weight issues with young middle school girl

  1. You have chosen to ignore posts from AlisonatHome. Show AlisonatHome's posts

    weight issues with young middle school girl

    My daughter is 9 and slightly overweight.  Her pediatrician suggested she lose about 4 lbs but didn't say how.  I'm trying to be more strict about eating healthy and making sure we incorporate fruits and vegetables in every meal, cut down on portion sizes, etc.  She is already pretty active.  The trouble is my daughter is a little sensitive to this (she heard the doctor) and she really enjoys food, especially rich food like cheeses and chocolates.  The result has been some not-so-perfect conversations between us.  I'd appreciate any advice from the community on how to go about this and how to keep my relationship a pleasant one with my daughter.  Thank you.
     
  2. You have chosen to ignore posts from purplecow89. Show purplecow89's posts

    Re: weight issues with young middle school girl

    Pediatrician is, at the least, tactless.  Get a second opinion on her weight and if it's a bit high, have the goal be to "grow into her weight," i.e. keep her weight stable as she grows taller. It's a much more constructive way to look at the issue.

     
  3. You have chosen to ignore posts from ajuly09. Show ajuly09's posts

    Re: weight issues with young middle school girl

    If you believe that your daughter needs to loose a few pounds, I would approach the weight loss from a health stand point. If the topic comes up again saying something like  doctors are concerned about how everything is working in the body, and loosing a few pounds will allow your (organs?) to work their best.   
     Diets for kids are very tricky, please don't restrict her/ deprive her from her favorite foods.  The sweets/treats should not be taken out of the diet, but just like adults, should not be there all the time as a snack.  Keep fun treats like popsicles, fro-yo in the freezer and have as a choice after dinner.  Don't get rid of that cheese either, everything in moderation. Cooking light has some great recipes that don't get rid of food groups, just add the right amount of fats to recipes.  
     Lastly, your child looks up to you for what to eat, so if you are eating un-healthy things all the time your daughter will wonder why she can't have them. Eat healthy right along with her.   It's great that your daughter is active, that's the best thing for her!   Good luck! 
     
  4. You have chosen to ignore posts from kargiver. Show kargiver's posts

    Re: weight issues with young middle school girl

    I agree that it should be approached in your home (you can't controll the media!) as a health-only issue, not looks.  I just learned on Dr. Oz that for every pound we are overweight, we put 4 lbs extra on our joints.  So, those 4 lbs are translating to 16 lbs on her discs, knees, etc.  She won't want back and knee pain as she grows so she might be encouraged to make better choices simply to avoid pain.

    But, about "choices."  You are not here to be her friend and have all your conversations be "pleasant," but a parent.  She is 9?  She cannot, therefore, go to the grocery store or order whatever she wants at a restaurant.  YOU  have 100% of the decision making control.  If cakes and cookies are not available in the house, she can wail and moan, but can't do a thing about it.  She'll adjust and even develop a distaste (or at least less of a craving) for sweets if they truly are a rare "treat."

    That's not to say that kids should have a stressful relationship with their parents, of course, but if decisions for their benefit are being made that they don't like that's life, and a GOOD and NECESSARY part of life if you want healthy, well adjusted, and, yes, eventually  VERY appreciative adult children who can look back and thank you profusely for making the tough choices that led them to be healthy adults.

    Actually, you're in for a pretty rough ride if you think from her being 9 - 25 all your conversations can or should be pleasant.  What kind of adult will she be if you never confront her about unhealthy behavior of any sort?  Confrontation, no matter how necessary, is NEVER fun or pleasant, but if you're constructive and non-derisive, that's the best you can do sometimes to be a responsible parent.

    P.S.  There were plenty of times my mom said, "Because I'm mean," when I asked for sugary treats and she refused to buy them.   I didn't want Grapenuts, I wanted Fruitloops.  But, that was that.  She made peace with my being upset about it, and now I'm 38 and a size 4.  I don't struggle one iota with my weight, and I credit my dear mom who didn't worry as much about pleasantness as she could have.  But, I must say, she was never mean.  That was just her way of saying, "End of discussion."
     
  5. You have chosen to ignore posts from AnnFox8011. Show AnnFox8011's posts

    Re: weight issues with young middle school girl

    I'd say be very matter-of-fact and casual about it without talking about it too much--everything in moderation, keeping healthy foods at home, making switches that aren't so noticable (low-fat string cheese vs. full fat, low fat frozen yogurt vs ice cream), and staying active in a fun way as a family (bike riding, sports, walks with the family dog). Long conversations send the message that something is really wrong--you don't want your daughter to end up classifying foods as "good" and "bad." In our home we talk about foods that are "sometimes" foods and the "gives you lots of energy to play, etc.." foods. Eating disorders are real, and conversations about weight are unhealthy. Your daughter needs to feel she is loved, that perfection in life is not expected, and that she is beautiful the way she is (while you, as a parent, model healthy eating/behavior, make modifications as necessary with the foods you choose to bring into the house, and while you together become more active as a family by choosing fun physical activities to enjoy).
     
  6. You have chosen to ignore posts from KAM2007. Show KAM2007's posts

    Re: weight issues with young middle school girl

    Have you tried the whole family approach? Everyone is making a pledge to eat healthier. That's your goal. Everyone could benefit from healthier choices, even if not overweight, cutting the cakes and cookies down (not out completely) will help everyone feel better.

    I'd also try having her involved in cooking, pick new cheeses that are lower in fat and start learning how to cook with them. Pick interesting new ingredients and try them out. This can create a great opportunity to explore new foods, learn to cook healthier (once she sees what's in her food she'll be more aware of it), gives you both an opportunity to talk more about life without the "sit down and listen to me" situations that often happen.

    You say she's already active, is it really as active as she should be? Meaning, can you incorporate more family activity, bike rides, hikes, etc. family activities that don't seem like exercise.

    I'd keep the long "we need to talk about your weight" conversations to a minimum, but have you related how her body is going to be changing in the next few years? That makes girls put on more fat weight, than muscle weight. And now is the time to establish healthy habits to help her body get ready for puberty.
     
  7. You have chosen to ignore posts from mezzogal1124. Show mezzogal1124's posts

    Re: weight issues with young middle school girl

    I agree with what other posters have said.  Your daughter is at a sensitive age, but it's also a great age at which to instill positive habits.  It's wonderful that she's active.  Keep stocking up on veggies and fruits (especially veggies).  Also, check in with your daughter about how she's feeling.  Is her stomach really telling her to eat more?  Learning to listen to one's body is of paramount importance.

    Of course you must be conscious of saturated fat and avoid too much red meat, cheese, heavy desserts, etc.  However, I would strongly caution you about giving your daughter "low fat" options to replace full-fat foods.  Not only are low fat foods less satiating than full fat ones (so your daughter wil get hungrier and think about food more often), low fat foods are almost always heavily processed and often full of artificial ingredients and sugar.  I used to love the Skinny Cow ice cream treats, for example, but they contain so many fake ingredients, they're really not good for you.  You'd be better off providing your daughter with smaller portions of real foods.  My family is Greek-American and I grew up eating full fat cheeses, olive oil, organ meats, and desserts made with cream and honey.  Of course, I also ate lots of greens, fish, Greek yogurt, whole grains, etc.  I'm 27 with a BMI of 23 and a size 6-8, and I'm really grateful that I learned how to eat without sacrificing real food.  We don't need to be so afraid of fat that we don't eat whole foods and, instead, fill our bodies with chemicals it was never intended to digest.

    Best of luck with this.  It's a difficult situation, but your daughter will thank you for it in the future.
     
  8. You have chosen to ignore posts from rysmom. Show rysmom's posts

    Re: weight issues with young middle school girl

    Is she only 4 lbs overweight or is that a starting point?  I would suggest seeing a nutritionist.  Sometimes we think we are eating healthy when we really aren't.  They also might be able to suggest alternative to the rich foods she enjoys.  Also, maybe call the doctor and speak to them with out your daughter around to see what they suggest.  I would also explain that she is sensitive about this issue so maybe they could be more tactful or speak to you privately in the future.
     
  9. You have chosen to ignore posts from kargiver. Show kargiver's posts

    Re: weight issues with young middle school girl

    It wasn't a modeling agency berating her - it was a medical doctor's opinion that she's over a good weight for her health.  I doubt he was mean and derrogatory about it.  If she's sensitive to it in a medical way, that's what we want.  Sensitivity to the issue will drive her to make health conscious decisions.  Maybe she'll be driven to impress the doctor with how much healthier she is next time and will be happy to hear his revised report.  The doctor is the BEST person to discuss it with her.  How more medically focused can the discussion be?

    I second seeing a nutritionist.  She is modeling your eating behaviors.  If you are overweight, do you overeat because it tastes good, not because you are still hungry?  Do you take more than you can eat on a first pass instead of taking less and only returning for more if you are still hungry?  Do you feel compelled to "clean your plate" despite being satisified?  If you feel and do these things, she will, too.  Also, like rysmom said, sometimes we think we're making healthy choices when we are not.  My DH truly believed that ANYTHING (cake, cookies, whatever) was automatically HEALTH FOOD if it was homemade.  He's a smart guy, but it took about 2 years of deprogramming for him to internalize the idea that items with butter, white flour, and sugar as the first 3 ingredients are bad for you no matter where it comes from.  Even smart, health-conscious people can be terribly mistaken.

    P.S.  Hearing it from the doctor will take pressure off the"mean" mom.  Mom won't be seen as making up terrible rules to make life miserable, she'll simply and non-emtionally be enforcing the doctor's orders.
     
  10. You have chosen to ignore posts from GC1016. Show GC1016's posts

    Re: weight issues with young middle school girl

    Ah, can I relate to this one. 


    I vividly remember when my pediatrician put both hands on my stomach, squeezed and said, getting a little chubby here, huh?  Time to put her on a diet, mom!  In looking back, I wasn't chubby at the time -- I was 11, and in that lovely round-out-pre-AF stage.  But from then on, I saw myself as fat.  I did get put on a diet.  I didn't lose weight.  I got AF a year later and thinned right out.  I still thought I was fat, and my house was incredibly unhealthy, both nutritionally and emotionally; the diet didn't address that.  I had no idea how to eat healthy, so high school was a charming cycle of Slim Fast and "normal" eating in our house, which involved lots of soda, snacks, and take out; my mom hated to cook. 

    I am carrying around extra weight now, and am faced with having to change a lifetime of food issues for me, and, by proxy, for my Bean.  Which is my long way of saying: you have an incredible opportunity to do something amazing for your daughter right now.  And, while I may be wrong, I hear your concern as one of trying to bridge that delicate territory of what's best, from a nutrition standpoint, and what's best for handling your daughter's self-esteem.  Tough love, while advisable in some cases, can really backfire here. 

    I think the first thing to do is educate yourself in terms of nutrition, cooking for a family, etc ... I'm not judging, but if it's an effort to incorporate fruits & veggies at every meal, there's room for improvement.  Ditto if healthy eating involves a crackdown in the house.  You may want to get a referral to a nutritionist for you and get info on cooking for health for the whole family. 

    I like the suggestion of a household healthy-eating initiative.  I'd advise against dramatic cabinet purges and proclamations about good v. bad food.  I'd take a look at how you cook -- could more whole grains be incorporated?  Less fat/salt?  More variety?  More emphasis on vegetables?  And involve the kids in meal-time prep/planning, within reason.  It's not their call what goes on the table, true, but kids tend to eat better when they're involved with prep and such. 

    I'd also tell your daughter that sometimes the doctor has to tell us stuff, for our own good, that we don't like to hear.  I'd share a time that it happened to you (if it has).  I'd also call the pediatrician back and ask for more information, share that your daughter was upset by the feedback, and ask for some guidance on how to proceed, both on the nutrition and the body-image front.  In fact, I'd do that first. 


    She already heard the pedi and is associating weight-loss with diets and punishment; you can't unring that bell.  But you can reframe the whole situation as something positive for the whole family, and slowly but surely clean up the fridge for everyone. 

    Good luck. 

     
  11. You have chosen to ignore posts from RedFishBlueFish. Show RedFishBlueFish's posts

    Re: weight issues with young middle school girl

    Why would "hearing it from the doctor" make it easier for her to understand and internalize new rules? Her body is changing (girls are starting puberty earlier and earlier) and now she probably thinks everyone is against her, for reasons she can't really understand. Becoming the food police will only make her resent you more and, unless you've been there yourself, you can't understand.

    Weight scales aren't everything. I went to the pedi as a teenager, losing weight like crazy and looking gaunt and unhealthy, complaining of being tired all the time because I couldn't sleep. What was the pedi's assessment? You're 20 lbs overweight, so you should go to Weight Watchers. Looking back at photographs from that time, my body is slim and perfectly proportionate, very little (if any) excess. My body is on a much larger scale than average (bone diameter), but the pedi only focused on the numbers. It's taken years to break out of the unhealthy self-image that resulted from that doctor visit.


    This is the perfect time of year to explore new, healthy foods. Go to a farmer's market. Join a CSA. Learn how to make fresh, healthy meals for everyone in the family and get her involved. She's at the perfect age to start learning how to cook and assemble meals (Mom cooks the protein while she cleans and chops the veggies for a big salad). That's healthy for the long term and won't make it seem like punishment.


    It's not even too late to start a small garden. Hit up a nursery and get a couple of bigger vegetable plants or herbs to use. Somehow things grown at home are just tastier. Good luck.

     
  12. You have chosen to ignore posts from kargiver. Show kargiver's posts

    Re: weight issues with young middle school girl

    I meant having it come from the doctor takes the pressure of the food issue off the mother/daughter relationship and puts it on the doctor's shoulders.

    Mom can say, "We need to work together for the health of everyone in the family because of what we learned from the doctor."  Instead of the dreaded, "Because I said so."
     
  13. You have chosen to ignore posts from purplecow89. Show purplecow89's posts

    Re: weight issues with young middle school girl

    Not every parenting question needs to get the "you're not the kid's friend, go around saying no to remind them you can, that's why this generation is goint to heck in a handbasket" lecture.

    If there is a positive, constructive way to handle something, why not take it?  No point in making things unpleasant just to show you are in charge.  Most kids know you're in charge without being beaten over the head with it.

     
  14. You have chosen to ignore posts from kargiver. Show kargiver's posts

    Re: weight issues with young middle school girl

    It doesn't have to be beaten into the kid to work and be a great answer to a lot of parenting issues.  A simple, "This is what's for dinner," while pointing at a lovely plate of bright veggies and lean meat that was lovingly prepared with the help of the child to make them feel involved etc. can solve the problem altogether.  Forcing a child to eat a meal like that (or allowing them to not eat 'til the next meal if that's their choice) is not abusive or hurtful even if they'd rather have pop tarts for dinner.  There doesn't have to be an elaborate scheme to mask the fact that mom gets and prepares the groceries and the kid eats what is prepared.  Assertiveness doesn't have to be mean and nasty, but parenting without it drives a lot of mistakes.  If you don't think it bears mentioning, so be it.
     
  15. You have chosen to ignore posts from Winter2011Bride. Show Winter2011Bride's posts

    Re: weight issues with young middle school girl

    I have no advice to offer except I agree that you see a nutritionist, I'm thinking about it myself as I am on the other end of this situation.  I have a 9.5 year old boy and I was told he is under weight.  I can't get him to eat anymore, so I've switched to whole milk, etc.  My son told me he's afraid to eat to more then what he does because he doesn't want to be the "fat" kid that gets picked on. 

    ETA: - He's not that underweight that it's an eating disorder just explaining that kids today get the wrong idea from shows, etc.  He's not that underweight, but he's very very active so the doctor mentioned it to me.

     
  16. You have chosen to ignore posts from kargiver. Show kargiver's posts

    Re: weight issues with young middle school girl

    Oh, no, Winter - that sounds like a budding eating disorder, and I'd see about seeing a therapist who is a specialist in childhood eating disorders immediately.  The nutritionist you choose should also DEFINITELY be skilled in this area, as well.  It's not something all nutritionists are able to handle properly just by virtue of being a nutritionist.  It's a special course of study that is essential in your case.

    P.S.  Winter, an eating disorder is NOT defined by how underweight a person is.  It's defined by thought patterns and eating behaviors dictated by those thoughts.   I know you were simply citing it as how kids can have a skewed view of their weight/health/etc., but his statemen about being petrified of getting fat and made fun of combined with his being even slightly underweight is of VAST concern.  Or, at least it SHOULD be setting off warning bells very loudly.  Please reconsider this as something to take very seriously because the longer it goes, the better he'll get at his "stay thin" habits (many of which he might be hiding), and the harder it will be to treat the issue effectively.  Now, at his age, it will be difficult, but as a teen, it will an excrutiating uphill battle.  I hope you'll take every precaution to nip this in the bud.    Waiting until he is at the "cutoff" weight (I don't know of any practitioner that believes you need to be a certain percentage underweight to have anorexia, but whatever) can have lifelong devestating implications.   And, even if anyone does measure anorexia partially by percent underweight, why wait (if other symptoms exist and the child is underweight to some degree) to get help?  Even if I'm totally wrong, it can't possibly hurt to find out and be SURE.
     
  17. You have chosen to ignore posts from MM379. Show MM379's posts

    Re: weight issues with young middle school girl

    As a mental health professional who works with MANY clients under/over weight and on a slippery slope with unhealthy eating habits, I recommend you guys do this together.  Everyone in the house take a healthy eating approach/more exercise approach (healthy taco night, family walk after dinner or a hike on the weekend).  It sounds like your daughter is very active as it is, which is great!  Don't eliminate anything 100%, just moderation.  I think that since the doctor already mentioned it, discussing the recommendation matter-of-factly and transparently is a good approach to ensure your daughter understands it is about HEALTH and not appearance.  Not discussing it openly could leave it to her own interpretation, and she could internalize it and think negatively of herself.  Someone could be overweight and not really even appear "chubby" and someone could be in a healthy weight range but look a little chubby from just their build.  I 100% recommend seeing a licensed dietitian (not all nutritionists are licensed dietitian).  Most I know are super realistic and down to earth, and there are ones who specialize in pediatrics. 
     
  18. You have chosen to ignore posts from MM379. Show MM379's posts

    Re: weight issues with young middle school girl

    Alison - I just reread your post.  It sounds like you are doing so many great things with your daughter already!  Sorry if I repeated things you are already doing or that others suggested.  Again, a down-to-earth, matter of fact dietitian who can make it about fueling ourselves and the vitamin and nutritional balance we need can be very, very helpful. 
     
  19. You have chosen to ignore posts from kargiver. Show kargiver's posts

    Re: weight issues with young middle school girl

    (Winter, see my P.S. to your ETA.)
     
  20. You have chosen to ignore posts from AlisonatHome. Show AlisonatHome's posts

    Re: weight issues with young middle school girl

    Thank you all so much for your comments.  You've given me some great ideas and things to think about.  This is stressful for me, which is why I posted my dilemma here.  I thought we were doing a lot of things right:  we eat together as a family most nights, have a garden, dessert is never a given, cook from scratch and focus on veggies and fruits (though I'm going to re-emphasize this using the inspiration from this group), etc.  We certainly do have some habits that aren't perfect.  And I'm certainly mingling my own feelings about weight with my daughter's -- even when I realize I'm doing it!  Anyway, I'm impressed with the responses and am so thankful for the support.  
     
  21. You have chosen to ignore posts from kargiver. Show kargiver's posts

    Re: weight issues with young middle school girl

    You ARE doing a lot of things right and should be congratulated.  I'm sure that got lost at least in my posts.  Sometimes I forget to praise where praise is due in my zealousness to help. :)  Putting your foot down regardless of the consequences seems to be the only thing you haven't done as consistently as you could for fear of upsetting her and putting a strain on your relationship with her.  That is exactly why I went in that direction so definitively.  I guess what I'm saying is that I think you do so much right that the only thing LEFT is to let her be upset once in awhile.   Good parent/child relationships can withstand that just fine, and she'll be stronger and wiser for it (and your relationship will be just as great).

    Allllllllllll parents impose at least some of their nuttiness on their kids; you are human, after all. 
     
  22. You have chosen to ignore posts from SarahInActon. Show SarahInActon's posts

    Re: weight issues with young middle school girl

    Taking a "I'm the mom, so I rule" hard a** approach is probably not the best.  You sound like a great supportive Mom so keep on doing that, ignore the scale, try and eat heathly together like a family.  At just9 years old, if she's healthy and active, I really doubt 4 lbs is a problem and puberty always has a way of chaning the game all over again. 

    Contrary to what other posters have said, even a 9 year old has a lot of control what she eats, she's at school, friends houses' etc so the best plan is to arm her with knowledge.  Making food into a battle is the LAST thing you want to do.
     
  23. You have chosen to ignore posts from kargiver. Show kargiver's posts

    Re: weight issues with young middle school girl

    3 tight prongs and one missing one still equals a loose stone.  Completely dismissing the option to say, "this is what's for dinner, take it or leave it" on a selective, non-arbitrary basis is just as bad as having it the only tool in your toolbag.

    ETA:  As my previous post illustrates quite clearly (imo) I never said to toss all the wonderful things she's doing out the window and replace it with "I said so."  It's a complex problem with a multipronged solution that should include the hardline not consist entirely of it.  Avoiding it altogether, though, seems as ridiculous to me as having it your only way of handling things.  It's a viable tool that, used with discretion, can be effective and postive.  Clear boundaries make kids less stressed.   Asserting your authority doesn't have to be a cruel, heartless, hateful, etc., thing.  It teaches children they can rely on you to make the tough choices for their good even if you risk making them upset for a time in the process.
     
  24. You have chosen to ignore posts from MummyKitM. Show MummyKitM's posts

    Re: weight issues with young middle school girl

    I question the 4lbs diagnosis. Is your daughter about to have a growth spurt? Remember that her doctor is seeing only a brief snap-shot in a whole year. I was told my daughter was borderline overweight(she was three) by her pedi in Jan. and then at her 4 year appt. in April, no problems. She had shot up about 1.5-2 inches and turned all that "fat" into height. Good luck!
     
  25. You have chosen to ignore posts from AlisonatHome. Show AlisonatHome's posts

    Re: weight issues with young middle school girl

    @MummyKitM she's actually gained about 15 lbs/year for the past 2 or 3 years, which seems like a lot to me, but she has also grown a couple or three inches each year too. She has ranked in the high percentiles each year.  She definitely looks a little chubbier than her friends, but not too unhealthy.  I agree with the doctor's assessment.  I liked the strategy that was mentioned in one of the first comments - not trying to lose weight at this point, but keep her weight gain at a slower pace.  And I think I have been coming on strong since the appointment -- I've been trying to put a positive spin on it: "we're going to change so that we're all healthier" and being firm about the changes, but I also agree that I don't want to battle over food.  It's difficult sometimes, especially when there's extended family involved :-) and when I internalize the struggle so that my responses come out wrong.  The comments to this post have been helpful in helping me see the long-term picture.
     

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