puberty and weight gain - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 20 Old 10-20-2009, 02:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My dd just turned 10, and has been showing signs of puberty for a couple of months now. She has always been an average sized child, not particularly skinny or chubby. In the last 6 months or so, she has gotten pudgier, though her diet hasn't changed drastically... she has been eating more sugar in the last year than she did previously in her life, because in the neighborhood we now live in, it's a big social event to "go to the dairy" and get a treat. She has a major sweet tooth and also really favors carbs, but I think she eats pretty well compared to lots of kids -- salmon sushi is her favorite food, for example, and if she doesn't like what we're having for dinner she'll have kidney beans and carrot sticks, or cream cheese and avocado on whole grain toast. She doesn't overeat at all, and isn't a gorger when it comes to sugar (or anything else) but she does like sweets and probably eats too much refined sugar in the form of almost daily treats. I think she has a fairly healthy relationship with food, though with her increase in sugar intake, I am becoming more restrictive about sugar, which may or may not be adding to the problem, but I don't think I'm restrictive to a crazy degree or anything... if she's had ice cream during the day, I'm not inclined to let her eat nutella out of the jar as an after dinner snack, as one example.

ANYWAY, I feel like kids often get a little softer right as they're hitting puberty, and I'm having a hard time navigating exactly how to walk the line between helping her stay healthy and just accepting that maybe (?) weight gain is just part of puberty??? She is fairly active, but not hugely so... she's more of a reader than a runner, but she does go to dance, gymnastics, play on the trampoline, scooter around, etc...

I don't want to cause her any body image shame, but I also don't want to ignore warning signs that her health isn't where it should be. This is such a confusing time... she's often tired (growing? not enough sleep? too much sugar?) and complains of an upset tummy every few days or so. We have talked about food intolerances, and she recognizes that pizza gives her a sick stomach, so she doesn't eat it anymore. too bad she can't feel the effects that sugar have on her! today she tried on her new bra and said "I'm getting fat, I need to go on a diet"... which are painful words to hear come out of your child's mouth (and yes, I just redirected the conversation to healthy choices rather than dieting) but how active should I be in helping her "lose weight" when I'm wondering if that weight is there for a reason, and will go away on it's own when those boobies really come into their own?

someone talk me through this...

We're Tiffani , Mark , Lucy (9/99) , Dexter (8/01) ,and Zachary Marvin (3/07) and Naomi Rose (6/09), home 11/10, by way of Ugandan adoption.

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#2 of 20 Old 10-20-2009, 03:19 AM
 
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Weight gain is perfectly normal for girls during puberty. Unless it's an obviously large amout then I wouldn't worry. Though if she hasn't started all ready it might be a good idea to discuss menstruation since one of the main indicators is reaching the right percentage of fat. Girls also go through two seperate growth spurts during puberty, the biggest of which is shortly after onset and can be preceeded by weight gain.

Dance and gymnastics are both pretty intensive excersizes. Unless she's only doing them once a month then she's probably active enough.

According to http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/f...-puberty-girls the upper back is one place girls put on weight during puberty, so it would make sense that the bra strap size will change because of it.

Now the weight won't "go away" specifically... She will grown into it. If you are really worried you can find a medical professional you trust to help monitor the weight gain so both you and her can have an outside voice saying that it's still with in the norm.

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#3 of 20 Old 10-20-2009, 08:23 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, MD, that's really helpful. I should clarify that the bra she put on today was her very first bra, and is really more of a tank top than a bra, but she happened to mention "being fat" when she was trying it on at home. She does know all about menstruation, and I suspect will be starting soon, as she has all the other signs coming on...

I know her weight gain isn't out of the range of what's considered healthy, but I think I have some mama guilt because her diet has gone a little downhill in the last year (we moved to new zealand and a lot of our healthier staples don't exist here) so I'm just making sure my theory about puberty and weight gain isn't a myth. I've heard people say that girls hit puberty when they hit a certain weight, and therefore chubbier girls start puberty earlier, but I think that in many cases the weight is a result of puberty, not a cause of it...

I'm just making sure I'm understanding things and not brushing off health issues as we do so often in western culture these days... I'm almost positive I looked exactly the same way at her age, though my concept of my own body has always been a little skewed... I just don't want that for her, yk? also don't want to say "it's ok if you're gaining weight, it's part of puberty" (which is what I've been saying) if my information is false and it is actually NOT part of puberty, but just a common health issue that often precludes puberty...

We're Tiffani , Mark , Lucy (9/99) , Dexter (8/01) ,and Zachary Marvin (3/07) and Naomi Rose (6/09), home 11/10, by way of Ugandan adoption.

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#4 of 20 Old 10-20-2009, 11:46 AM
 
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Aside from the common weight gain that occurs during puberty, there is also a trend for some teen girls to become less active at this stage of their lives. There are a lot of factors - they may lose interest in extra-curricular sports, there may be fewer activities available for this age group, there may be peer pressure to give up sports...

I've seen it happen with my own daughter, who once danced a couple of times a week, and played soccer in the summer and hockey in the winter. The leagues seemed to be more competitive for this age, and she wasn't interested in a highly competitive play. Another friend has a teen daughter who was swimming competitively, but is giving it up because she's tired of trying to balance 8 practices a week with school and other non-sport activities.

Between the drop in physical activity and indulging in a typical teen snacking diet (lots of carbs and high fat foods), there is a risk of non-healthy weight gain.

We've compensated for the drop in activities in organized sports with an increase in walking and general activity level. She walks to school (about 2 miles per day there and back), and to her friends' houses (another mile or so 2 or 3 times a week). We emphasize healthy foods.

It's wise to be aware, and to try to compensate where you can for unhealthy trends.
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#5 of 20 Old 10-20-2009, 12:47 PM
 
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My DSD said the same thing (about being fat/gaining weight) around age 11. My response:

"Healthy bodies come in lots of shapes and sizes. There's no one perfect healthy body. And health is about a lot more than how much you weigh, honey. It's about how you feel, how strong your immune system is, what your mental health is like, and how your personal relationships play out. Throughout our lives, our bodies change. It's part of the journey and it's completely normal. It doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with you or that you're all of a sudden unhealthy. There are lots of things that all people, regardless of their size and shape, can do to make sure they're living healthy lives. And I think we're pretty good about doing those things in our family. We eat well, we get enough sleep, we talk about our problems, we play outside and move our bodies, and we always try to be kind to one another. Those are the important things, babe. If you hang onto that, you'll be just fine. Weight is just a number if you're living the good life."

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#6 of 20 Old 10-20-2009, 12:55 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mild_adventurer View Post
My DSD said the same thing (about being fat/gaining weight) around age 11. My response:

"Healthy bodies come in lots of shapes and sizes. There's no one perfect healthy body. And health is about a lot more than how much you weigh, honey. It's about how you feel, how strong your immune system is, what your mental health is like, and how your personal relationships play out. Throughout our lives, our bodies change. It's part of the journey and it's completely normal. It doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with you or that you're all of a sudden unhealthy. There are lots of things that all people, regardless of their size and shape, can do to make sure they're living healthy lives. And I think we're pretty good about doing those things in our family. We eat well, we get enough sleep, we talk about our problems, we play outside and move our bodies, and we always try to be kind to one another. Those are the important things, babe. If you hang onto that, you'll be just fine. Weight is just a number if you're living the good life."


Nice post! I don't talk with my dc in terms of weight or shape, but rather we talk about good health, keeping strength and maintaining energy.
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#7 of 20 Old 10-21-2009, 10:52 AM
 
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My DD went through the same kind of growth pattern. She had a hearty appetite at that age too. I also tip toed around what's healthy and what's not. I'm sure, consciously or subconsciously, my own body issues fed into my concern. At the time many of her friends were still quite skinny and lanky. She felt fat.
Dh and I felt the most important thing was to keep the home diet clean and do what we could to keep her from feeling fat since she saw herself that way.
Sports helped her to honor her body for what it can do and not how it looks.
She's almost 15 and has developed a beautiful, tall, athletic woman's figure.
Some girls are lanky and thin all through puberty and stay that way. It's different for everyone.
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#8 of 20 Old 10-21-2009, 08:34 PM
 
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My tall, but otherwise average sized dd is in the same phase. I notice it with some of the girls her age, and others look exactly the same as they did a year ago. What I absolutely hate is that the older girls clothing, ie size 14 is often too short for my dd, and it pushes us into the junior realm--I would rather not be there at this point. Those clothes are not made for tall developing pre-teens, IMO. Anyway, my dd has a hearty appetite, esp/ during growth spurts. I really only say something if I feel there has been enough bread/carbs in a single meal, and offer lots of other choices. Because dd makes her own food choices at school we do talk about what will fuel her body, and what might give her energy, but then also a crash. I can't, nor do I want to, control all of this. I know a lot of it is pre-teen food taste, peers, and learning to make good choices, so I'm sitting back watching all of these many changes and trying to support, not nag!
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#9 of 20 Old 10-23-2009, 01:50 PM
 
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My son gained along from age 10-11. By age 12 he started thinning out and increased in height. He's tall and thin now at 14. We modeled good eating/exercise habits.

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#10 of 20 Old 10-23-2009, 02:43 PM
 
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I'm having a hard time navigating exactly how to walk the line between helping her stay healthy and just accepting that maybe (?) weight gain is just part of puberty???
It seems to be fairly common, but not universal. It's genetically determined, and everyone has different genetics. In our family, for instance, kids put on substantial weight around 8 years old and start shedding it at puberty.

What I hear you saying is that you don't know whether to believe that her weight gain is normal and healthy or whether it's a result of eating too much. But even if you knew, what would you do? The same thing that you'd do if you didn't know, I hope: just continue to provide healthy foods for her and opportunities to be active (in a natural, not contrived way,) and not encourage an environment where she's obsessing about food and body image. That is all you can do that will be helpful. Telling her she needs to watch her food intake (aside from talking generally about being aware of how foods make her feel) IS going to be counterproductive and harmful.

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I also don't want to ignore warning signs that her health isn't where it should be.
What do you see as the warning sign? That she's gaining weight or that she's increased her sugar consumption? Would you be worried that "her health isn't where it should be" if her body was staying the way that you prefer it to look?
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This is such a confusing time... she's often tired (growing? not enough sleep? too much sugar?) and complains of an upset tummy every few days or so. We have talked about food intolerances, and she recognizes that pizza gives her a sick stomach, so she doesn't eat it anymore. too bad she can't feel the effects that sugar have on her!
If sugar is making her sick she just may not be mentally making the connection yet. But please remember that sugar is just a carb, like any other carb. It's quick energy for the body, and her metabolism may be demanding it. Simple sugars are not inherently evil, they are just sometimes not what the body needs, just as protein is sometimes not what the body needs. If I eat pure protein without carbs or just too much, I feel sick. Does that mean protein is bad?

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today she tried on her new bra and said "I'm getting fat, I need to go on a diet"...
Big, big, big red flag. She already has bought the social message that there's something wrong with her body (and likely, therefore, something wrong with her behavior,) and this is exactly how disordered eating and thinking about one's body starts. You really need to nip this in the bud.

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which are painful words to hear come out of your child's mouth (and yes, I just redirected the conversation to healthy choices rather than dieting) but how active should I be in helping her "lose weight" when I'm wondering if that weight is there for a reason, and will go away on it's own when those boobies really come into their own?
Regardless of why the weight is there, it is a very bad idea to encourage the idea that she should try to lose weight. Don't put that psychological burden on her. It won't work and will likely backfire. Dieting doesn't work, except temporarily, is inherently stressful to the body, and usually results in a protective response by the body (reduced metabolism.) If you are really concerned about her health, DO NOT focus on her losing weight. Do not control her eating, except invisibly if you must (e.g. stocking the house with healthy and satisfying food.) If psychological issues surrounding food don't continue to develop and she doesn't have some sort of dysfunction in her food processing system, her food-body relationship will be fine. It may very well not look like what society says it should look like, but it will be healthy.
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#11 of 20 Old 10-23-2009, 07:50 PM
 
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Well, I was reading along and composing a big post on how fat doesn't equal unhealthy and how I would be WAY more concerned with her saying she needs to diet than anything else and then I got to fourlittlebirds post. So, ITA with fourlittle birds.

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#12 of 20 Old 10-24-2009, 10:54 AM
 
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My DD is 9 1/2 and we are going through the exact same thing. She has put on a lot of weight in the last year. She craves carbs and is always hungry. The only thing I have said about the eating is that she needs protien for her body to be satisfied and I tried to teach her about portion control. A serving of Goldfish crackers is fine, a bag is not. When I am not looking, she will sometimes grab a bag of snack food and go to the basement and eat it. I guess I just can't have any crackers in the house? We don't buy chips or cookies...I just run out of ideas when she says she is hungry. She eats beans, hummus, fruit, etc. but is still hungry!

My DD hasn't said anything about her body but I hope none of her peers have. That would make me so sad!

Does she have any other signs of puberty? My DD is moody, has little pimples, greasy hair and breast buds.

I try to buy her clothes that are not so fitted on top, like empire waist shirts but I wonder if that is more for me or her...

To me one of the hardest parts about being a parent is not wanting to over react but not wanting to not react and look back and wish you had done more.

I think more family activity is the best way to go...it's just so hard for us with me working more and winter coming on.

I'm not very helpful but just wanted to say I understand...
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#13 of 20 Old 10-24-2009, 08:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks to everyone for the replies!

I think that the crux of the issue, for me, is that I'm trying to not feed into the body image junk that abounds in this society, but also not ignore possible signs (and weight gain *can* be a sign) that her diet vs. exercise levels are not maybe where they should be. I came into this thread with the assumption that weight gain is just part of early puberty, and was hoping for confirmation of that -- I keep reading these articles about how "overweight" girls/kids go through puberty earlier, and I really can't help but wonder if part of that is just the fact that a lot of kids put on "extra" weight during early puberty.

The whole idea of "dieting" is new to dd, living, as we do now, in a neighborhood of girls her age who talk about dieting, being fat, etc. I have given them all the big lecture about health and society and all that jazz, and I don't think any of them are too over the top with it, but that whole world was totally foreign to my kids until we moved here, so it isn't like it's ingrained in my dd, or that she's getting that message from me or anyone in our family. so I'm not terribly worried about eating disorders or anything like that with her, I just want her to be proud of her body and what it can do, not worried that it doesn't look exactly how she thinks it should.

She does eat fairly well, and gets a reasonable amount of exercise. I think my worry stems from the fact that, like someone else mentioned, she isn't as active as she was when she was a little younger and running around everywhere, and her sugar intake has increased lately. I agree that sugar isn't pure evil, but it can throw off your candida balance and that makes you crave it all the more... I can speak from experience! so that's just something we talk about and keep an eye on...

and 4 little birds, the same thought occurred to me -- I wouldn't really *do* anything differently regardless of the cause of the weight gain (and I wouldn't encourage a growing child to lose weight or eat less, which is why I put "lose weight" in quotations -- I should have just said "take a more healthful approach to eating" ) but it does settle my own mind to know that the extra pudge is there for a reason, not because she's unhealthy... and I think if *my* mind is settled about it, it's much easier for me to honestly convey assurance and healthy information to her if she seems worried about it.

I feel like in our society it's really hard to have a good sense of healthy weight -- so much fat phobia floats around (my parents were pretty bad for this, my mom even congratulating me on losing 8 lbs in my first trimester of pregnancy when I told her I was worried about it ), the advertising we see is ridiculous, and we tend to backlash and insist that extra weight isn't a problem at all, when it certainly can be a problem, especially as we age. So it's a much bigger task to instill healthy attitudes in my kids than I ever thought it would be -- somehow we didn't stay in the isolated bubble I had envisioned at the time of their birth!

We're Tiffani , Mark , Lucy (9/99) , Dexter (8/01) ,and Zachary Marvin (3/07) and Naomi Rose (6/09), home 11/10, by way of Ugandan adoption.

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#14 of 20 Old 10-29-2009, 06:15 PM
 
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My top concern would be refuting my daughter's fear that she is fat or needs to diet. I wouldn't even mention healthy eating or such in response to that at all. A simple- you are not fat and you do NOT need to diet; you are beautiful and it's a problem that our society makes young girls think they are fat - would do. At other times that you would usually talk about healthy choices, that's fine but if you do it in response to her saying she's fat then I think it reinforces it. Kid thinks "mom's just being nice and doesn't want to say I'm fat but she's worried too".

In terms of the puberty question, yes, I think it's true that kids often grow "out" before they grow "up". My friend has a niece who is 11. Last year I saw her and she was what people would have described as an overweight kid. I saw her this year and she looks like someone becoming a young woman. She just grew into herself. She's still not super-thin but perfectly healthy and more proportioned.

Kids are going to be less active when they're older than when they're kids. I think that's natural. We can encourage activity and healthy choices but if you've set a good foundation then it's up to them to navigate as they grow. For the record, my 10 year old daughter eats too much sugar and not enough of the healthy stuff even though she likes healthy foods - she's skinny as a rail. Dr's are thrilled and no one questions her health - but it's just as problematic for her as it is for someone with a propensity to put on weight. So often I think health is a real cover for fat-phobia. In pre-adolescent and adolescent girls, I'm going to err on the side of body-positive/non-intervention unless there's some glaring obvious problem to be addressed.
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#15 of 20 Old 10-30-2009, 04:30 PM
 
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My daughter is 14 y.o. Yes, yes, yes to everything 4littlebirds said.

Agreed, you should be most concerned about countering the "I'm fat" attitude and the peer pressure. Believe it or not, simply being frank and explicit helps. "I know these girls are all concerned about being fat and dieting all the time. And I know you want to get along with them. But you need to know that they have the wrong idea about it. Dieting in unhealthy. Worrying about your appearance like that is unhealthy. You can still be friends with them and disagree with them."

That way you are supporting her and her self-esteem in those moments of self doubt.

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#16 of 20 Old 10-30-2009, 05:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I absolutely agree with all that has been said. My dd only said anything about 'being fat' or dieting once, and she said it in a joking but half-serious kind of way, I think trying to gauge my reaction, or maybe for reassurance. I just told her that that's what girls' bodies often do when they're in early puberty, and that her body is doing exactly what it needs to do to grow in a healthy way. The girls in this neighborhood aren't obsessive about this issue or anything -- I remember them talking about it when we first moved in, but I think they've clued in that my dd is different than a lot of the girls their age and they don't need to worry about those kinds of things together. The kids in the neighborhood always want to play at our house, and I think a lot of it is the fact that they can still be kids here -- there's no girl drama or older brothers teasing them for playing with dolls or whatever. and I am glad that the "dieting" thing has come up when I was within earshot, because I was able to pop my head in and sort of set the tone for our home about the issue.

anyway, thanks for all the input, I'm not at all worried about it anymore.

We're Tiffani , Mark , Lucy (9/99) , Dexter (8/01) ,and Zachary Marvin (3/07) and Naomi Rose (6/09), home 11/10, by way of Ugandan adoption.

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#17 of 20 Old 11-18-2009, 12:17 AM
 
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I'm coming back to this thread because although I posted about not nagging my dd about food, I did it anyway!! I have to say that I was a little concerned that dd at 11 is about 90-95, lbs, tall for her age, and frankly, eating like there is no tomorrow. I don't know where this is on the growth charts-I know she is definitely 'rounding out". feels very pre-adolescent, etc. She's also pretty active-equestrian sports a few times a week, plays outside, normal activity for her age, I think. She looks tall, pretty, slim wears about a size 14, etc. So why am I kind of freaking out?? The appetite is huge-she literally wants dinner after school, and is ready for dinner again at the usual time. We have all of the healthy options, and she loves to cook for herself, so this is OK. I'm just adjusting-I want her to be healthy, and comfortable, and not have a mom who is suddenly worried about weight.
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#18 of 20 Old 11-18-2009, 04:16 PM
 
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Tiffani: I don't have a pubescent daughter, and my personal history is useless, as I have disordered eating. However, I am wondering if she's eating enough non-sugary foods? DS1 always ate really well and could totally take or leave candy (he was the kind of kid who never finished his Easter basket or Hallowe'en candy)...until he hit puberty. He's much more interested in sweets now, and I'm pretty sure it's because they're an easy way to get calories. He needs calories - not saying he needs sugar, but he needs calories. I've never had any weight concerns about him, but I don't like his sugar intake. I have noticed that when he eats more of other foods, he doesn't eat as many sweet things. I'm pretty sure some of the sugar consumption is because he's running low on calories, so he grabs something sugary.

I have no idea if this applies to your dd, but it's something to think about. Caloric needs really do jump in puberty. I don't think it's quite as pronounced for girls as for boys (ds1 once put on 35 pounds in 6 months -no fat), but it still happens. Unfortunately, we live in a culture where girls, in particular, are suddenly pummeled with "be skinny" messages at a time where they're much less likely to be skinny.

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#19 of 20 Old 11-18-2009, 06:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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to the above two posts, she definitely has had an increase in her appetite, and healthy foods are not always her first choice for something to grab. she does pretty well, but she definitely has that sweet-snacky craving going on a lot more these days...

We're Tiffani , Mark , Lucy (9/99) , Dexter (8/01) ,and Zachary Marvin (3/07) and Naomi Rose (6/09), home 11/10, by way of Ugandan adoption.

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#20 of 20 Old 11-19-2009, 07:50 PM
 
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First of all, yes, the weight gain is normal. Secondly, sugar may or may not affect her, at the very least I don't believe there's a connection between feeling tired and eating sugar. I'd look at her bed time and sleep, I know my daughter likes staying up late to read and talk on the phone.

It's normal for teens to crave the fattiest, sugar laden nasty food...and they can eat it,too, as their calorie need is high enough to allow for it.

I would start restricting in the sense of " oh you can't eat cake today". Make sure to prepare snacks for her and incl. some of her favorite unhealthy stuff,too. I still make fruit plates for my teen and she eats it just fine...if I'm not around, she'll just grab whatever is the fastest, like cup noodles
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