I just found out that my little sister, who is 11 years old gained around 40 lbs since last summer and she now weighs 180 lbs. I'm very concerned because that was what I weighed in high school and she's only in 5th grade. She's around 5' tall and definitely has food issues.
She hates vegetables and even fruit. For the longest time all she would eat was chicken and french fries and very little else. She's very picky... she doesn't even really like cereal, which most kids do. Now she found that she likes perogies but she over does it with sour cream and she likes bologna sandwiches but again, over does it with mayo.
She's also very hard to motivate when it comes to exercise. She spends most of her time on the computer, rather than playing outside—which I kind of don't blame her because there are NO kids in the neighborhood. I lived there for a few months over the summer and I was on a big exercise kick and my main thing was dancing. I thought I could get her into it since dancing is fun, but she's would stop after a minute saying she was tired.
My mom doesn't know what to do because she's very argumentative and has behavioral problems and it's always a struggled to get her to eat the right things. They stopped buying ice cream and ketchup months ago but she's still gaining weight. My mom says she hides food and sneaks extra portions when no one is watching.
I'm really worried about her. A big part of why I want to lose weight is to be a better role model for her. I know she looks up to me and I'm hoping that as I lose weight she will take an interest in what I'm doing. Unfortunately I live almost 3 hours away and I can't be there day to day to help her, but I want to come up with some ideas to help my parents.
If anyone has any advice I would really appreciate it. :?:
01-30-2011, 06:11 PM
First of all, keep up your own good work--even if you don't live close, she'll still try to imitate you.
Secondly, get creative on forms of exercise--dance may be what did it for you, but it might not be her thing. Even a Wii game that gets her up and moving is better than sitting on the couch. Since you live so far away, you might want to set up "dates" when you get to see her. Take her rollerblading or ice skating or hiking (if there's any good hiking in your area). Mostly, don't tell her these things are exercise--tell her you want to spend time with her. At 11, that's probably what she needs to hear most. My 11-year-old brother is not inactive, but he struggles with interacting with others (he has ausbergers) so when I'm home from college I take him on walks with me or we go biking together. We pick up cool leaves, do short "races" and then slow it back to normal, try to figure out if a bird we see is a female or a male and what kind it is, that kind of thing. The kid comes home with a smile like I'd just taken him out for ice cream or something, except we didn't spend any money or calories--just time and attention.
Your mom may want to check with her pediatrician for tips on helping her deal with the food end of things. Sneaking off with food is often indicative of using food to deal with emotional issues (not necessarily in her case, but it could be a reason).
Remember that at 11, a long lecture on eating right and exercising won't work. At all. Setting an excellent example and encouraging her to keep trying new things and to live an active life, however, may help.
01-31-2011, 10:55 AM
Thank you so much for the great advice. I totally agree that you can't call it exercise because kids lose interest. I really love the idea of planning dates with her to do activities. I'm going to be visiting in a few weeks and I'm looking forward to spending time with her.
It's still kind of cold for outdoors stuff, but I'm thinking I may bring an Xbox 360 that I have so we can hook it up in my parents living room to play her Kinect. They got her Kinect over Christmas with a dancing game, but she doesn't have enough room to play it in her room and she plays other games often enough that it didn't seem worth it to unhook everything and move it.
But when the weather is a little better there are TONS of things I could do with her. She lives in the poconos so there's lots of hiking trails and parks to explore. I'm excited now! Thanks so much!
And yeah, I'm pretty sure eating is emotional for her. (It sure is for me!) She's technically my cousin, but my parents took her in because her real parents are not fit parents. She's going through a lot of stuff with her real dad right now and I think it's making things worse. Another friend of mine suggested that she go to a psychiatrist and therapist and get checked out for binge eating disorder... I think that's a good idea too.
01-31-2011, 12:27 PM
You could try taking her on a hiking trail. I love going down the trails. For her diet maybe you can suggest to your mom to prepare your sister food with some secret added vegetables. Like if you mom makes meatloaf add some v8 vegetable juice in it. If you chop up vegetables and fruit finely she wont see or even taste them or even if you juice them. If she has behavioral problems then that's a whole another thing.
Kim in NJ
02-03-2011, 03:24 AM
Just a quick response before heading to bed... I will pray for your sister ... but I have two daughters who LOVE to watch TV and play on the computer. They do take dance a few times a week but would rather relax than anything else..(they learned that from me unfortunately). But for the past week they have been faithfully playing Just Dance 2 for Wii and literally they are dancing probably over 90 minutes a day with all sort of crazy moves. Even my 6 yr old is jumping in. They have no idea how great of an exercise routine they are getting - they are just trying to increase their scores. I hope the XBOX also works for your younger sister. It's gotta be fun for the kids to stick with it. Outdoor Challenge on Wii is another favorite in our house. - good luck! :)
02-03-2011, 04:08 AM
I'm not gonna lie, your sister sounds EXACTLY like me.
When I was younger I would live off of chicken nuggets and fries and soda.
By the time I was in the fifth grade I weighed like 150lbs and I was short, like 5 foot, so I would have to buy like size 10 capris.
I also met my best friend in 5th grade, and shes fat to, still is, I see her like every other day, you think that hanging out with someone else who is fat will make you more motivated to getting fit together, but you just get comfortable around the person and you're all forget it, wanna go to the buffet?
I weigh 202 now and am 5'10'' but in high school I was obese, I met my bf when I was 16 and was my heaviest which was 235, but I started losing weight because we would spend all our time together and I didnt like eating next to him, oh and he introduced me to videogames and I can't eat if I have a controller in my hand and I don't think about food when I'm playing games. Lowest weight I have weighed since I was 18 is 189.
02-03-2011, 04:09 AM
OH AND I lost weight cause I started playing Dance Dance Revolution, I became addicted to that game for a while, it's so fun.
02-04-2011, 11:49 AM
Thanks so much guys for the advice. I think video games are probably a good way to go and it seems like there's always new dance or fitness games out lately... I wish that stuff was around when I was a kid! I probably would have never gotten fat in the first place. Lol
02-04-2011, 11:56 AM
Would have to agree 100% that she needs a mental health professional. I'm sure she's dealing with all sorts of emotions because her life is so out of control (I can't imagine how rejected she must feel after her parents being unfit) - at 11 years old with no source of money, transportation, etc. food is truly the only thing she can control. A source of comfort perhaps.
As much as you can introduce fun healthy exercise or food varieties, the root of the problem needs to be addressed, just like any alcoholic or drug addict, or else it will never be fixed.
Hugs to her, she is so young.
02-04-2011, 12:50 PM
Runic I know the perfect solution along with the video game (good advice) private message me
02-04-2011, 01:01 PM
My daughter is only five and she's a little overweight. I don't know if it's the meds she's on or because she can't run or just that we eat junk (and therefore she eats junk) more often than I think but I've read a ton of books on children and weight lately and most of them agree that it's not a "kid" problem it's a whole family issue and everyone is going to have to make changes. Even if there are people in the family who are eating the same junk and not overweight, that's not good for anyone.
First, Mom needs to stop letting junk in the house. I wouldn't hound her about what she eats at birthday parties or friend's houses, but home would be a junk free zone for everyone and Mom should approach it not as, "we can't have junk because 11 year old needs to lose weight" but "we all have too much junk and I'm concerned about OUR health." That doesn't mean living on boneless skinless chicken and carrot sticks, so you have to get creative and find some things she does like and can look forward to.
Second, Mom needs to prepare healthy and interesting meals and snacks, possibly even begin packing lunches for school (because school lunches are pretty horrible).
Third, and this one is hard for families but it is in most of the books so it seems important, everyone should eat the same thing. Parents decide when and what, kids decide if and how much. If mom makes grilled chicken, baked potatoes, and steamed vegetables for dinner (this is just the first thing I thought of. I know my daughter would eat some chicken, half a baked potato, and a small bit of the veg, depending on what it is - the main point is that there's something there inoffensive enough for everyone)...daughter can eat what she likes of that. Chicken nuggets are not a possible alternative because no one brings those in the house.
Just cutting out soda, juice, sports drinks (why do all kids drink sports drinks? are they out doing two a day NFL football practices when I'm not looking?), and fast food will make a huge difference.
I certainly don't have all the answers and I'm not an expert, but I've just been reading these books so the common threads are pretty fresh in my mind.
Bottom line for kids is just like the bottom line for adults - a lot of us become fat because it's just easier to be sedentary and eat junk. Kids don't have much recess time, tv shows kids shows all day long, computers bring sedentary entertainment and even friends right to you. Junk is cheap, it's tasty, the advertising is relentless, it's everywhere, and parents are too tired to fight about it.
We are making changes in our own home. For the most part, we keep healthy stuff in the house but we are in the car SO MUCH. It's just so easy to say FINE, have the darn Happy Meal. My daughter has a sweet tooth. She has days when she can't walk well, so she sits around being bored because it is hard to be the primary entertainment for a frustrated five year old and eventually after the eleventy billionth request for Cheddar Bunnies, sometimes I cave.
Sorry, this has gotten so long I'm just so passionate about childhood obesity. I hated being a fat kid. All my familys' well-meaning attempts to help just made me feel embarrassed and ashamed and even resentful. I ate secretly as a form of rebellion. I was loved with food, I was loved with the lack of food. I was the kid pouring Diet Coke on ice when all the other kids were getting snow cones, then my mom would cook vegetables with sugar and bacon grease.
I guess I feel like I know what DOESN'T work and I'm working very hard to find a way to help my daughter that does not take away how very pleased she is with herself. Even with a mild neurological disorder that impact her mobility, she thinks she is IT. I want her to always have that and I feel like I need to both turn the tide on her weight gain AND never ever let her think of herself as fat.
We're in the process of doing a family overhaul. I'm not going to say a word, we're just changing how we do things. It's going to be uncomfortable because how can I tell her "no sprite" when I drink Diet Coke all day long? But if I tell her...look, this is ok sometimes but it's not something we can keep at home to drink. Too much is just bad for us. Well, maybe that will eventually make sense to her. I am going to have to prepare ahead because we will always have doctor's appointments that are far away. I'm going to have to learn to pack lunch or enough snacks to get us home...where I will have a healthy meal already prepared in the crock pot.
To me, the hardest part is that some days are very hard for her. It's hard to look at her after a hard day when she just wants some ice cream and tell her no. I do know that for a minute, that ice cream treat will take her mind of some really rotten days. I guess if I can clean up the rest of our diet, that one teeny bit of ice cream at the end of a bad day won't be so bad. I don't want to teach her that food is comfort, but I am not made of stone either.
As for your sister not liking fruit and vegetables - well, that's life. If you've been allowed to eat ketchup and chicken nuggets your whole life, you just have to get used to something new. You can make a smoothie with yogurt, a little honey, and some frozen fruit. You can find new ways to prepare vegetables (my family likes roasted better than steamed).
02-04-2011, 04:44 PM
Is there a place nbearby where you could take her swimming? Like a YMCA or YWCA?
02-05-2011, 12:47 PM
Thanks NiteNicole for the thorough response. It's great that you're so thoughtful about how to handle things with your daughter. I think more parents need to think a lot harder about their kids' health. I'm sure everyone here does, since they're already thinking about their own health. ;)
I think you're right about not making it about her, but the family. I hated being singled out as the fat kid and that already happens enough at school and with friends, so she definitely doesn't need it at home too. I think my parents are trying to keep better food around, but I think they need to step it up and eat a lot healthier... and if she uses too much sour cream on perogies, it shouldn't be a fight—my mom should simply stop buying it or find a lower calorie substitute. I've been keeping a food journal online and counting my calories so I'm hoping that I can suggest some better foods for them.
The hard thing I think is monitoring what she's eating on her own and doing more physical activities with her. My parents are older and both work really hard. My mom works a really hard job and most days she leaves for work at 5:30 am and doesn't make it home until 6 pm... and by the time she comes home she's exhausted. My dad is around, but he usually comes home after work, takes a nap and then does stuff around the house or yard work. So my sister basically comes home after school makes herself a "snack" without anyone really noticing, which is basically a meal, and then she eats dinner a few hours later. I relate to that routine because I basically had the same one when I was her age. It's hard because you don't have control over meal times or snack times at that age and you end up coming home after school starving.
Although, thinking about all of this... it's just an excuse. I know there's gotta be more they can do as a family.
I just wish I lived closer and could help out more. I don't have a car right now (I totaled it in a nasty accident a few months ago) and so I can't visit that often to be there and help out. I really wish my brother and his girlfriend who lives down the street from them would help out, but they don't get along with my sister very well (because he's basically a 32-year-old baby).
05-05-2011, 10:53 PM
I've been in your sister's position. My question is: is she having problems in school maybe with bullies? i dont know her behavioral problems but it might be connected.
If not and she loves computers and video games, there are a lot of games out there that get a person up and moving. Also most 11 year olds LOVE dancing. If you could find a Zumba class or get the home DVDs and do it with her it might help.
But i think maybe you should take her for a walk and just talk. Maybe she just needs someone to listen to her and then go from there.
Hope that helps!
05-09-2011, 05:52 PM
I just want to say I think it's great that you care so much about your sister that you want to help. Everyone gave some really good advice. I really wish someone would have helped me when I was that age. Most of it had to due with feeling lonely and bored. So, spending time with her is a great start. :-)
05-09-2011, 06:28 PM
You have been given a ton of great advice here. I just want to throw in my two cents:
I was always overweight. My mom is living with me now, so I'm learning a few things about what happened in my childhood. My mom said it was always just easier to shut me up with food, whenever I was bored, angry, frustrated, or had hurt myself. Then, at the tender age of 8, she took me to her TOPS meetings. Wow.
I admit I am obsessed about my daughter's nutrition. But I don't let her see my obsession. I don't want her being obsessed. I encourage her to eat if she is hungry, and I give her decent food choices (she's only 2). I don't play into the shut me up game like my mother did. It's better for her to work out her feelings than to smother them in junk food.
Show your sister love and support for who she is. That will mean more to her than you interfering in her diet. (of course, what she doesn't know won't hurt - keep encouraging your mom to make better choices) I resented my family for making me feel worthless because I was overweight. My mom needed to know everything I put in my mouth - so I hid it. No kid should feel ashamed of eating. EVER! She's growing still, and still working out who she is and her self worth. Don't let it hinge on everyone else's opinion of what is acceptable.
I probably didn't make any sense, and I apologize if it seemed like a rant. I just feel so badly for your sister's situation. Show her unconditional love, no matter her size. She'll have a healthier relationship with food because of it.
PS - I was also 180 lbs when I was 12, and I think back to: if I had been able to maintain that weight (instead of trying to lose it and therefore obsessing over it) I would have grown into some of it, and I would have had a better start when I was old enough to care about it on my own.
05-16-2011, 09:52 AM
I see the weight problem as a side effect of her emotional problems. I think she needs to seek counselling. Sounds like she has a lot on her plate for an 11 year old.
09-16-2012, 03:19 PM
I wanted to thank everyone for your advice in this thread and give you an update on my sister. She's lost around 30 lbs and looks and feels great. My mother and I have both committed to losing weight and I think we rubbed off on her. Plus, she's almost 13 now and really into boys so I think that's helped motivate her some too. Lol.