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Old 05-19-2010, 02:35 PM   #1
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I've just had an upsetting episode with my daughter (7) and it's really made me feel anxious.
I have been overweight since before having her, so she's never known me as slim as I am now and thinks it's wonderful.
She has seen the changes our whole family have made to eat healthier and take more exercise, and I really thought she had it made. She's very active naturally, and is at a perfect weight for her age and always has been, partly due to the fact that even when I was at my heaviest I made sure to keep her eating as healthy as possible because I don't ever want her to have to deal with the things I have.
One potential problem I was already aware of was my mom. She criticised me terribly for my weight for so long, was initially complimentary on my weight loss, but is now making comments that I'm going too far (I'm still obese!). Anyway, my daughter goes to stay at her house for the night most Friday's and she loves her grandma and grandad to bits. BUT, my mom bakes before she goes and she eats crap the whole time she is there. She eats constantly the whole time she is there I think, they just keep offering her more things.
It does make me uncomfortable and I've talked to my daughter about it on several occasions and discussed why we don't have cakes and candy in the house to eat all the time. But I also know my grandma was the same when I visited, and I think lots are, spoiling the grandkids etc.
For supper each night my daughter has a small glass of skimmed milk and a biscuit. Most of the time she is allowed to go choose her own biscuit, I don't buy lots, and definitely not chocolate ones. Anyway, tonight she went into the kitchen to get her biscuit and I thought she was taking a long time, so when she came into the lounge I asked her if she'd just got the one biscuit or had she had more. She told me in a very upset voice that she'd had a broken piece of biscuit as well.
My initial reaction was to get angry, but I'm glad I buried that down and sat down to talk with her calmly and explain why we eat like we do in our house, that I don't ever want to go back to the way I was and why, and that I love her very much and don't ever want her to have to be like I was.
I explained I enjoy things like candy etc far more nowadays because I only have them occasionally and in small amounts and she said she understood that. She has been so happy for me during this journey and calls me mini mummy now, so I really thought she didn't have any issues at all. But when I asked if she'd done this before she said yes, and when asked if she did it lots she said yes again.... She said she didn't know why she did it though....
I've told her she mustn't do this again, that she gets lots of nice food to eat and that we need to be able to trust her.
The thing is it's totally freaked me out. I know that she is a very healthy girl, she actually chooses fruit and veg over other things lots of the time, and will stop eating when she's had enough to eat. From a chocoholic, to hear your daughter saying that a dessert in a restaurant is "too chocolatey" and she can't eat more than a couple of spoonfuls is still alien to me lol
But it's just the secret eating that's freaked me out completely. No-one knows or will ever know how much I used to binge secretly day in day out, and I'm terrified I've just seen a sign of things in years to come with my daughter.
Am I freaking out for no reason? Is she a healthy normal kid just pushing the boundaries? I've really no idea, she's an only child and I was an only child, and I don't know what normal is, I only know what my childhood was like, and my life before I began this journey.
Any advice anyone can give I'd so appreciate, any ideas of whether I need to say or do anything else with my daughter, or should I just leave it at that?
For now I just need to get through this evening, sneaking a peak at my old binge habits has really thrown me and since putting my daughter to bed I've already eaten a banana which I didn't even really need... Just need to thank god that it was a banana and it stops there.

Last edited by Loving Me : 05-19-2010 at 03:24 PM.
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Old 05-19-2010, 03:01 PM   #2
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My initial reaction is that you seem to project a lot on to your 7 yr old kid and make food a THING.

Kids this young just see food as fuel. It's isn't a THING until they learn it is. If this kind of stuff comes up, take a breath, and ask yourself "What do I want to teach right now?"

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I don't ever want to go back to the way I was and why, and that I love her very much and don't ever want her to have to be like I was.
Why are you telling her this stuff? What does this really teach? That you disliked your former state and you love her now at her current state. And you don't want her to be like your former state... and the unspoken "I won't love you if you get like I used to be?"

Is that really what you mean? If not, why burden this child? Why is a simple "I love you!" not enough?

Mine is 6, and I'm also losing weight but I don't get this deep with her. I figure at this age it is better to just offer a wide healthy assortment of foods and keep it simple.

Soda, cakes, candies are for parties and holiday gatherings. They are not for every day. Party food is fun for when we are at parties.

We need growing foods like veggies, fruit, starch and protein. We have these every day.

When she tells me she wants a snack, I point her to the fridge or cabinet and tell her to get one and then show it to me. I keep an assortment of things in her snack box (dry nuts, popcorn, raisins, etc) or fridge area (cheese sticks, yogurt, grapes, etc)

She gets it, and shows it to me and I praise her if she portioned it well, and I send her to put some back if she got too much and praise her for doing that.

I'm trying to encourage independence and the physical skills it takes to serve out a snack bowl of grapes or whatever. I remind her if she's still hungry she can always get more later but not to overfill her cup or bowl because then things can spill.

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I've told her she mustn't do this again, that she gets lots of nice food to eat and that we need to be able to trust her, but if we can't then we will have to get her biscuit for her or she will have to have something else.
I wouldn't have said it this way to a 7 year old.

To me you are saying she's being bad in not portioning it out, there's "nice" food and "bad" food, you don't trust her to portion it out, and that if you have to get the biscuit is "punishment" or she's "demoted" somehow. But there's no offer of aid here.

You assume she's got the same biscuit problem or sneaking food problem you did. What if the problem is simply not knowing how to portion out biscuits properly? Who will she learn from if not you?

I would have said "Hey, good try at serving yourself. Biscuits seem tricky right now -- let me help. A portion of biscuit is... You try." And just praised the effort.

Again -- where's your focus? What are you trying to teach?

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Any advice anyone can give I'd so appreciate, any ideas of whether I need to say or do anything else with my daughter, or should I just leave it at that?
I'd try to relax more. In the end, you are the one buying the food. It isn't like she CAN eat junk unless it is you bringing it into the house. You don't need to micro-explain everything like this:

Quote:
I explained I enjoy things like candy etc far more nowadays because I only have them occasionally and in small amounts and she said she understood that.
I'm not sure a 7 year old can really understand all that or if they just say they do to please you.

Just eat the small bit you eat and that's that. They see you eat the small bit and enjoy it, and that's that. You have taught that a small bit is enjoyable. No extra baggage attached.

If you want to teach her cooking skills, measuring things out skills -- yay. But don't forget she's a little kid.

I would stop talking to daughter about your weight loss efforts, your body image feelings, etc. Save that talk for another adult friend, these boards, or wait til she's an adult.

Just live life as usual, model the healthy behaviour, but don't draw attention to it.

GL!
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Old 05-19-2010, 03:16 PM   #3
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It's important that you don't make a huge problem out of a childish behavior. Even though you are now on the path of being healthy you can still harm your child's developing self image by making being "healthy" too much of a focus.

Can you just live the new life you have made for yourself and your family and not make announcements about it nor even draw attention to it? Make it a matter of fact, live it like it has always been a part of your life and do not make it the focal point for your family. If you make a big deal about it, any of it, (eating healthy, what NOT to eat at grandma's, not sneaking an extra cookie) it will lodge in your daughter's brain as something she is responsible for or has caused.

Children think that if there is an issue it must be them or their fault, they are designed to believe that adults are perfect Godlike beings. "If my mom is perfect and there is a problem, it must be me". is the unconscious dialog that goes on in a child's developing brain.

It doesn't sound like your daughter did anything wrong! Nor should you worry what she eats at Grandma's. Grandparents always spoil their grandchildren. If it truly becomes a health issue, then deal with it but I wouldn't ostracize your mother over spoiling your child.

A 7 year old's sophistication can be deceptive. 7 year olds look like mini-adults. Just because she can talk in sentences, can recite to you right from wrong, can probably read, tie her own shoes and wipe her bottom... developmentally she can't think in abstract ways. 7 year olds are very concrete in thier thinking. It is tempting to overshare with a child that age as they seem to "get it" but really the concepts that you are struggling with are beyond her ability to comprehend. Even is she can nod her head and tell you she understands. All that a child is likely to take from a heavy discussion is that they have caused a problem and that they are bad.

Its great to be open and honest with your children but leave the big heavy topics like family dynamics, binge eating, honesty to the adults. It is hard to be a former overweight person trying to prevent your child from having the same issues as you did, I understand. It sounds like you've done a great job in changing your life. You have a lot to be proud of!
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Old 05-19-2010, 03:36 PM   #4
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Ok, my first reaction to this was STOP. The fact that she is doing this and hiding it from you is a sign that she knows you will disapprove and that will cause her to develop the same type of relationship with food that you had. If that's not a recipe for a binge-eater, I don't know what is! I really am not trying to be harsh, but come on...she's a little kid. Of course it's good to encourage our kids to be healthy and show them how to make good choices, but why would you cause your own child to feel like she is being excessive or greedy or doing something shameful by eating a little more than YOU think she should? Is it the end of the world for her to have a biscuit and a part of another?

You said that your own mom was very critical of your weight and openly so. And that you don't want your daughter to develop the same issues with food. You will NOT help her avoid food issues by scolding her, shaming her, restricting her or preaching to her. You think she is just going to magically stop "overeating" (which she probably isn't even doing)? No, she's going to KEEP eating in secret, her quantities will increase, she will gain weight, she will feel worse, you will get frustrated...endless cycle.

Sorry. This just kind of bothered me.
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Old 05-19-2010, 03:42 PM   #5
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Ok, thanks for the advice, looks like I'm stuffing up royally with this, which I feared I might be.
I just want to protect my daughter so much from all the crap I've had to deal with in my life, and seems I'm going about it totally wrong.
I guess I need to lighten up a LOT and let her find her own way with food, it's just so hard.
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Old 05-19-2010, 03:46 PM   #6
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I have a 7-year-old daughter with similar issues. Sugar addiction is a real thing, and it's dangerous; so it's natural to want to protect your daughter from that.

I don't really have any specific advice, since I haven't worked out the best solution for my family yet, but you might try eliminating the sugar completely from your household. Keep sugary treats only to the rare special occasion and so on. That way, there's nothing for her to sneak, and no temptation to lie about it. In our case, one of the problems is that our daughter is pretty adept at getting sugary items from her friends at school or in the neighborhood; we don't have a real solution for that yet.

I also think it is very important to keep an open dialogue about issues of addiction within a family. I have spoken to all of my kids at various times about our family's generational struggle with alcoholism and sugar addiction, and I will continue to do so in hopes that they will avoid the problems which many of their adult relatives have experienced.
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Old 05-19-2010, 03:47 PM   #7
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My reaction was roughly the same as ThicknPretty's.

The reason your daughter is hiding food consumption for you is that she thinks you will be mad at her for eating an extra half a cookie. Which I don't know is far off, based on what you said in your post. Your attitude toward food puts moral/value judgements on those foods...some foods are "good", some foods are "bad", etc, and eating more than a small amount of a "bad" food is VERY BAD and UNACCEPTABLE. The inevitable result of this is closet eating...everyone has a treat sometimes, and making those treats forbidden makes them even more desirable for your daughter, but she knows she can't have them in front of you without your disapproval, so she hides it.

Your daughter has shown you that she, for the most part, eats enough to grow appropriately without becoming overweight, so I think you need to worry less about ensuring she doesn't eat "bad foods" and more that she develops a healthy relationship with food as she grows.

For example, you might say, "For dessert, go get one biscuit and your glass of milk. If you want another after you've finished the first, that's fine, but let's try one at first'. That teaches portion control (one biscuit is the amount to grab at one time) without making more forbidden or something one has to hide, so doesn't encourage the underground eating behavior. Talk to your daughter about nutrition and how some foods are healthier than others, but remove the idea that foods are "bad" or "unhealthy" or "fattening" from your vocabulary. It's all just food - and different choices are best in different situations.
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Old 05-19-2010, 04:00 PM   #8
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I just want to protect my daughter so much from all the crap I've had to deal with in my life, and seems I'm going about it totally wrong.
I guess I need to lighten up a LOT and let her find her own way with food, it's just so hard.

Again... relax. There is no food in your house that you did not buy. Just keep buying the healthy foods, maintain the healthy meal time habits, and say nothing about your own personal body project.

If you need to talk about it, talk here with the other adults/parents.

GL!
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Old 05-19-2010, 04:14 PM   #9
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LM, I just want you to know that I struggle with this issue too, and it is a lot more complicated than meets the eye.

I was raised in a home that was VERY restrictive. My mom gave us skim milk and no sugary cereal, and lots of veggies and very lean meats long before that was popular. But, she also really controlled my eating way more than was healthy. I started binge-eating and binge-ate for the next 25 or so years.

So, I thought I had the whole thing figured out. I would NEVER comment on my daughter's bodies. I would let them eat what they wanted. I would allow junk into the house, take them out for ice cream sometimes, let them choose their own snacks.... I mean, within reason, because I've always cooked a basically healthy diet.

And you know, I thought it was working-- except that one of my daughters developed a minor weight problem, and has shown secret eating type behaviors, and even though I have been unbelievably careful not to criticize their eating habits, or restrict their eating, or comment on their bodies, she still calls me THE FOOD POLICE.

And now, a few times, she has told me she wants to lose weight and I just don't know how to handle it. On the one hand I want to jump in and tell her to stop eating this and that and start tracking her calories on fitday, and then I think OH MY GOD! I wish I had NEVER started down that path when I was her age, and that's the last thing I want for her. I still believe that as long as she has a healthy self-esteem, is active and is fed healthy food at home, the issue will sort itself out without Draconian intervention.

Unfortunately, these issues really do pass from mother to daughter in a very toxic way....maybe my daughter got into secret eating because she saw me do it, and maybe she started doing it because in spite of all my efforts I was still projecting a weird vibe.

The only thing, oddly enough, that helped a little, were that she was visiting grandma and read a whole bunch of my diaires-- and all I talked about for years was WEIGHT WEIGHT WEIGHT and how much I hated myself-- and though I was kind of mortified, I think it did help to open up a dialogue between us-- and now I can say that no matter what the most important thing is that she feel good about herself the way she is.
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Old 05-19-2010, 04:22 PM   #10
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One way I like to look at it, is that my son (maybe this is harder if you have a daughter) is a completely different person - a fresh blank slate, so to speak. Unless any sort of issues arise in the future (whether that be eating or whatever), it is safer to assume that there is no issue. Although you have struggled with eating issues in your life, there is no reason to project this onto your child or to assume that she will go down the same path.

I'm sure plenty of us here are the children of alcoholics but can enjoy a lovely drink once in a while. While a genetic/environmental risk of alcoholism (and obesity!) has been shown to exist, it is more fair to assume that we are NOT that statistic, rather than otherwise.
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Old 05-19-2010, 04:31 PM   #11
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I'm sure plenty of us here are the children of alcoholics but can enjoy a lovely drink once in a while. While a genetic/environmental risk of alcoholism (and obesity!) has been shown to exist, it is more fair to assume that we are NOT that statistic, rather than otherwise.
Eh, I really don't agree with that. When there is a genetic tendency toward a particular health problem within a family, I believe it is the responsibility of the adult generation to educate the child generation. Would we withhold information about a familial tendency toward heart disease or particular cancers? Of course not; we'd want to arm the child with the knowledge necessary to make the best choices under the circumstances. (Whether the child does make the better choices upon attaining adulthood is of course their own responsibility, but it's our responsibility to prepare them.) When we withhold information about alcoholism or sugar addiction, we risk leaving the child without sufficient information to avoid becoming addicted themselves. Just "not talking about it" is not enough when the danger is genetic.
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Old 05-19-2010, 04:32 PM   #12
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Thanks so much for your honest response Uber, I really appreciate it.
I grew up with very low self-esteem (was never told I was loved, was clever, pretty, never praised, never hugged or played with by my mum), although I didn't have any issues with food until my teens. As a child my grandma and aunt spoiled me rotten when I visited them with candy and cakes etc, and it seems now that I equated that to love, so as a teen when I was often alone because my parents had divorced and my mum had to work long hours, I started eating for comfort, and it went from there...
I know my issues with food and weight are due to my extremely low self-esteem in the past so I figured as long as my daughter grows up knowing how much she is loved and valued she could maybe escape the same trap. It seems obvious now though that it's a lot more complicated than that and I really haven't got a clue.
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Old 05-19-2010, 04:52 PM   #13
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Just treat food for what it is - fuel. My kids eats when they are hungry, and eat foods that make them grow tall and strong. We have dessert occasionally, and cookies for snacks if I have baked them, but to them these foods are no more or less off limits than anything else. They just aren't what we eat if we want to grow into fast runners, or big lifters (my children are very young, I have to frame things simply).

Food is what God has given us to help our bodies grow, no more or less. We eat when we are hungry and stop when we are full, we eat a good variety of things, sweets included. The only way I know to NOT create bad/obsessive food behaviors is to NOT make it a bad or obsessive situation. Its just food, they're just kids, and the more I try to regulate or protect them from MY mistakes, the more I am projecting those same destructive behaviors on them.

I am the mom, I make all their food. I give them a good variety at every meal, and they have learned that is how we eat, until we are not hungry anymore. Food isn't an issue, it isn't a fight... The best I can do is hope that it stays that way and deal with any issues as they come. But by virtue of what I feed them every day, and what they get on occasion, I think I am modeling the behaviors I want them to replicate. Some foods more, some foods less, it's all fuel to make our bodies move!
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Old 05-19-2010, 04:53 PM   #14
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I agree, i would definitely NOT have told my daughter (if I had one) many of those things. if she'd come out saying she had an extra part of a bisquit, i might have said, "yeah, sounds like you were extra hungry tonight. maybe you should have had a bit more dinner (joking smile)". but definitely, get rid of the 'good' and 'bad' food idea......yes, there are foods that are for meals ( fruits, veggies, lean meats, ect...), snacks (popcorn and raisins, etc) and desserts (candy) but that's just because they're for a particular meal. it's a self limiting philosophy that keeps food from being an ethical thing.

it sounds like perhaps it might promote healthy ideas for her if you two have special treats after dinner. like a hershey's kiss under a homemade tent and read stories and stuff......make yourself involved in her 'treat/secret' eating.
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Old 05-19-2010, 04:56 PM   #15
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I know my issues with food and weight are due to my extremely low self-esteem in the past so I figured as long as my daughter grows up knowing how much she is loved and valued she could maybe escape the same trap. It seems obvious now though that it's a lot more complicated than that and I really haven't got a clue.
Man, I hate to be the dissenting one ALL THE TIME, but, I have to say...

I have amazing self-esteem and always have. It did not stop me from being addicted to sugar. While it's all over the popular culture and media to attribute our problems with food to some problem within ourselves, I believe that is (for the most part) untrue. We have problems with food not because we're broken in some way, but because our food system is broken, and it breaks us. We are physiologically and emotionally fine, but the food we eat is not.

Again, I know it's not popular around here to declare foods "bad" or "good" and I won't do that. Because I actually think some "foods" that we regularly consume are not food at all, they are poison.

It's not as hard for adults to wake up to what is poisoning us and decide that we just won't eat it anymore, while it's very difficult for kids to do so. They often do not feel any changes in their bodies or minds from eating particular things, because their bodies are extremely resilient...they are simply young and naturally healthy. But we are older, less resilient, less naturally healthy...and we can feel what the poison does.

As before, I'm not saying that I have the solution, but I don't think that the answer is that your daughter (or any of our daughters) are broken. They do live in a broken food culture, however--and it will try to break them.
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