Not Eating

Wow, you guys. Talking about this whole “aching for another baby thing” has been so very helpful. Thank you all, so much, for your kind words and support. I had a few comments that were more critical of my situation, but Swistle pretty much summed up every thought in my head- and BETTER- with her comment. (Seriously. Go read it here.) And she’s definitely onto something with the whole “two kids in normal” mentality observation.

Moving on…
So, this morning I discovered that this girl:

My hat wearing, bug loving,
snuggly and sweet girl Kate,
has not been eating ANYTHING until she came home from school.
Her school year has started off FABULOUSLY, especially compared to last spring (here, and just about every post for the month of May). But she’s been refusing breakfast, so I’ve been coaxing her by allowing her to eat WHATEVER she wanted, as long as it was something. I was so frustrated by her not eating breakfast, but I was trying to not make an Issue out of it, and I was also comforted by the fact that she does get a morning snack at school.
But this morning? I discovered her stash of everything I thought she’d been eating for breakfast, plus all of her morning snacks UNEATEN. And then David, who’s been emptying and washing the lunch boxes lately, told me she’s MAYBE eating one teensy bite of her sandwich at lunch, leaving the rest wholly untouched.
So she is not eating ANYTHING (except that one small bite of sandwich) until 3 pm when she gets home???????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!! At 7 1/2 she weighs around 44 pounds- she’s already a tiny kid.
I was LIVID to find this out. This is not normal! Why isn’t she eating? What the hell is going on here? How can she even LEARN a single thing, with zero food in her small system?
You guys. WHAT do I do? She’s obviously not doing this for attention, because her sneaky ways say otherwise… I can’t force her to eat. I don’t want to make a HUGE issue out of this. Food, of all things, is so goddamn tricky. But I can’t allow her to skip 2 meals and a snack every day, right?
This is the kind of situation that makes me feel like I’m failing as a parent.
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17 thoughts on “Not Eating

  1. Oh, MAN. I have NO IDEA what to tell you, except that you are NOT failing as a parent, and you will figure this out. Have you thought about calling your pediatrician to discuss?

    Oof. I really don’t know how to deal with this. But I hope you can get it resolved soon! Good luck!

  2. Oh man. Do you think it’s a case of Nervous Tummy, or…? Is she eating well in the afternoon/evening?

    If so, I don’t know if I would worry AS much. I can relate to her, since I’ve always been someone who preferred to do the bulk of my eating late in the day, even as a kid. I always HATED being forced to eat breakfast, because I was (am) NEVER hungry in the mornings and the mere IDEA of food made me nauseated. I don’t remember skipping lunch at her age, but by junior high I wasn’t eating at all until I got home from school, either. I just preferred it that way (and I still do).

    However, if it’s a Nervous Tummy issue because of something going on at school, that’s obviously different.

    Also, with food I always sort of think there IS no allow/not allow. You just don’t control it. She does. If you make it clear you don’t approve, she’ll just make sure you don’t know about it. Ya know?

    Anyway, Food Issues. Blech. This is stressful, I hear ya.

  3. I don’t know if it will make you feel any better, but when I was that age, I never ate. My parents didn’t exactly force me to eat, but there was a lot of pressure to eat the food on my plate, so I used to hide my food behind furniture for my parents to find later (gross!). You’d think I would of at least given it to the dog.

    I grew out of it, though. I don’t think it was an eating disorder thing or a control thing, I think I was just never hungry, and knew that it bugged the crap out of my parents, so hid the evidence.

    As an older kid and teenager, I ate normally and was a normal weight. Same as an adult.

  4. I agree that you do not want to make a big deal out of it. I would mention it to the teacher so that maybe she/he could work in a lesson to the whole class about how food fuels the body.

    I don’t have anything useful to suggest, but I do know quite a few kids who seem to exist on air alone.

  5. I wonder if it’s related to the vomit phobia?

    I was similar at her age, and for me it was related to my phobia of vomiting. It started with a simple thing: right in front of me, at school, someone threw up something I ate on a regular basis. I decided I wouldn’t eat that thing again. Then I decided if I ate very very little, it was unlikely that I would throw up. Also, I was so freaked about throwing up that I thought about it all the time, which made me nauseous, which made me not want to eat. Especially at school, which was where I was terrified to be sick (make a big mess, kids laughing, my mom at work, me stuck in the nurse’s office with all those other sick kids, etc.)

    I’ve been reading a book called “Freeing Your Child from Anxiety” and it’s been helpful in steering our parenting of Z with her numerous phobias. OY. If only it had all the answers….

  6. Gosh. This must be so stressful for you! Of course it’s natural for our brains to go, ZOMG Eating Disorder! But I really think she is too young for that. And it sounds like she eats dinner reasonably well, right? I wonder, as Tess suggested, whether it’s a nervous thing. Maybe she doesn’t want to eat in front of other kids (although that doesn’t explain breakfast) or maybe she’s stressed about something at school and it upsets her stomach. As a kid, I was an anxious WRECK about school and while, for me, it didn’t affect my eating, I could totally see how it could for someone else.

    I also second the thought of running it by her pediatrician. Or maybe her teacher just to see if she has observed anything unusual (although I wouldn’t want Kate to know you’d been asking, either, as that will blow it up into a bigger deal, maybe, than you (or she) want it to be).

    Gads, I don’t know!

  7. I don’t have any useful advice, just wanted to add to the commenters saying this does not in any way mean you are failing as a parent.

    Since the time my son was a toddler I’ve had to regularly repeat to myself “you can’t make him sleep” and then a bit later I had to add “you can’t make him eat.” There are times when I’d love to be able to either or both, but damn if parenting doesn’t have to keep teaching me over and OVER again that there are some things I cannot make my kids do. I think checking with her pediatrician is a good idea and talking with her to find out if it might be nervous tummy and if it’s neither of those, then trying really hard to divorce yourself from the issue emotionally (HA – I’m so good at giving this advice, if only I could follow it myself!)

  8. A friend of mine just went through this with her ten-year-old daughter and it turned out she had juvenile diabetes. Not good news, but she was afraid it was anorexia so she was actually relieved to find out. Maybe a visit to the ped. is in order. At the very least you might rule out some explanations. Good luck!

  9. A friend of mine just went through this with her ten-year-old daughter and it turned out she had juvenile diabetes. Not good news, but she was afraid it was anorexia so she was actually relieved to find out. Maybe a visit to the ped. is in order. At the very least you might rule out some explanations. Good luck!

  10. Is this the child with anxiety? If so the 2 might be linked. I was a very shy, nervous child and especially during the times at school when I was being bullied, I really couldn’t eat anything. I was so nervous about everything my stomach was tied up in knots. If it’s really not at all worry-related, maybe not making a big deal out of it, but explaining that not eating can make us sick and try to get her to agree on some things that she will eat each morning/lunch. Doesn’t need to be a lot, but she needs to eat. I would also ask a (good) doctor his thoughts. Not to scare you, but my period of refusing to eat as a teenager (probably more anorexia I guess) led to stomach problems for a number of years later. It seemed to change how my body related to food. Have no idea if it’s the same for younger kids (I think most 2 year olds survive on nothing for days it seems!) but I’d at least ask the questions! Good luck.

  11. Have you asked her why she isn’t eating? Before dragging her to the ped or asking the teacher to incorporate something into the lesson plan, I would start just by asking her. Maybe there’s a simple explanation. Or maybe there’s something she’s afraid to tell you and she knows you guys see her lunchbox and such and she was hoping you’d notice and ask. (Sounds like something I would have done as a kid.)

    Whatever it is, I would start by asking her. Don’t make a big deal of it, no. Just ask her.

  12. Oh how I hope this is just a phase for you.

    Andrew ate none of his school lunch for the first week and a half of school. I finally lost my cool and made him eat his lunch for dinner. Turns out he couldn’t open the environmentally safe containers I had gotten for him, but he’d never mentioned it… Oops. Of course this is not your issue, since breakfast is also being omitted.

    So, anyway, I guess I’d second the commenter that suggested just asking her in a non-judgemental, non-fretting manner. Perhaps she has an answer for you.

  13. I third asking her: make it as clear as you can by your tone that you’re just hoping to understand and want her to help you out. The trick is not to make her feel ashamed or exposed or protective of the behavior — to allow her to maintain the boundary around herself and her decision to eat.

  14. Oh, this would make me so fretful too! I remember hearing (multiple times, so you’ve probably heard it so much you’re sick of it) that the parent’s job is to offer the healthy food, and the child’s job is to eat.

    I think I would let it go for awhile (after asking her what’s up), unless she starts to get sickly. I think I might also tell the teacher what’s going on and make sure she’s not acting tired or unable to focus in class.

    My dad, too, has always been a later-in-the-day eater, just naturally. He’s not really hungry until afternoon.

  15. 1. you are not failing as a parent.
    2. I was this kid.
    3. I have this kid.
    4. I’ve decided that for the most part, I’m gonna let it ride, other than the fact that I remind her that she needs to EAT to be able to LEARN and be SMART.

    Don’t know if I’m doing the right thing, but I’m trying to approach it lovingly and with as much grace as possible.

  16. You are not failing. You are totally on the ball. It is difficult to discover things like this.

    BUt I don’t know. I’d call the pediatrician. Mostly because that would make ME feel better. Also, maybe chocolate nutrition shakes? Fruit smoothies?

  17. Anytime I hear of an issue w/ eating or feeding, I share the resource, Ellyn Satter-she is a feeding specialist, author. Her division of feeding responsibility makes good sense, it’s easy, it works. Check out one of her books, Child of Mine is the one I read, and I have a 2nd the title of which is escaping me. But regardless, Ellyn Satter gets kids. She has a website too.

    I’m glad she’s doing better!

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