Vegan kid waking up hungry at night - Mothering Forums
Vegetarian and Vegan > Vegan kid waking up hungry at night
Attila the Honey's Avatar Attila the Honey 11:01 AM 01-24-2013

My dh, 9 yo dd, and I went vegan a week ago.  For the most part it's going great, we are all really happy with the change and committed to it.  Our 9 yo dd pretty much motivated us to make this change, it was her idea.


She is an excellent eater, she loves beans, tofu, vegetables, fruit, nuts, non dairy milks...  really the only foods she was ever picky about were certain meats, cheeses, pickles and saurkraut.  So, overall I have no problem feeding her.


I have a lot of foods available to her and she's allowed to eat whenever she's hungry, no restrictions.  I've noticed she's eating more often throughout the day, and that's fine.  She is still eating plenty at meal times.


Despite all of this, and despite a snack right before bed, she is waking up hungry in the middle of the night.  We give her bedtime snacks with protein and fat but it hasn't seemed to help much.


Is this just an adjustment thing that will go away?  Before going vegan we ate a standard american diet with plenty of meat, cheese and fat.  We ate a lot of fast food, actually.


Anyone have any experience with this?

yam's Avatar yam 06:33 PM 01-24-2013

Congratulations on going vegan! I dare say your body, the environment, and the animals would thank you if they could. :)


My whole family has been vegan for almost seven years. We have two young vegan kids, both healthy. My son, whose favorite food is tofu, is above average in height and weight, while also thinner and more energetic than most of his counterparts (strong muscles and bones, I presume). He bikes nearly every day. My daughter, younger, is a bit rounder, average height and weight, also full of energy. She loves to dance. I've actually been concerned about my son's slenderness, but our pediatrician assures us he's healthy. We've not experienced the waking-up-hungry phenomenon, though I've noticed both kids will sometimes eat triple or quadruple portions of supper. I've been keeping our diet low-sugar (fruit-juice-sweetened yogurts, no candy or pie except on holidays, no cupcakes except on birthdays), low-fat (2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil per prepared meal, max) and whole-foods-based, with a good portion of it raw (kale chips, fruits, sprouts). Even though we eat supplemented foods, we take vitamin B-12 (5,000 mcg, a.k.a. 5mg) and a new vegan vitamin D-3 (from lichen) whenever I remember, to make sure we get enough, but we take no other supplements.


It's great that your daughter loves all these vegan staples! Sounds like she was sort of a natural vegan for a while.


Are you making portions big enough?


* Because there's so much more fiber in a vegan diet versus the standard American diet, some calories consumed don't make it into your cells to give you energy. Only 80% of the calories in almonds, for instance, actually get burned by your body. Your beneficial gut flora dine on the extra fiber. For that reason, the vegan diet in and of itself, whether or not you eat actual probiotic food like yogurt, might be considered somewhat probiotic.


* If she's snacking all day (which my family does, too), then it's possible her stomach may have shrunken. It will stretch back out again if she sits down to a huge bowlful of vegan chili over rice. Let her get just a little uncomfortably full, then she'll be able to eat more.


* Vegans in general don't get enough beans, greens, and nuts. Nuts are a great anytime snack, as they have protein for long-lasting energy and good-for-the-brain omega-3 fats (especially walnuts), and nuts don't make you gain weight. Seriously. (That links to a review of peer-reviewed scientific research.) Avocados are great, too.


You mentioned that her food choices are unrestricted, but I didn't see starches listed explicitly. Contrary to the anti-carb hype, starches are actually very healthy and have been population staples for thousands of years--I'm talking whole tubers and whole grains, not french fries and refined breads--so you might want to make sure your daughter's chili bowl has a hearty cup of cooked brown rice at the bottom. My kids love the sticky short-grain brown rice variety, as it's so chewy and sweet; you can make terrific vegan sushi with it. Sweet potatoes are well-known as a super-food.


To be safe, you might like to have your vitamin B-12, vitamin D, and iron levels checked before you get much farther. Then check it again in a year to make sure you've got healthy levels. Vegans must supplement vitamin B-12, and just about everyone, omnivores and vegans alike, is vitamin D deficient these days. While you're at it, you might like to check your cholesterol and blood pressure (and maybe your daughter's) just to gift yourself that smile when you see how much it drops without your having to do anything special.


For the record, I have no affiliation whatsoever with the food and beverage industry, nor with any of the web sites I've linked to (nor have I ever in the past).


Anyway, I hope this helps! Good luck to you and your bambina!!

jgallagher66's Avatar jgallagher66 06:54 PM 01-24-2013
I think the pp covered a lot of points. Just to add a little personal experience though. When we went plant based I really had to increase portion sizes. At first I lost a lot of weight. I was hungry but I just couldn't believe how much less calories the same portion size of veggies had compared to what I was eating and I didn't eat enough. I lost too much weight at first and didn't feel that well. I really eat a lot of food and I'm still very thin but I feel great and am very healthy. My kids have had to adjust to larger portions and eating some calorie dense foods like avocados and nuts. We also added more bread and some vegan dessert things to our repertoire. I guess I don't have a lot to add and some of it might be an adjustment to the higher fiber content but definately keep encouraging frequent snacking and large portion sizes as well as some calorie dense foods.
Attila the Honey's Avatar Attila the Honey 07:18 AM 01-25-2013

Thank you for all the tips!  That was really helpful!


I do not restrict portions at all.  For meals we put whatever we've made on the table and she's able to help herself to as much as she wants.  We do eat starches, also.  Re. nuts, maybe not enough.  I am shopping today, I will buy some more. 


I love the idea of getting before and after lab work and such. 


Can I post maybe a couple days' menus and have you offer any advice?


B: whole grain toast with pb and banana, cantaloupe

L: hummus wrap with veggies, apple

D: baked tofu, mushroom gravy, brown rice and steamed broccoli

Snacks: cashews, apples, pomegranate, kiwi, tortilla chips and guacamole


B: tofu scrambler with a lot of veggies

L: spiced kale, kidney beans, tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic and sweet potatoes topped with cornbread

D: lentil rice burgers on a bun with avocado, tomato, lettuce, condiments and potato wedges tossed with nutrional yeast, salt and pepper and baked

S: peanut butter on celery, more fruit, popcorn, hummus on crackers


B: green smoothie with kale, banana, strawberries, oj and pineapple and toast with pb

L: the veggies and beans with cornbread again

D: bean burritos with sauteed onions, garlic and peppers, refried beans, avocado, tomatoes, lettuce

S: fruit, hummus on crackers, cashews


I should mention she also drinks coconut milk and almond milk throughout the day, she loves them!  And, I forgot, she and I made some peanut butter, oat, flax seed and sunflower seed granola bars that she snacks on.


So, I think we are doing OK with starches, fats, and protein.  I do want to buy a vegan protein powder to amp up our smoothies. 



jgallagher66's Avatar jgallagher66 09:27 AM 01-25-2013
Yummy. Those menus look great. I want to come live with you. I really think you're doing great. Even if you're offering unlimited portions, she just might have to grt used to larger portion sizes. I couldn't believe how much larger my portion sizes had to be to maintain my weight when I went plant based. I would just keep encouraging her to eat healthy and often and I think she'll adjust on her own. There is a really helpful facebbok group that I belong too. It's called herbie parents and they are always posting kid friendly recipes and you can get lots of ideas and advice from others walking similar food journies. It might be something you would enjoy and find helpful.
Tags: Vegan