing it myself!) is that I second the flax oil.... I'm giving that to ds on some sprouted grain bread.

After we get back from our Christmas trip, I'm going to really work on this. Its like I can't even get dinner made because he is begging for food the entire time. And that's after eating an apple, cheese, crackers.... just the entire time I'm cooking. Then he'll still eat the whole meal that we have.
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#11 of 18 Old 12-14-2004, 02:05 AM
 
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I can definitely sympathize with you. My DS eats unbelievable amounts of food, too, though at least he doesn't wake up at night asking for more! I think he eats so much partly due to his size (at 3 y. 4 mo. he is about 43" and 40 lbs.) and partly due to our healthy, vegetarian diet. I haven't given DS meat, but I've noticed that when we eat at friends' houses and he gets big portions of full-fat cheese and full-fat yogurt loaded with sugar, he does eat noticeably less afterwards. I'm not suggesting you give your DS unhealthy foods to fill him up. Like you, I've tried to go for the healthy fats instead: nuts, nut butters, and olive oil. I've heard that protein and especially dairy make one feel full for a longer time, but this doesn't seem to make much difference for DS (except when the protein is fatty, as mentioned above.)

I know what you mean about hardly being able to afford to feed your own child. My grocery bill is probably triple what it used to be when it was just me eating, and I keep thinking, What am I going to do when he is a teenager?!? I feel like half my life is devoted to food now: shopping for it, preparing it, sitting at the table for an hour while DS asks for more and more, cleaning up afterwards... My friends with picky eaters all tell me how lucky I am to have such a "good" eater, but sometimes I just want to cry!

But back to the topic of expense: I, too, have begun to buy in bulk more and prepare more foods from scratch. Lately, I have been experimenting with bean soups (split pea, lentil, black bean). DS was going through a can or a can and a half of soup at one meal (in addition to snadwiches and fruit), and that was just too expensive! I do bake my own bread (in the bread machine), and I prepare wholewheat pasta a lot because it is relatively cheap. I need to prepare more hot cereals, too, rather than reaching for a box of breakfast cereal. I like your idea of making nut butters in the food processor--DS would like to help me with that. Of course, the nuts themselves are still expensive--there's no way around that.

One more thought: Do you think your ds is getting enough sleep? I know when I am low on sleep (as moms often are ; ), I crave carbohydrates. Sometimes I'll eat half a box of crackers--not because I'm hungry, but because I am tired. I was always skinny like you, but since becoming a mom, I've put on 7 or 8 lbs. (Of course, being in the kitchen half the time could have something to do with this, too!)
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#12 of 18 Old 12-14-2004, 02:13 AM
 
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My nephew is a little older than your son and he's been eating like crazy. I was on the phone with my sister the other day and she said he had two adult servings of oatmeal, 2 slices of peanut butter toast, a banana and some of her coconut/veggie soup one morning. She said they sat down and had a talk about it and he said that his stomach felt funny and that's why he needed to eat. She realized that he was FULL, not hungry, but misinterpreting the feeling. He also had a tummy bug recently and his body was out of whack. Have you talked to your son about what it feels like to be hungry or thirsty?
I think you've gotten some great ideas. Maybe a little more attention to food combinations/protein and maybe focus on making sure he's getting some good digestive enzymes to rebalance his system since being ill.
Also, I just put water in the juice I have. I usually only use juice to add supplements to like floradix or flax or magnesium or GSE, but if they see me add water, they freak. So I just add it to the jug and keep it in the fridge that way.
*edited to add that if he's waking up hungry, maybe you can keep some mixed nuts by his bed. If his metabolism is really working quickly, then he probably IS hungry at night and could use a small snack. I sometimes let my son have a piece of cheese in the middle of the night if he wakes up hungry. He's 1 month older than your son.
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#13 of 18 Old 12-14-2004, 02:58 AM
 
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I think you definitely need to add some good fats and more protein.

Try quinoa instead of oatmeal in the morning. (high in protein)

Im a big fan of smoothies, they fill you up for a long time. Kefir or yogurt and bananas, frozen fruit and whatever else you want to throw in there. Don't have to add kefir or yogurt if you dont want to go dairy...

Make a tahini, oil based or nut-butter dip for his veggies.

Beans are high in protein and cheap too.

Rice, millet, quinoa, etc is cheap and filling. Add a side of grains to lunch and dinner.

Avacados are high in good fats and somewhat filling.

Cook everything in lots and lots of olive or flax oil.

Maybe try letting him eat up until bedtime. 11 hours is an awful long time for a child (or even me, lol) to go without eating.

A few years back, I lived with a toddler that hung off of the fridge door all day long crying "me hungy bad" for a year or so, so I feel your pain.
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#14 of 18 Old 12-14-2004, 05:17 AM
 
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andrea - good suggestions. but you did not mean to cook the flax oil right - flax oil shoudl be eaten raw. it loses its nutrients in heating.

i want to know how to make tahini and all those other nut butters. do you need a special machine or special blade for that? my dd is only 18 moths old and i am not sure when i can give her nuts, but havent done so yet.

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#15 of 18 Old 12-14-2004, 05:20 AM
 
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also i want to know, if my daughter is still breastfeeding, does it make any sense to give her dairy products? i quit dairy after dd started eating foods because i didnt want to give her dairy at least till she weaned herself. dh suggests that yougurt may be a good thing for her to eat.

but i am thinking that as long as milk is a significant part of her diet it shoudl be bmilk and maybe later when she has a lot less bmilk or pref when she weans altogether, then if she wants she can try other dairy items. i am hoping that we can just continue the vegan thing indefinitely, but i am open to other ideas. right now i fel that any hunger she has that is unmet by the bmilk shoudl be satisfied by other kinds of foods and not by dairy products. does this make sense?

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#16 of 18 Old 12-14-2004, 11:07 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rumi
also i want to know, if my daughter is still breastfeeding, does it make any sense to give her dairy products? i quit dairy after dd started eating foods because i didnt want to give her dairy at least till she weaned herself. dh suggests that yougurt may be a good thing for her to eat.

but i am thinking that as long as milk is a significant part of her diet it shoudl be bmilk and maybe later when she has a lot less bmilk or pref when she weans altogether, then if she wants she can try other dairy items. i am hoping that we can just continue the vegan thing indefinitely, but i am open to other ideas. right now i fel that any hunger she has that is unmet by the bmilk shoudl be satisfied by other kinds of foods and not by dairy products. does this make sense?
I don't consider cow's milk to be a replacement to human milk. It's just another food item to choose from for me. I do eat a lot of dairy as we don't digest soy well and also don't eat eggs. Since we are vegetarian, it's one of our major protein sources. Plus, I love cheese
If you choose to include dairy in your child's diet, yogurt is always a good start since it has cultures that make it easier to digest and absorb the nutrients. I also like to make little balls of rice and soft steamed veggies mixed together with cream cheese. The cream cheese helps them stick together and that makes a nice finger food.
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#17 of 18 Old 12-15-2004, 03:02 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow! So many great posts! Thank you.

Actually, the fat content in our diet has decreased recently. I recently moved to a more raw diet (the baby has made me do it) and Orion usually eats what I do. So, he's not getting as much fat as he used to...except for nuts. He still eats meat and he is a big lover of eggs, though the meat is usually when dh cooks as the smell makes me very very sick.

I try to give him healthy fats such as that in penut butter, almonds, cashews, etc. He also will sometimes eat organic cheese and eggs. I know he gets more than enough proteins, carbs, and calories.

I try not to cook too much in oil as fried food isn't always best. The only fried foods he likes, anyway, is either meat or potatoes and those are always cooked in olive oil.

Yes, he is getting enough sleep. On average he sleeps from 8 pm till 6 am and rarely naps. When he does nap he goes to bed later but still wakes up between 6 and 7 am.

I've asked him before, when he says he's hungry, if it hurts or is uncomfortable. He tells me it's not. I've tried to explain to him that true hunger hurts or feels really really uncomfortable. I don't know how else to explain it to him in a way he can understand.

I swear the virus had something to do with it. Seems to be a trend to (according to the replies I've recieved about this). My only hope is that his body will right itself. In the meantime I'll just try to give him plenty of healthy snacks and start to make things from scratch more (such as bread, jams, etc).

One of my concerns that I just thought about is that perhaps there is a yeast problem. Yeast can affect many parts of the body, including the digestive tract. He craves a lot of starch which is like a fuel for yeast. I'll try to cut those out of his diet for a while and continue giving him the probiotics (which will help get rid of the yeast). It could be that the illness he had plus the starch in his diet (we eat a lot of pasta, rice, and potato) could've caused an imablance.

*sigh*
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#18 of 18 Old 12-15-2004, 03:22 AM
 
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interesting topic...Ive got a very hungry toddler too.
Quote:
Originally Posted by andrea
A few years back, I lived with a toddler that hung off of the fridge door all day long crying "me hungy bad" for a year or so, so I feel your pain.
: I can just see my dd saying this and it cracked me up!!

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