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#1 of 16 Old 11-04-2009, 03:24 PM - Thread Starter
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So, my nine year old has always been very picky when it comes to food. She is also (imo) too concerned with her appearance etc. She likes that people comment on how skinny she is, etc. This is so not me. . . I was never like this and still really don't care what people think about how I look. I don't want to look like a slob, but I am more concerned with comfort and enjoying myself to worry about it. Even as a teen, I never did those crazy teen diets or only ordered salads on dates. I ate what I wanted. Now, I am a bit overweight, but I am not obsessed with it. I have been trying to steer the family to more healthy meals, and trying to exercise regularly. The keyword in our house is healthy NOT skinny.

That being said, my mom is very vain. She is (imo) obsessive when it comes to weight management, appearance, etc. She constantly gives me "advice" to help me shed my extra pounds (by the way, I need to lose 20-30 pounds). Not all her advise is good advice and none of it is asked for. So, while I don't want to point a finger, mom would be the only source of influence that I can think of. Especially since we really limit the tv and other media and have tried to bring up children who are aware of marketing, etc.

Recently, I discovered that she didn't eat her lunch at an all day rehearsal. She was there from 8:30-4:00. She did have a zone bar for a snack but left the lunch alone. I am getting nervous about future anorexia. . .because of the double whammy of picky eater and vanity. I am willing to jump to a veg. lifestyle --have been feeding the family more veg. meals all the time. But, in addition to not liking much meat, she also won't touch eggs, milk, tofu, & beans (except she does like Nalley's chili). I realize that most people eat way too much protein, but she has actually had bloodwork that showed low levels of protein. (this was when she was 7)

I am posting this to find out what I can do NOW to make sure that she doesn't become anorexic. I was mad that she didn't eat (my mom said, well honey, I often only ate one meal a day as a teen). First off, she is not a teen, second -- I don't think that is healthy, third--she was very active that day, and four--she has had nutritional deficits in the past.

Some people say, make dinner and serve it. If they are hungry they will eat at least some of it. Not so with Anna, she really won't eat it.

Has anyone dealt with this. I do homeschool her--am including nutrition as part of our health studies. But, I don't want to be pushy and make it worse.

Amy

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#2 of 16 Old 11-05-2009, 12:14 AM
 
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I had eating disordered thinking in my early teens, but not before age 12. 9 is so, so young

This advice is based more on my reflections of my own state of mind at that point, and less on research, so take that for what it is worth.

There was little my parents could do at that point to change my thinking. I had learned that being thin made me special (from peers as well as from family members), and I was running with it. It was increasingly the thing I was most proud of

So, if I saw this kind of thinking creeping up in my dd, the first thing I'd do is try to get her excited about and involved in something that focused on strength and power--not appearance. Maybe karate, or competitive swimming, or something like that. Something that requires calories and protein for performance. And, something with a coach or mentor other than me who could encourage my dd to use food for fuel and build her strength to perform well.

At home, I would follow the "make food and serve it" advice, avoiding and power struggles about food. I would, however, make an effort (without advertising it to dd) to have food on the table that she likes every meal.
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#3 of 16 Old 11-05-2009, 12:23 AM
 
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Everything that sunmama just said rings true for me as well....I couldnt have said it better - so I wont.

Im sorry you and your girl are going through this

Lindsay: DS#1 (06/06) DD#1 (09/07) DS#2 (10/08) DD#2 (06/09). AND A BABY DUE NOVEMBER 2013

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#4 of 16 Old 11-05-2009, 12:36 AM
 
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that:

Sunmama said it all too well... so i wont expand other to say that my dd's Dr made her feel terrible about 3 years ago, and we promtly changed Drs - the last thing i wanted was for my baby (7 at the time) to ever expereince what i suffered as a teen

I hoe you are able to reach your daughter and work through this s:

~Kris mama to Alexis (15), Elizabeth (10), Andrew (7), and 1 angel
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#5 of 16 Old 11-05-2009, 01:20 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks,

Her love is acting, and although the local groups don't mention size and don't seem concerned about it in the least, I know that lots of famous actors/actresses have stress put on them to look a certain way.

She also likes basketball and her season starts next week. This year we are not coaching it, so maybe that will help. But, people don't think that they need to talk nutrition to a nine year old team. If anything, with the nation's "battle against childhood obesity", if it gets brought up it involves information about what not to eat or portion control.

And, I guess I rambled so much that I wasn't very clear. While dd really will not eat dinner if she doesn't like it, I do make sure that she likes at least PART of the meal. Usually, it is the raw veggies with ranch. And I try to make the main part suit her at least once a week. I don't advertise this, but I AM done arguing with her about dinner. Even when I make a stew or soup, the kids just pick out the parts they like. But it did make me sad that she didn't eat any of her meal at rehearsal--that was made based on her likes.

Amy

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#6 of 16 Old 11-05-2009, 01:37 PM
 
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As far as her not eating dinner if she doesn't like it - can you have her make something of her own that she DOES like?

My mom's meal policy was this: If we didn't like what she made, we didn't have to eat it, but we did have to eat something - we got to make it ourselves. My little brother made himself a lot of PB&J sandwiches b/c of this. At 9yo your daughter is capable and old enough to start taking some responsibility for what she eats.

As far as not eating her lunch - did you talk to the adults that were present? They could have made sure everyone ate their lunch (I say this after working at camps and being in charge of many kids at a time - we always made sure everyone ate something at each meal). If they don't make sure everyone eats their lunch now, maybe that can be a policy in the future.
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#7 of 16 Old 11-06-2009, 11:35 AM
 
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You might find this book interesting:

Regaining your self: Breaking Free from the Eating Disorder Identity by Ira Sackler

http://www.amazon.com/Regaining-Your...7517961&sr=8-1

Not for your d to read really-- but as a parent it might help you understand or give ideas.

It basically reiterates what sunmama said-- help her develop an identity and self worth around some other activities she truly loves.
Also, this has some great ideas:

Preventing Childhood Eating Problems by Jane Hirschmann

http://www.amazon.com/Preventing-Chi...7518140&sr=1-1

hth--
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#8 of 16 Old 11-06-2009, 01:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Thyra--did your mom have any guidelines for what you made instead of dinner? I like this idea, but worry about what she would choose. Probably a handful of crackers.

No, I didn't talk to any of the adults, but am considering it. We have 4 more all day things with this production (this time two shows for each of those days--they eat between shows). I will be a backstage mom for 2 of them and will of course make sure she has something to eat. But, I think I may find a mom to check on dd for me the other two days.

dhammamama--thanks for the book recs. I will be looking those up. I just want to nip this in the bud before it becomes a real problem.

Thank you all.

Amy

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#9 of 16 Old 11-06-2009, 02:29 PM
 
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Does she have sensory issues and phobias about food? I'd probably have an evaluation for her if it was my kid.

I have all kinds of food issues. For example cannot stand some textures, have food allergies, have issues with meat, it has to be wholly cooked and must be proven to me that it is well done. I had an eating disorder as a teen and there are soooo many factors, but control is definately a big one.

I would have a metabolic workup to make sure her nutritional needs are met and get her some help with self-esteem and coping skills. You definately don't want this to be a power struggle with her.

My parents waited like five years to get me help and by then there was a lot of serious damage.
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#10 of 16 Old 11-06-2009, 02:53 PM
 
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This could be entirely off base, but I thought I'd mention it just in case - I realize that with a young girl it could potentially turn into a calorie counting kind of thing so it may be the exactly wrong this to try, since it might make her even more aware of food...but it might help if approached from the right direction, so I'll post it anyway. My apologies if it's the wrong idea - if it is please just let me know and I'll gladly edit and remove the suggestion.

My son had a puking phobia for a while, that developed into a choking/coughing phobia because he thought choking would make him puke....and it really snowballed into him barely eating anything for fear of throwing up (we got him some help about this, at a very young 5 years old - hoo boy!) He would argue with me that he didn't need to eat any more than he was eating - which was very, very untrue, and he actually lost several pounds, which when you're only 43 pounds to start with is not great.

One of the things I did with him was go online and do some research and then created a chart that had how many servings of different food groups he needed in a day to stay healthy and grow - I emphasized the staying healthy, growing strong, and having energy to play parts and didn't say a word about calories or weight. We made a little chart to tick off to be sure that we were having enough fruits/veggies/protein/grains, and when it was out there in a visual format it took the "struggle" out of it because it wasn't me telling him he needed to eat more, he could see that there was still sections he needed to fill in for a day. Once he was over the throwing up thing, it wasn't needed really, but for a while it was very helpful to us.

Since yuo're homeschooling, maybe you could work in a lesson on nutrition and make up some kind of chart/grid about how much food a person needs to eat to stay healthy, etc, work in basal metabolic rates in there, and then make some kind of visual thing for her to see and make sure she's eating enough of the *right* kinds of foods to fuel her body (i.e., not crackers and a Zone bar). You'd probably want to do it for the whole family so as to not single her out - and she could see how younger, growing bodies need more calories to develop, etc. if you did the whole family. Just be sure to look around before you search with her, because the FDA food pyramid can be pretty heavy on starches/grains.

This of course doesn't address the self esteem issues, but I think others addressed that well above. I just wanted to throw out an idea that worked really well with my own kiddo - it took the power struggle out of the picture when it was there in black and white.

Good luck with this, I can't imagine how difficult it is at such a young age.

Heather, WAHM to DS (01/04)DD (06/06). Wed to DH(09/97)
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#11 of 16 Old 11-06-2009, 03:04 PM
 
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Originally Posted by sunnmama View Post
the first thing I'd do is try to get her excited about and involved in something that focused on strength and power--not appearance. Maybe karate, or competitive swimming, or something like that. Something that requires calories and protein for performance. And, something with a coach or mentor other than me who could encourage my dd to use food for fuel and build her strength to perform well.

At home, I would follow the "make food and serve it" advice, avoiding and power struggles about food. I would, however, make an effort (without advertising it to dd) to have food on the table that she likes every meal.
I think this is very good advice. I also thought of finding something she likes (other than acting - which I'd keep her in if she loves it) that requires a healthy body and fuel to compete or perform.

My dd1 is a tiny bit "I had a cookie at lunch; do you think I should have this dessert or not?" While I like that she wants to make healthy choices, she is slender and super active (dance classes four days a week for up to two hours per day plus just got done with volleyball with daily hour practices). I just want a balance for her, and for her not to stress over it. I do think this has improved over the last couple of years.

We are VERY lucky to have two people in her life that are super amazing role models for healthy eating - her dance teacher and her former PE/health teacher. Both are in amazing shape and perform/compete themselves at very high levels - and both tell the kids they have to EAT and make healthy choices if they want to perform/compete at a high level. Every word has been taken to heart.

Have you looked at The Care and Keeping of You by the American Girl library? It is for girls ages 8 and up, and is really great IMO. It talks about growing up, puberty changes but also the need for adequate sleep, nutrition and hydration, hygiene, etc. Really good book. They also have other books (my dd1 has them all) that are about healthy choices - one is blue and was sold at Bath and Body Works for a while I think? Try the American Girl section at Borders.

Sometimes it is easier if it doesn't come from us...
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#12 of 16 Old 11-06-2009, 04:27 PM
 
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Try not to overreact about the not eating lunch. She did eat something right (the zone bar)? She might have been nervous and couldn't eat much more. I used to show horses when I was a teen. For a while, I was so nervous that I could not eat anything until all my classes were over because it just sat in the pit of my stomach due to nerves. I know it drove my mom crazy but I just couldn't do it.

My DD is 11 and very picky too, so I do understand your worries about future eating disorders. My DD is on swim team and practices 3 or 4 times per week so she really needs to eat. Therefore, I just let her make something else for dinner if she doesn't like what we're having (she'll usually make a PB & J).
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#13 of 16 Old 11-06-2009, 11:44 PM
 
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At times my kids have also had issues with the taste or texture of some foods.

I don't want to seem critical, but I noticed that the things your dd has eaten/would prefer to eat are often fairly highly processed foods like Zone bars, crackers, etc. Sometimes the "starve 'em out" approach works. You only provide whole food choices and they finally take a few nibbles and discover that they like some things! However, I admit this is not always a practical approach in a family that is busy and has a variety of nutritional needs.

Have you tried to involve her in food preparation? Sometimes amazing things happen when kids get to make meals. You might have to endure some inedible concoctions, but you might learn a bit about what appeals to your dd.

Finally, if she finished the big theatre day feeling good, but only eating a few bites of healthy food, I'd be okay with that. If she got in the car and was rude or difficult, I'd point out that good nutrition is a way to keep feeling good all day.
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#14 of 16 Old 11-09-2009, 01:48 AM - Thread Starter
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I am trying to reply to several of the responses, but am not getting the multiple quotation thing right, so forgive me, but I am using copy/paste.

Does she have sensory issues and phobias about food? I'd probably have an evaluation for her if it was my kid. . . .

I would have a metabolic workup to make sure her nutritional needs are met and get her some help with self-esteem and coping skills. You definately don't want this to be a power struggle with her.


She does seem to have sensory issues with food. She is very picky and very sensitive. She is gifted, I mention only because it seems common for gifted kids to be super sensitive in areas. What evaluation do you mean? I have only had nutritional panels done in the past, which is why I know that she sometimes runs low on protein.

Since yuo're homeschooling, maybe you could work in a lesson on nutrition and make up some kind of chart/grid about how much food a person needs to eat to stay healthy, etc, work in basal metabolic rates in there, and then make some kind of visual thing for her to see and make sure she's eating enough of the *right* kinds of foods to fuel her body (i.e., not crackers and a Zone bar). You'd probably want to do it for the whole family

I love this idea--we have been doing lots of health related learning for homeschooling. This could be easily done. Thanks for the idea!

Have you looked at The Care and Keeping of You by the American Girl library?

She has a copy and LOVES this book!

Try not to overreact about the not eating lunch. She did eat something right (the zone bar)? She might have been nervous and couldn't eat much more. I used to show horses when I was a teen. For a while, I was so nervous that I could not eat anything until all my classes were over because it just sat in the pit of my stomach due to nerves. I know it drove my mom crazy but I just couldn't do it.

This makes sense, I am trying to keep perspective on this, but I really don't want to be in trouble in a few years because I failed to notice the signs.


I don't want to seem critical, but I noticed that the things your dd has eaten/would prefer to eat are often fairly highly processed foods like Zone bars, crackers, etc. Sometimes the "starve 'em out" approach works. You only provide whole food choices and they finally take a few nibbles and discover that they like some things! However, I admit this is not always a practical approach in a family that is busy and has a variety of nutritional needs.

Have you tried to involve her in food preparation? Sometimes amazing things happen when kids get to make meals. You might have to endure some inedible concoctions, but you might learn a bit about what appeals to your dd.


The Zone bar is such a cop out. I know. It was part of my response a couple of years ago when her protein levels came back low. She was attending public school at the time and we had difficulty finding a lunch to pack. She will not eat any sort of sandwich. Won't travel with cheese, or anything that should be kept cold. Most kids can use an ice pack to keep it cool, but for some reason that bothered her too. She would pack chili until xmas of 2006 when she got very ill and her last meal had been chili. Took over 2 years before she would eat chili again. So, our lunch options were limited and the Zone bars had a lot of protein and she would eat them. We bought them again simply because of the rehearsal schedule. And I don't know what it is about crackers, but she likes those too. She does like RAW veggies--eats a bunch of those. As a family, we do eat fairly well. I eat almost all whole foods. For whole foods she will eat smoothies, veggies, and fruit. She likes spaghetti too.

She does cook with us. Just won't eat it. It really grosses her out if there is a bit of vinegar in a recipe. Even if she used to like the recipe, KNOWING that vinegar is in there will make her second guess whether she wants to eat it or not. We signed her up for a cooking class when she was 6 so that she would be exposed to more food with a group of girls who were all going to cook/eat together. Our hope was that she would try more things. She made great food, didn't try much, but brought it home for us to eat.


Thanks for all the tips, ideas, and information.

Amy

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#15 of 16 Old 11-09-2009, 12:18 PM
 
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She would pack chili until xmas of 2006 when she got very ill and her last meal had been chili. Took over 2 years before she would eat chili again.

<snip>

Even if she used to like the recipe, KNOWING that vinegar is in there will make her second guess whether she wants to eat it or not. We signed her up for a cooking class when she was 6 so that she would be exposed to more food with a group of girls who were all going to cook/eat together. Our hope was that she would try more things. She made great food, didn't try much, but brought it home for us to eat.
I feel your pain, in a more minor way but I feel it. My son I posted about above is very sensitive, has anxiety/perfection issues, and is....very bright - he's not profoundly gifted, but he's bright. I've been told it all goes hand in hand for some kids, too.

When my son went through his puking phobia issue and wasn't eating, he also at one point claimed he wanted to be a vegetarian and gave some very compelling, grown up arguments, so we honored it and purchased foods that would give him a healthy vegetarian diet...after the first week he decided he didn't like the foods he needed to eat to maintain a healthy vegetarian lifestyle and then (completely unprompted by us) admitted that he liked meat, he just was afraid to eat meat because it took a long time to chew and he was afraid if he didn't chew it long enough he would choke/throw up. Sooo, we started shredding his meat for a while, to work him back into it. But we were amazed at how far he took it, how convincing he was, and how anxious it made him - the anxiety started invading mroe and more of his daily life, not just around the food. It was shortly after that that we had him in play therapy for a while - he's just about wrapping up with it, and has done VERY well in it. That, combined with some meditation and self-affirmation type stuff has helped him a lot. Maybe those ideas might help out for you, too.

I've foudn for him, science-type angles and explanations work really really well. WHen I presented him with the, "it's basic math- you need this much fuel to make your body work, period." that sat better with him than vaguer concepts about health and nutrition.

Again, good luck!

Heather, WAHM to DS (01/04)DD (06/06). Wed to DH(09/97)
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#16 of 16 Old 11-09-2009, 02:24 PM
 
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It sounds like food is a huge control issue for the two of you. You are really invested and emotional about what she eats. Eating disorders are about control. You guys are all setup for her to rebel by just not eating -- she knows it will drive you nuts. I think the counseling for you guys might really help.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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