daughter is overweight, what to do..

philmont_2006January 23, 2007


I would love some help here. My daughter who is 7 is overweight. She has been slowly gaining weight over the years compared to her height. She has never been skinny and never will be (my boys arn't either). The main question is what should we do now. I think my wife is on board with me that we need to do something. She is not under active and I monitor her food intake but she must have the slowest metabolism in the world. I would like some specifics on food, that you can make in a hurry that is good for you.....

Any help will be apprecaited

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Best suggestions:
1. Limit sweets
2. encourage vegetables and fruits
3. encourage activities that involve movement (Dance, t-ball, soccor, etc)
4. Talk to your doctor to see if more needs to be done.
4. DO NOT put her on a diet without a doctors approval!!!

You said she is active, great. You said you monitor her food intake...OK IF it is within dietician approved guidelines. Slow metabolism...maybe. Foods to make in a hurry...Raw veggies and fruits. Easy as can be, and nutritious. My question though is she really overweight (what is her height to weight ratio), or just not as thin as you'd like her to be?


    Bookmark   January 23, 2007 at 4:46PM
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Perhaps a check by a GP first, before you embark on more drastic efforts.

I can tell you what I did with my son. He is 14. The good thing is he was keen to do something about his weight gain.

The whole family eats the same thing, I think that is really important, dont single out one person.

Serving sizes are smaller, than before.
No sugar.
No processed foods, or the bare minimum. Look for ones that are low in fat, and sugar, and relatively healthy.

Snacks are fruit, almonds, yogurt flavoured with frozen berries, or banana. Home baking is best, try using less sugar in muffins, for example and more fruit.
Drinks....we only have water, tea, freshly squeezed orange juice for breakfast.

We go to the shops, we dont eat any impulse foods. I do allow "treats" of the brilliant food sushi. Have you got that in the US, we have a brilliant sushi bar in my local shopping centre that has all sorts of yummy foods, that are good for you. They are made before your eyes, and fresh.

For breakfast, I make up our own cereal, that consists of all sorts of grains from my local organic shop. There is roasted buckwheat, puffed rice, rice bran, rolled oats, all sorts of things. I sweeten it with fruits, we have abundant blueberries at the moment so thats what we have on the cereal.

I also starting cooking a lot of fish, steamed in foil in the oven. That is quick and easy, and you can add any flavours you like. Salad every night, last night steamed veges.

I could go on forever with what I do, I dont want to bore you. If I can be any more help, send me an email.

One more thing, my son is a lot less moody, he was always really cranky when he was hungry, I suspect this was to do with sugar levels. Now, he is so much happier.

He has lost a few kilos of weight, but really, he is growing and we just wanted to put a stop to the weight gain, which is what has happened.

And you know the more you get into healthy eating, and lifestyle the better you will feel too.

Also, we exercise most days, with cricket, and walking along the beach and swimming.

All the best with your little girl.


    Bookmark   January 24, 2007 at 2:28AM
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Knock out the fruit juices and soda's. Or limit to one a day, and water or skim milk for the other liquids the rest of the day. They get used to it, and will actually prefer it after awhile.

Sometimes kids at school will trade foods, so you may pack healthy things for her, but she may be trading for sweets with others. But she seems a bit young to be doing that. That seemed to start around 4-5th grades. But watch portions. Do they get 2nd helpings? Does she snack alot when no one is paying attention?

    Bookmark   January 24, 2007 at 11:55AM
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I would definitely check with a doctor to make sure there isn't a medical reason for the weight gain. If she is active and not eating that much, she could have a thyroid problem.

Also, if you don't keep junk food in the house, she won't eat it. Good suggestion about the juice and sodas. I limited my kids to soda only on the weekend, and one per day. Otherwise it was milk with meals, and juice at breakfast. If she likes the bubbles, you could give her sparkling water-you get the fizziness of soda with no calories. We buy San Pelligrino by the case, and it even has a little calcium in it.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2007 at 12:05PM
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Are you sure that hypothyroidism or other medical things don't run in your family? It can also suddenly occur, even if there's no history of it.. I'm 14 years old, and nobody in my family has had a history of it, yet I have it.

If she does have it, she'll need a blood test so they can first diagnose it, then she'll be on hormone replacement therapy from there, and things'll turn upright.

I can't recommend much else besides what the others said. Although, try making sure that she eats 6 small meals a day, preferrably evenly spaced.. It's healthier than 3 square meals a day, and try to limit snacking, and unhealthy drinks. If she insists on having a snack, try something healthy like fruits or vegetables.

And yes, I know, this is a parent forum.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2007 at 6:13PM
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I'd check into Weight Watchers -- not for her, but for you. There's SOOOO much good information in that program about good health, nutrition, exercise, and healthy eating habits. You'd pick up tips that will benefit the entire family. Some of the ones that work for me:

- Read the nutrition information on the backs of the packages. Look for more fiber and less fat. You'd be surprised which convenience foods are horrible for you and which are not so bad. Try to get the ones you like in portion-controled servings, OR portion them out yourself into little baggies and store them that way.

- Never bring the whole bag of chips with you to the TV. Put one serving into a little bowl and bring that bowl instead. Mindless munching is SO easy to do, and really, it's not terribly rewarding. Try low-fat microwave popcorn for 'munchy' food.

- If you have a "clean your plate" mentality, work on ending it now. It breaks down the body's own natural hunger and fullness signals. Also, make it a point to change your mindset from "comfortably full" to "bloated" or "unpleasantly overfull". Train your mind to interpret a "very slight hunger" as "feeling svelte".

- Drink lots of water. Often, we misinterpret thirst as hunger. If water tastes too boring, try making lemonade, then gradually working your way into water with lemon, then onto plain water.

- Have a small healthy high-fiber snack an hour or so before dinner. Then serve a smaller dinner portion.

- Try to evaluate your food decisions like you evaluate other purchase decisions. But instead of asking "Is it worth the money?" ask yourself "Is it worth the calories?" I recently received a tin of chocolate chip cookies as a gift. The cookies were good, but loaded in fat. I decided they weren't THAT good and tossed them.

- On the other hand, some foods to me ARE that good, and I don't deny myself small servings of those.

I'd especially agree with the poster who mentioned not singling anyone out, and focusing on healthy habits instead of weight. Body images get so twisted, even for very young girls...

    Bookmark   January 25, 2007 at 9:38AM
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I don't let my kids drink soda except occassions like a birthday party or a holiday. I just don't keep it in the house. Empty calories. The kids I know who are overweight are allowed to drink soda like water, 3 cans a day or more.

I keep bowls of apples, grapes, bananas, clemetine oranges on the counter. When they are hungry, they grap the first thing they find, and that's what they find. I also love the bagged, prepared carrots in the grocery that are labeled "matchstick." They are the size of, well, a matchstick. My kids will eat those when they wont' eat baby carrots raw. But the size of those makes them fun and easy.

I also agree that you should talk to a doctor and be insistent. If you really feel her food intake and excercise level is normal and healthy, there might be a medical explanation that needs to be diagnosed sooner than later. The weight could be a symptom of something that needs to be treated, not just the problem in itself.

My neice is too heavy for her age. She's 8. When I observe her and her parents, it seems they tell her what a good eater she is. And she is the model of what one would call a "good eater." She cleans her plate, eats anything in front of her, never picky. But I believe she doesn't think she's good at anything else. In her mind, she's been told she's good at eating, so that's what she'll do to please her parents and others. She's just doing what she's good at, what kid doesn't like to do what they're good at? I want to tell my brother that what I see, and tell him to help her find something else she is good at to change this mindset before it's too late. But I know they are very touchy about the subject and will not hear it.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2007 at 1:00PM
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Update and also thanks to everyone for your input. My daughter weighs 103# and she is 4'-4 1/2" tall. We will be visiting the doctor very soon. I have been monitoring things more closely and I think she eats too much. We don't do pop or soda, one a month maybe, I'm not kidding. My wife drinks it like water but she keeps it hidden in her car(and yes we count it). We don't have chips in the house. Snacks are goldfish, popcorn and pretzels. One of my sons is overweight as well so we are going to try to make this a family thing... it will be hard to make it consistant. I'm looking 5 years down the road, I'm not looking for anything quick fix. It took me 3years to loose 35 lbs and wouldn't have done it any other way....... She swam on swim team this summer and didn't loose a pound (didn't gain any either so that good), but now seems to be putting on some more weight.....

    Bookmark   January 25, 2007 at 1:16PM
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my daughter is 10 - and too is putting on the weight - we have water bottles available in the fridge - the kids ones they like - water for school lunch instead of the juice boxes - i pack those pre-packaged apples/grapes for lunch, try to stay away from alot of crackers, so perhaps she's eating too much goldfish, crackers, pretzels? those can add on too - i just watch what she eats, and if i know she's had enough I'll make a "do we really need that" to her and then she's more aware of what she's putting in her mouth - her starting Jr., High this year I'm worried having the excess weight with the kid's comments - but we have put her in dance, and almost every afternoon she's dancing, i have her walking all 3 dogs, separately, and she's lost 2 pounds since Jan., 1st - so if you take it slow it will come off - plus we eat dinner earlier now - and we buy juice pops now for that sweet craving, instead of ice cream.. and yes.. we have tons of fresh fruit, yogurt, granola, etc., good luck -

    Bookmark   January 25, 2007 at 1:35PM
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I agree with keeping a close eye on the comments you make about food.

As someone pointed out, should we reward children for eating all the food on a plate ?

Also, if you veiw food as exactly what it is....fuel..for your body, and nothing else, with no emotional attachement to it, then I think that is a positive thing.

A lot of advertising about food is playing on your emotions. Like "you deserve it", have you noticed that ?

I don't like that thinking. Its just food, that you eat to stay healthy. You eat fruit and drink water, and have fibre so you intestines will work properly. You drink milk for the calcium, that means your bones will be strong.

Making comments like that to children might encourage them to eat good, healthy food.

About treats...I think its okay to eat chocolate from time to time, and I make sure its good quality, and I only eat a small bar of it. I love it, enjoy it, and it is not going to be bad for me, because I only eat it once in a while.

Perseverance is the key, after a while you find that you just don't want to eat the crap that you used to eat before, you loose your taste for it. No sugar cravings.


    Bookmark   January 26, 2007 at 1:49AM
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Your snacks aren't that great, really. Goldfish are high in fat and salt. Popcorn is only ok if eaten with nothing or a butter flavored sprinkle stuff which isn't all that great. Pretzels are in high salt, too.

Keep a container of cut up fruit in the frig, oranges, apples, pears, grapes, pineapple, melons in season. The acid in the citrus will keep the apples from browning for several days. Also keep a container of baby carrots, celery sticks, red bell pepper sticks, cuke slices, snap peas, jicama, etc. sliced and ready to eat. Having these foods easy to grab and munch encourages healthier snacking. I also keep a container of prewashed baby salad greens in the frig. Lowfat, low sugar yogurts are good too. I keep the new Wishbone salad spritzers on hand. Very low cal, decent flavor. The good of a salad is easily undone with a rich fatty dressing.

I have a 14 year old who grabs her own salad fixings. Even my 16 year old son will happily eat a salad. Add a few raisins, candied nuts (a few!) or croutons (I make our own) and usually they fill up on good stuff. I also keep tuna packed in water and hard boiled eggs for a high protein, low cal quick meal. Also stocked is turkey and/or chicken lunch meat for sandwiches. One serving is only 60 calories.

Switch from whole milk to 2%. Mix them together for a while until your tastes adjust if you need to. Watch portion size, too. Try splitting in half your usual serving sizes. Eat the half. You and your kids might find that the half is really plenty and you are simply continuing to eat because it's there on the plate. Plate food in the kitchen rather than serving family style bowls.

Switch from ice cream to sorbet. Treats are fine. It's better not to deprive yourself or kids, just eat them in small portions, very small!

My daughter was a competitive gymnast from age 8-11. She could eat anything and never gain an ounce. When she quit (injured) she kept eating the same way. I talked to her about making better choices now that she wasn't getting the same amount of exercise. She did plump up but eventually slowed down her eating and when she hit a growth spurt she trimmed down.

More exercise is a must. Dance class is a great place for many girls. Look for something fun like hip-hop or jazz or whatever is currently popular. Lots of girls love cheerleading. There is probably a team she can join that isn't a school thing. Anything that gets her moving will be good.

I grew up with grandparents who didn't even think about regular exercise as a must. I had a weight problem from an early age. I have lost and gained hundreds over the years. When I had kids I was determined to spare them the agony of a weight problem. I popped them into gymnastics classes as soon as I could. Age 3 for my son, age 18 months for my daughter. It was a great foundation for anything else they have ever wanted to do. Girls have few opportunities to build upper body strength, gymnastics is a great way to do this. Even if kids don't compete, they become strong and flexible and have good understanding of what their bodies can do. Trampoline and tumbling classes are great if kids don't want to do beam and bars which are difficult and scary. Everyone can tumble!

    Bookmark   January 26, 2007 at 6:36PM
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I agree with those who say it needs to be a family wide project with the focus being the family getting healthy and not your dauther losing weight. I believe any of the typical snack foods should be avoided. anything that you grab out of a bag (except carrots lol) or have to microwave should be avoided. There shouldn't be any eating after 7PM (again, the whole family). The advantage to this is that you tend to be hungry in the morning and so you don't skip breakfast. In our family we drink primarily water, very little juice and an occasional milk. Since we did this from the start all my kids love water and choose it themselves. Fruit and veggies are the best snacks. Limit flour based foods period and what you do eat should be whole grain. I don't buy crackers at all since they encourage snacking...especially in my husband. Use a grocery list to get what you need for at least a week. Avoid popping in at the grocery store the rest of the time. If you find it hard to avoid bringing home junk then satisfy your craving before you go in the store. Better a chocolate bar or french fries once before you enter than a tonne of junk to last the week. My kids aren't over weight but dh and I were and I didn't feel one bit bad cleaning up our cupboards to help dh and I. I just kept telling myself that my kids were benefiting too, even if they were already thin.

Oh...also avoid using food with the kids to make things better. I've fought the instinct to serve up something tasty when they come home from school upset about something. I think twice and then tell them to come sit on the couch with me and tell me everything. I give lots of sympathy and no food. I hope I'm teaching them to talk things out rather than use food to make themselves feel better.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2007 at 8:31AM
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Good on you Jeif, you raise some good points.

Not using food as a reward.

I have been buying those rice cracker things, they are like a flat disk (for want of a better description !), they come in all sorts of flavours, with extra seeds, like poppyseeds, and sesame seeds. They are really good for afternoon tea, after school. I put a bit of cheeese on them, some nice tomato, bit of pepper, its nice. Thats what I gave my son today, with a nice fresh nectarine, and a glass of ice water. He was happy with that.

Stay tuned for tomorrows after school snack...


    Bookmark   January 31, 2007 at 2:36AM
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From the original post I learn that 1)you do not believe your daughter will EVER be thin, 2)she is physically active, 3)you monitor what she eats.

O.K. Either she has a medical problem that is causing weight gain in spite of activity and careful diet...OR...she is sneaking around and eating things you don't know about. That could be in response to your attitude toward her or peer pressure (yeah...already in first grade) or some other emotional stress. In any case, I think you need professional help with this. First, have her thoroughly examined by your medical doctor. Rule out any physical problems that would cause weight gain. PLEASE don't overlook real health problems as "just the way she is" or "bad eating habits". Establish that she actually IS overweight and not that she just doesn't look like the anorexics on your TV. THEN, if she IS overweight and there are no physical problems, you need to figure out what is going on. If it takes counseling for her or you or both...if it takes someone else talking with her to find out if she is bingeing...whatever. At 7 she is awfully young to be emotionally messed up in relation to weight. This will be a very heavy burden for her to carry her whole life unless it gets straightened out. She's just a little girl; it isn't fair to her.

Whether this is physical or emotional, I wish you - and more importantly HER - a lot of luck and success in dealing with the situation. And I commend you for your concern for your daughter.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2007 at 8:38PM
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I agree with much of the above. I want to propose something that does not include monitoring and is really not difficult or painful. Keep in your home only snack foods that can be eaten freely without monitoring.

Fluids: Water, natural juices, and milk (skim-they will get used to it and if over 5yrs, there is no problem).

Snacks: fruits and vegetables. Get rid of simple sugars. Why do you need pretzles or goldfish?

I agree make exercise a joy. Do it yourself.

Eat togther. As a family, make healthy choices.

Good luck, Adele

    Bookmark   February 4, 2007 at 12:58AM
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I agree with much of the above. I want to propose something that does not include monitoring and is really not difficult or painful. Keep in your home only snack foods that can be eaten freely without monitoring.

Fluids: Water, natural juices, and milk (skim-they will get used to it and if over 5yrs, there is no problem).

Snacks: fruits and vegetables. Get rid of simple sugars. Why do you need pretzles or goldfish?

I agree make exercise a joy. Do it yourself.

Eat togther. As a family, make healthy choices.

Good luck, Adele

    Bookmark   February 4, 2007 at 1:01AM
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It could also be that the OP's dtr. will eventually grow into her weight. As long as you don't keep junk food in the house and make certain she is not being a couch potato, it could all resolve itself. Above all else, don't make an issue of the weight.

I know both my kids with through periods of being on the verge of being fat (even when they were participating in sports), then suddenly they would grow into their weight.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2007 at 8:50AM
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