Son is obese and hungry all the time. WWYD?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by MidwestMom, Sep 23, 2007.

  1. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    My son had open heart surgery as an infant, before we adopted him. He just had his three year check up and his heart is in great shape "just like he never had surgery." B/P good. We are testing for cholestral. He is grossly obese and it will shorten his life if we don't curb his eating habits. He is also hungry ALL THE TIME and not for the healthy snacks. He can eat a pizza in one sitting and then two bags of flaming hot Cheetos. I decided he will not gain another pound. My hub used to say we have to allow snacks in the house for him and easy child, but I insisted that he hide his snacks from now on. What do you do to stop an overweight child from eating? Tell me everything you've done. He's a teen, but very dependent for a teen so it really wouldn't be much harder than deterring a younger child-he doesn't hang out with friends. He's usually at home or school. He is five foot three and 180 lbs. I should add, he has autistic sensitivities to food. He will vomit if forced to eat veggies or chicken without the breading (sigh).
    Lucas had a genetics blood test a long time ago. I wonder if they test for Prader-Willi Disease. Anyone know anybody who has it? It is supposed to cause insatiable hunger and autistic traits, however the kids are usually very short with immature testes and he isn't short (haven't checked the testes for a long but am thinking that the doctors have and would have said something.
    All suggestions are welcome. What do you do when they seem so sad and so hungry? I'm saying, "It's up to me to take care of your health."
  2. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Does Lucas exercise?
  3. Debdeb1031

    Debdeb1031 New Member

    My two sons are obese...their pediatrician has put them on a no carb but fruit diet....they can eat all the meat, and greens and fruit (except bananas and grapes) that they bread crumbs or pastas or rices of anykind....they do eat sugar free ice pops alot(pretty much flavored frozen water) it seems to curb their appetite a bit..also, when they ask for a snack...i do not deny them...however only from the things that they can eat...after the first week, they do not seem to be hungry...however if one does not want to lose the weight, it won't do much good...good luck....i know how hard it is to make dinners and friend sent me a recipe for cauliflower where it is supposed to be like mashed will they think of next....also, another suggestion...lock the cabinents where the "evil" snacks are, and only buy diet drinks as in the diet colas and diet ice tea mix...sometimes that sugar loss alone could help with weight loss
  4. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member's list of disorders listing "overeating" as a symptom. It might turn up something.
  5. ML

    ML Guest

    My son is also overweight though I don't think he is technically obese YET. He is wearing size 10 huskies. People are starting to make fun of him. I am so frustrated because I feel that being the food police could cause an even bigger eating disorder. I try to keep the bad stuff out of the house too. But d is resourceful. His birthday is today!! He just turned 9. When he's noticed no snacks in the house he's taken to baking a cake from scratch. All in the span of time that I go out of the room to change clothes or whatever; he's that quick. When he is not making demands and is quiet there is usually trouble lol. He's been doing cooking projects in daycare for years so he knows his stuff. He too has autistic food sensitivites. I do believe that yeast is likely a participant in this complex child's problems. I see the addictions and wish I'd read about those diets when he was younger and I had more control. Though I feel like I could do better so I'm reading all the responses along with you MWmom. More exercise is a great idea. Just have to bring the asthma inhaler (ALWAYS something). MicheleL
  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi and thanks. It's hard to get Lucas to exercise. We have to literally force the issue and he only does half an effort. He also has so many food sensitivities that he refuses to eat rather than eat things he doesn't like, which is almost everything!!!! Mashed cauliflower wouldn't work with him. Not only does he hate the texture and feel of mashed potatoes, but you can't fool him. He even knows a diet soda from a sugary one with the label removed. Today he is pouting and saying to himself, "I a stupid FAT person." I feel so bad. He wanted his favorite Flaming Hot Cheetos and when he realized I wouldn't buy them he started to cry and mumble about how he is an idiot. He went to his room and I can still hear him mumbling. The autism confuses things. Even though I tell him I'm doing it for his health, he doesn't seem to care.
    Lucas is joining Special Olympics soon. He'll be doing crosscountry skiing and snow-somthing lol. He is able to participate in regular soccer and usually does, and could be on the swim team, but he won't do it--truly hates it. It's VERY hard practice and he always comes in with the highest times, which makes him feel bad. I was pretty much told it will shorten his life if he doesn't lower his body fat, and that spurred me. But I also don't want him to be so depressed and down on himself.
  7. goldenguru

    goldenguru New Member

    This is a tough call. My son tended toward the 'chunky' side. At about 17 I sat him down and told him my concerns. I took him to a good dietitian and pediatrician who explained that overweight children have a much higher propensity to become overweight adults.

    I prepared healthy meals. I limited the amount of junk in the house. I modeled good eating/exercise habits.

    And then I tried to shut my mouth.

    Your son is younger by several years. I certainly would start with appointments to dietitians and pediatricians. If they rule out any physical issues you may want to begin to examine other reasons why he over eats. Food is often used as a medicine ... to make oneself feel better. He may need some therapy to understand his relationship with food.

    Your son is not alone. As a nation we are feeding kids to obesity. There is no one single factor. It is an epidemic.

    I would prepare healthy meals, limit the junk, and model good eating habits.

    My son is 21 now and has just recently decided to take his weight and health under control. He is eating healthier and exercising regularly. As much as I tried to encourage him these past four years, it was a personal decision that he needed to make.
  8. AllStressedOut

    AllStressedOut New Member

    Has he been obese since he was an infant? Hard to curb his appetite all along? If so, you may be right, he may have prader-willi. Here is the info I looked up on it when my mother suggested my youngest difficult child may have it. He did not have any other symptom besides wanting to eat constantly. He's not obese and was only chubby at the appropriate ages, like as an infant-2 year old and not overly chubby. I think I've ruled it out for him, but maybe this will you help you decide if yours should be tested. Good luck!
  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    He was a slender child until he was misdiagnosed with bipolar and put on "hungry" medications. THAT did it. He's been off medications for four years now though, and he's still hungry. I don't know if that made him habitually hungry or not. When I saw the heart surgeon, she looked and saw that he'd had thyroid tests when he was on Lithium and that they were normal, and she referred us to a Child Endocrinologist. She is the first doctor that really expressed grave concern over the weight, although I've been expressing it for years.
    In our house, we don't smoke or drink and I eat only healthy foods. I exercise at the gym five days a week, and he knows that, and also do lots of bike riding. My other kids were thin when they were his age. Now a few have gained a little, but they're grown and they certainly aren't obese.
    Lucas is difficult because he won't eat what most kids will eat. He has a very narrow list of foods that he'll eat. Anything he doesn't like, he gags on (which isn't that unusual for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)). He also vomits, not defiantly. It just comes back up right away.
    We are going to see if there is a genetic or medical reason he is so hungry. He was adopted and we know little about his birth family, but THEY could be obese, which would make him pre-disposed. But that's something we are unlikely to find out as his birthmother pretty much gave birth to him and said "see ya." We have tried to find his grandmother, who has his siblings, but she either doesn't have a phone or can't be found. The thing that makes me so angry is that he was misdiagnosed and never should have been on these medications in the first place, but that's hindsight.
    Keep the suggestions coming!
  10. BestICan

    BestICan This community rocks.

    Hi, I haven't posted in a long time but your post caught my attention. I actually used to work (years ago) in a facility that had a prader-willi clinic. While I didn't actually assist the kids in that clinic, there was a definite physical "type" that they seemed to share. I briefly checked out the link that a previous poster put up about prader-willi and it lists physical characteristics about face and hands, as well as the undescended testes. Something that the article didn't mention was that so many of these kids had massive scabs all over their arms and faces - they tended to pick and pick at their skin.

    Anyway, here's more specific information on diagnostic criteria and facial characteristics:

    Good luck!

  11. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Best, THANKS! My son does pick at his skin, but doesn't have scabs or undescended testicles. He is also average in height. Can you have PW without all the symptoms?
  12. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    From what I understand, Prader-Willi is a package deal. Because it is a genetic condition (part of one chromosome displacing another part - highly specific), it MAY be possible to have a slightly lesser degree, but in this case i don't think so.

    difficult child 3 has a drama classmate with Prader-WIlli. I won't say they're friends - difficult child 3 can't stand him because this other kid is always mucking around and being difficult. But from what I've seen of this boy, he is a sweet kid a lot of the time and his mother has managed to keep him only mildly chubby. Frankly, he looks normal. But this is at a HUGE effort.

    I very much doubt this is Prader-Willi. It's generally found in infancy, often at birth when the absence of a gag reflex is found (and they always test for gag reflex). This mother told us that part of the syndrome is an inability to vomit (or maybe not vomit properly, or only rarely). This is such a problem that if he eats something bad (which they will - it's food, they do not discriminate) they need to go to hospital and have their stomach pumped.

    The insatiable appetite in Prader-Willi comes from an area of the hypothalamus not working - it's the part that sends signals to the body saying, "I'm full". It is the part which received signals from the blood sugar levels and from the stretched stomach saying, "I do not need food." And without that signal, the person ALWAYS feels as if they are starving, even if they've just eaten a huge meal. A Prader-Willi can literally eat themselves to death - and not just eventually from heart disease. Unsupervised, they can keep eating until their stomach literally explodes. They simply do not feel it.

    It is a matter of degree - it is probably several orders of magnitude worse than Lucas is now. And I know that is saying something.

    My friend at drama class (the mother) was telling us about her recent birthday when the family went to a restaurant for dinner. It had a buffet - a big mistake, it turned out. The boy began loading his plate high with everything he could get, he was grabbing at food. His mother took his plate from him and began to offload his food onto another plate so she could ration him - he began screaming, "That's MY food! Give me my food! I'm starving!" over and over. He was grabbing at her, grabbing at every plate within reach and eventually they just had to give up and go home.

    And this is a well-controlled Prader-Willi.

    I've seen her give him a treat - they do not buy milk in bottles any more, they only buy the small single-serve sachets of milk. A treat for him when he is feeling ravenous (all the time) is to be given ONE of these which he has been taught to sip slowly.
    Of course it doesn't last and his mother has locks on all the food cupboards and the fridge. At the drama class they have a biscuit tin and tea/coffee things. We have to lock up the milk while the kids are changing over the class, to keep this boy away from temptation. It's just not fair. He still gets to the biscuits but is limited to just one. Where possible, they try to hide the biscuit tin from him too.

    Your son - was he on risperdal? You mentioned something which sounded like it. difficult child 1 did lose his risperdal weight when he went off it, but it took about a year. He didn't lose it all, but he is finally skinny again.

    Your husband says to not keep snacks out of the house entirely - sorry, husband. This has to be a rule for everyone, or it's just not fair on Lucas. It's hard enough on him, others should make sacrifices - and it's a healthy sacrifice anyway. If husband wants his snacks he can have them at work. You HAVE to eliminate rubbish from the house or it will be found and consumed. Or smuggled in and you will think it's just husband or easy child. Whereas if the entire family is going on a health kick, then it's the whole family. And make it a fitness kick too - take resting pulse for everyone and put it on a chart. Then each person do five minutes of exercise to get the heart rate up - if you haven't got an exercise bike and people don't want to jog, then stepping is good. If you have no steps, then get some phone books and use those as steps. You can always find something. Then measure pulse immediately you stop the exercise, then after five minutes. If necessary, measure pulse at five minute intervals to determine how long it will take to go back to that person's resting level.
    Teach each person to take their pulse - count beats for 15 seconds then multiply by 4. Or for ten seconds, multiply by 6. The shorter interval as the pulse is slowing post-exercise gives you more of a snapshot of your pulse, it will be more accurate.
    And make everyone do this - not just Lucas. He might find he's no longer worst at something, and being young he might make better progress than, say, husband. And if husband is still insisting on his own supplies of junk food (maybe at work) then this increases the chance of Lucas 'winning' compared to husband.

    If you can, set up a daily (or three times weekly) family exercise session. Begin with simple stretches (don't bounce into the stretch, just do it gently, hold, then release - never push to the point of pain) and then move into exercise (half an hour if you can manage it) and then more stretches to cool down. Monitoring pulse is a way of monitoring increasing fitness for each individual.
    And on other days - each person can 'cheat' by trying to surreptitiously exercise to get their fitness up faster. Walking is perhaps best of all, if Lucas is starting from a point of reduced fitness. Or he could go to the gym with you and maybe find some of the machines can be fun. I used to reward myself at the gum by getting a swim or sauna afterwards. A special treat afterwards can be a healthy treat such as a frozen fruit ice block, or frozen fruit puree in a dish.

    Find healthy junk food which he can eat whenever he likes. Maybe don't suddenly go ultra-strict on his diet - simply removing the worst junk food can bring a fair bit of improvement. Savoury popcorn can be really good as a snack, you can get flavoured salt instead of using real butter. We pop our own popcorn and have home movie nights sometimes, pausing the DVD to get up and make more popcorn.

    Home-made pizza - I use a bread machine to make the bread dough base, then add our own toppings. I often use low-fat cheese (which melts like mozzarella) plus a small amount of freshly grated parmesan, for a cheese flavour boost without all the problems. You can monitor your own toppings, make plates of toppings available and get people to make their own pizza (from YOUR range of ingredients).

    You can provide a healthy diet by avoiding the textures and flavours he can't tolerate. Asian stir-fries work well for us - again, we try to avoid ingredients that the kids dislike. Alternatively, we cut the pieces larger than usual to make it easier to pick them out - easy child 2/difficult child 2 hates onion, red or green capsicum, broccoli. So we cut those pieces large enough for her to pick them out and give to someone else.

    Growing your own vegetables can also work really well for kids who need to eat healthy food. You can get the more unusual varieties (such as yellow tomatoes, blue potatoes and so on) and see how the kids go. Get the kids to help plant and care for the veg garden and they will learn to appreciate the food more. I planted a lot of parsley (too much) and now difficult child 3 picks a small piece and nibbles it. I've got sugar snap peas but rarely have enough to harvest for a meal - difficult child 3 eats them raw. My cauliflower took two years to mature (a failure) but the tomatoes are beginning to look promising. When I've had tomatoes before the kids really value the intense flavour of tomatoes allowed to fully ripen on the vine. Nothing compares to that! I grow a lot of herbs, the kids are sent to pick some for me for various recipes. Sometimes they pick chives to nibble, as well as the parsley.

    Case in point - I bought some apples for husband and he hasn't taken any to work. I just gave one to difficult child 3 to eat while doing his schoolwork and he brought me the seeds - they were already sprouting inside the apple, he asked me to plant them for him. And we just were talking about why and how seeds sprout, still inside the fruit. He will probably eat more apples to find more sprouting seeds, and also watch those seedlings to see what happens.

    Discovering food can be a real good way to diet. Sounds crazy, but it at least makes for a healthier person. We buy fruit and vegetables in season, the kids are encouraged to eat as much as they want. If they eat all the carrots and I was planning on cooking some, I make sure I plan and buy extra. I buy a bunch of celery and the kids eat it fast, often spreading it with Vegemite (Aussie treat - always use it sparingly). Another celery treat is cottage cheese and sultanas. Or dips.

    I gather Lucas doesn't like creamy textures - how is he with yogurt? I have a savory dip recipe which is fabulous (tastes very bad for you) made from yogurt. Tzaziki.

    Eating more food isn't a problem, if he's eating healthy food. OK, bananas have a lot of calories, so do apples, but if he eats six apples in one sitting he's also getting the fibre, as well as a taste for raw food. All of this is good. The same number of calories of a processed starch snack will sit in his stomach and ALL get absorbed, whereas the apples will be moving through his GI tract faster and pull other things with them.

    If, after merely eliminating rubbish and replacing it with unlimited fruit & veg, he is STILL gaining weight unhealthily, THEN you can bring in calorie control. But don't cut out everything, or too much. Keep a food pyramid inside the pantry door or on the fridge, to remind the family that there are healthy options now available.

    And watch out for diet foods - they often make things worse. A lot of low-fat foods are still highly processed and compensate with extra sugar - very bad. Low-cal soft drinks still keep you programmed for a sweet taste. Add in that they are unsatisfying when you have a sugar craving, and all they do is send you off in search of the real thing. If instead you had slaked your thirst with a glass of milk, or water, you wouldn't have that problem.
    I was drinking skim milk for a long time, until I realised that taking out that 4% of fat meant that there was another 4 mls in every 100 mls with the extra 4 mls worth of lactose. That's why it tastes sweeter. It's also absorbed much faster - the fat slows down absorption.

    So don't put him on a diet, just put the whole family on a junk-free, additive-free unlimited food diet, plus maybe some regular exercise to monitor increased fitness.

    Good luck selling it to husband! If you can sell it to him, you should be able to sell it to Lucas. You and Lucas can laugh together at husband's snack food cravings!

  13. SunnyFlorida

    SunnyFlorida Active Member

    You might try taking him to a Pediatric Gastroenterologist. Especially one that is associated with a local Children's Hospital. Their practice usually includes nutrition. They can order all the tests, maybe refer to Pediatric Genetics, and possibly admit if need be.
  14. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Sunny has good sound advice.

    And I was going to have a response until it went flittering right out of my brain...... :hammer:

  15. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I hope I am not stating the obvious, but I would not have cheetos and pizzas in my house in this situation.

    Maybe that sounds weird, but those are just things that aren't in my house. They never have been, and they never will be. Your husband sounds very selfish to me. It should go way beyond him hiding his snacks. He just plain shouldn't have them in the house period.

    Neither of them will starve. If Lucas has food sensitivities, it seems that allowing him to eat these things is just a no go. If he doesn't like what you have, I guess he'll just eat less.

    Our problem with M was on the opposite side of the spectrum. He wouldn't eat anything, and held us hostage with the few things he would eat. We finally told him we didn't care whether he ate or not, we weren't setting a menu to please his palate. He figured out that he would rather eat than go hungry and his choices were limited. It sounds as though your family could benefit from seeing a nutritionist.
  16. 'Chelle

    'Chelle Active Member

    I would suggest seeing a nutritionist. If his list of foods he'll eat are limited, then maybe he's missing something vitamin/mineral/nutrient-wise and his body is craving it so tells him to eat. My difficult child would gag on veggies too and still doesn't eat them, so he's probably vitamin deficient somewhat himself. I try to get him to take a multivitamin, when I remember.
  17. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Thanks for all! Megs, thank you for the heads up on Prader-Willi--Lucas doesn't seem to fit that at all.
    Hub and I are no longer having any snacks in the house that Lucas can get to. Hub isn't a big eater--he can stash some snacks in the bedroom and lock the door. He rarely eats them in front of Lucas and normally only has a very small portion while watching television in our room. I told daughter we were "going healthy." She pouted and said "It's not fair" but when I told her it's about her brother's life, she stopped. The goal here is to keep him at 180 lbs. That's way too much for five foot three, but he's far from finished growing. He is going to have to at least ride his bike for a half an hour each day--or do some excerise. Today he had to mow the lawn, which is very strenuous. He is to get a reward for good eating in six months if he keeps it up. As I mentioned, since there are many things that make him gag--veggie, yogurt, mashed potatoes, etc.--we'll have to see what he eats. Last night I made him a meal and counted calories carefully. I gave him six chicken nuggets (150 calories), a cup of applesauce (100) and a glass of skim milk (100). He was surprised he had such a good meal and did not complain. I'm working on smaller portions. Given a choice himself, he'd eat half the box of those chicken nuggets. And, no, he won't eat plan chicken--you guessed it, it makes him gag. I took him to a nutritionist who harped on calories and exercise, so we'll go with that. I'm calling the school to make sure that Lucas only gets one helping at lunch. They are allowed seconds. Thanks all. Keep the suggestions coming.
  18. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts


    kt has her budding eating disorder & we have been working with a dietician & her pediatrician on healthy eating choices.

    We have few "junk" food choices in the house. Instead we focus on portion control & exercise. I push kt to run extra steps when doing laundry & cleaning the yard. She's not even aware of this.

    In home therapist & I are following dietician's orders & working teaching kt portion control & healthy snack choices. Many times kt will choose popcorn or a 1/2 cup yogurt with graham crackers.

    I still have ice cream in the house - rather I have fat free sherbet. kt loves this stuff - took her awhile to lose that taste for the high fat ice creams. Every now & then we "treat" ourselves to ice cream - just the small carton; one serving for each of us.

    I don't remember about Lucas - kt loves to go to the park. Each day she rides her scooter. Part of her daily chores is to walk Sally for 20 minutes each afternoon.

    I really end up sneaking in the exercise & healthy foods. I don't have the cookies (unless I've baked them) or candy in the house for the most part.

    This has been a plan in the making for the past 2 years because of the eating disorder we've seen coming.

    Just a few ideas for you to ponder - see if they will work with Lucas.