The Pediatrician Confirmed our Fears

My husband and I thought that our newly-minted 10-yr-old daughter has been looking pretty thin over the last six to nine months.  She had always been a picky eater (like her mom), but her zen for desserts/junk food seemed to be changing.  Whereas prior to that time, on any given day you could count on her to be into having junk food when it was offered, she started to decline such foods on a random basis. 

My first thoughts were of happiness – my daughter had a normal relationship with food and didn’t eat just to eat, and could listen to her body’s signals that she was full or just plain not hungry – woohoo!!!!  What I would give to be  be that way!

Quickly though, those thoughts changed.  As someone who started becoming a compulsive overeater at right around her age, my radar of course went up.  So my thoughts turned to – what effect me and my eating habits and/or the peer pressure at school were having on her.

Because of my issues and being acutely aware of all the body image issues out there for kids these days, my husband and I never used the word “fat” in our house.  You would never hear the words “do these jeans make my butt look big” or the like, because we didn’t want our kids to hear that kind of stuff.  Well, as much as we’d like to keep our kids in a bubble of our protected world, they of course heard those terms and phrases at school and on disney shows (!!), so those terms came into our home.

She had always been an average weight for most of her life, but now she was looking decidedly thin.  So at her 10-yr check up last week, our fears were confirmed.  Apprarently, at this age, kids are supposed to gain about 5 pounds a year.  Well, my daughter grew only 1-1/4 inches and LOST 2 lbs over the course of the past year!  So compared to last year, her height went from being the 45th percentile to the 30th and her weight went from the 50th percentile to the 20th percentile. 

So the doctor wants to see her back again in six weeks to see if there has been any change in her weight.  At that time, the doctor may or may not send our daughter for blood work to make sure it is not a medical issue.

Assuming there is no medical problem, as she is otherwise healthy, I can’t help but wonder what part of this weight issue is from what she mimics of me and what part is peer related. After the nurse weighed and measured her, and we were waiting for the doctor to come in, I was looking at my little record book of her heights and weights and noticed the drop.  I casually mentioned it to my daughter and she made a comment about not wanting to get fat.  I know that is not something ever said in this house, however, I am her mother, her main care-giver, and I’m sure some of my sickness is evident to her in some fasion.  *sigh*  I have not told her (or my younger son) about my eating disorder because I think she is too young to really comprehend it.  But I will definitely have a talk with her about it when my husband and I feel the time is right.

So my husband and I are supposed to, in a relaxed fashion,  encourage her to eat more, such as having a snack before bed, which we haven’t done in the past.  We are hoping that by her hearing from the doctor that she needs to eat more, and our gentle prodding, that she will put some weight back on.


6 comments so far

  1. innerpilgrimage on

    Oh wow… I am so sorry you’re facing off with this. Having grown up in a house where there were issues with alcohol, I rebelled by eating. I knew as a young child that it was there, that it meant more than me.

    She already knows you struggle with food–both of your kids do. She also knows you’re working hard to repair it. We can’t hide our actions, no matter in which stage of recovery we are. I bet if you had a mom-to-daughter/woman-to-woman conversation about your disease, she’ll understand better. I mean, if Mom is working hard to control her eating and struggles with it (which she sees), she already has learned that women battle food. And the fashion magazines reinforce that with the airbrushed and photoshopped women they put in their pages. But you’re not battling food, however; you’re leaving food obsession behind. It’s very empowering.

    I think if you’re open, she’ll respond. Let her know what makes you want to compulsively overeat, because it’s possible similar pressures are making her compulsively undereat.

    I know what you’re going through, in a sideways way. My 11-year-old son vacillates between compulsive eating and normal eating, and my habits with food until now (and sometimes even still) have been abysmal. But he knows I’m trying to get healthy for everyone who wants me around longer, and that seems to have an effect. He seems comforted by it and is very affectionate–something which I accept gladly more often since I’ve stopped loathing myself for my “lack of self-control” with food.

    My fingers are crossed that it will pass soon, and I’m hoping with your HP’s help, you’ll be given that right time to have “The Talk” (be it today or two years from now).

    • love2eatinpa on

      thanks so much for your response. i honestly don’t know how much my kids know. when you think about it, as i’m the only mom they have and live with, they have nothing to really compare me to. it’s not like they can trade houses and live for a week with a mom who has no food issues to compare me to, you know? so to them, i’m the norm, i’m thinking anyway. i don’t think, unless i’m kidding myself and maybe i am, that they see me struggling. i think the turmoil is on my inside. i don’t make any verbal comments, except to my husband about my ED. but then, kids do have big ears and are sponges, so who knows? see, the things is that while i’ve been battling this ED for over 30 years, my most heavy years were before i had my children. so they don’t know me as being heavy, in fact, i think i’ve heard them refer to me as being thin. i’m afraid that it is too deep to explain this to her and even then it would be hard for her to grasp. i also don’t know that i want her mentioning it to her friends, because it will then get to their moms, some of which are my friends, and so on. so i really can’t use the “i’m watching what i eat because i’m trying to get healthy” reasoning. i usually, if they question my measuring, say something to the effect of “mommy knows how much food her body needs to keep her healthy and strong…” it just goes to show that no matter what you look like on the outside, we all battle our own personal demons on the inside. perhaps that is a huge lesson in itself to share with her. *sigh* this is so hard. i’m sure you are right though and HP will help me know when the right time is to have this talk with her.

  2. Barry on

    This is the first time I’ve been able to find anyone else discuss the need to talk to kids regarding a parents eating disorder. My wife came out a year ago about living a secret life as a bulimic. I was devestated that we had been together for so many years and I did not know about her struggle. We have fairly young kids. Ultimately my wife went to a treatment facility for nearly 3 months. It was traumatic in that she had to leave us for so long. We did not tell the kids why she was there, but instead gave them a simpler medical reason for her going away. The kids seemed to believe our fake story, but not without apprehension. I visited my wife as often as possible, and the kids visited her twice. Unfortunately, when she returned home, she relapsed into her eating disorder, and our home life has spiraled downward. Her eating disorder is really a form of addiction. So much trust and betrayal has taken place between us over the last year, and our kids are certainly aware of a change in our home-life and our relationship. They still don’t know about her eating disorder because they are still young (6 & 8), but I am going crazy not being able to be more honest with them. This is especially so with my daughter – the 8 yr old – because I fear that she will emulate her mother and see how thin her mother is and confusing that with what is normal. The way things are, my marriage seems to have little hope, and I can’t imagine putting my kids through a divorce or through any further confusion without being honest. The problem is figuring out what is age appropriate and what information they could even comprehend. I am sure my kids recognize that my wife never eats in front of them, that she is irritable, depressed and that she spends an enormous amount of time at the gym. I don’t want them to internalize all these bad behaviours as being normal or something to aspire to. I’m so confused. The worst thing is that I cannot find any support from other spouses that are dealing with their wives eating disorder. Even at her treatment facility, all the other family members were made up mostly of parents, husbands. It is very isolating.

    • love2eatinpa on

      thanks so much for reaching out to me. it’s great for me to hear the perspective of the husband. first of all, kudos to your wife for coming out about her eating disorder! i can assure you it was not easy for her, but would think, as it was for me, very cathartic. my husband did not know about mine either, but then i really didn’t know i had one, i thought i just had a sweet tooth for 30+ years. when i told him, in the form of a letter that became my first blogs, there was much crying on my part. clearly this had been buried deep inside me and the tears just flowed for days basically. i’m sure it was awful for you and the kids for her to leave and i’m so sorry to hear that she relapsed upon arriving back home again. how heartbreaking. and yes, eating disorders are addictions, just like being an alcoholic or drug addict. the exception with an eating disorder is that you must eat to fuel your body every day, which makes it all the harder. as my kids are 7 (son) and 10 (daughter) i still feel like they are too young to comprehend, so my opinion is that your kids are too young to grasp it as well. still, they are sponges and it’s so hard to know what their bright little brains are taking it and how they are digesting that information. i can definitely feel your frustration in your writing. it is as though your wife has these issues and you are sort of left there to pick up the pieces with your children and try to explain to them what is going on. my heart goes out to you and i wish i could help you. i’m assuming you’ve googled support groups, looked through the yellow pages and your local papers and hospitals to find support. i’m surprised the treatment facility doesn’t offer support for spouses. please feel free to write me whenever you want, i know just getting things off your chest is helpful. hang in there.

  3. Barry on

    Last line was meant to say …”made up of parents, NOT husbands.”

    • love2eatinpa on

      kinda figured that was what you meant, but thanks for clarifying.

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