My 9 year old put herself on a diet!! What now?
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Post Sun, Jun 20 2021, 8:11 am
Id assume a phase unless you see more serious warning signs.
Maybe a teacher said something in school?
Or a friend?
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Post Sun, Jun 20 2021, 8:20 am
It could not be an eating disorder, but I feel it could easily turn into one if she thinks you TOTALLY don't get it.
Let's say she has thin friends who made comments at her weight and that's what this is all about. So she decided she needs to lose weight and figured out the secret is eating less junk and to overall eat less.
Now she sees that her parents TOTALLY don't understand her need to eat healthier and less because they keep trying to force her to eat more.
This will cause her to keep all her feelings to herself and try to hide everything about this issue from you since you are not understanding her.

Rather you should be on her team. Totally pretend to ignore her food intake (obviously still keep an eye out) make healthy foods with her. Give her tonss of extra love.

There are so many variables you need to consider. Who her friends are.
If there are any dysfunctions you don't know about in school or in your home.
What her hobbies are.
How her teachers are treating her.

I don't think SHE necessarily needs to meet a professional since that might amplify things but at this point, you definitely do.
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Post Sun, Jun 20 2021, 9:37 am
If you can't win 'em, join them.

There's no need to push her to eat unhealthy foods. You. can encourage healthy eating habits by joining her on this journey. Praise her awareness and together with her come up with good wholesome foods that you can prepare together.

Don't make this into a power struggle, that will for sure backfire.

Just my inexperienced, but sensible (I hope) thoughts.
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Post Sun, Jun 20 2021, 10:02 am
Does she herself refer to it as a diet? Is her intention to lose weight or is it to be more health-conscious? Is she losing weight? I know you are asking what you should do but what I would do now would depend on the answers to those questions.
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Post Sun, Jun 20 2021, 10:28 am
You can't "encourage" (=force) anyone to eat things they don't want to eat. Your husband must understand this. Kids remember every single critical thing their parents told them about food, no matter how "encouraging" and "motivational" they think they're being. If you're trying to change your child's behavior by commenting on what they are or aren't eating, it'll most likely backfire. I remember every time my father asked if I really need that second piece of cake, when my grandmother "innocently" encouraged me to go outside and run around. It doesn't help, it only hurts.

Have you tried having a conversation with her that comes out of a position of curiosity and support? Have you asked her what she's trying to do and what her goals are?
I'd start a conversation like this:
Hey Shaindy, I noticed that you're eating a bit differently now, that you want me to buy more fruit and that you're avoiding some foods. Could you tell me more about what you're trying to do? Are there any other foods you want me to buy or prepare? Are there things you want to learn about food or nutrition that I could help you find out? I'd love to help.
Then listen. Ask only clarifying questions. Don't try to prove anything, or educate her. You're on a fact finding mission only. Do this when you're alone have plenty of time, and there's no food involved.
After you have a bit more info then you'll have more clarity on whether you need to speak to a professional and what kind.
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Post Sun, Jun 20 2021, 10:29 am
Unless she is exipiting other weird tendencies or OCD I’d ignore.
I wouldn’t be rushing her to nutritionist or therapist. Or taking her to ice cream.
I’d work on finding the most food for her she is happy eating and making sure she is eating a healthy and balanced menu.
Sit down make a list of food she wants to eat and menu ideas.
To me eating less cake, cookies, and candy wouldn’t alarm me. It’s if she stops eating larger food groups
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Post Sun, Jun 20 2021, 10:38 am
I agree with cerulean and spikta. I'm curious if someone did a "nutrition presentation" she's responding to and about talking to her supportively to figure out what's up... might even be as innocent as her realizing too much xyz hurts her tummy and she feels better eating abc, but being young she might need a little help refining those parameters
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Post Sun, Jun 20 2021, 11:21 am
amother [ Narcissus ] wrote:
Just a quick reply to say that eating disorders in children this young are usually pandas/lyme. This happened in my house. Thank Hashem we caught it in time before my child needed hospitalization. Please see a lyme/pandas literate doctor asap.
Came here to say the same thing. Dr. Shulman once said that any restrictive eating pre puberty should be a big red flag for pandas. Not saying this is for sure am eating disorder, but especially if it’s a child with other anxious, ocd, perfectionist, restrictive tendencies, I would keep my eyes wide open.
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Post Sun, Jun 20 2021, 11:54 am
amother [ Obsidian ] wrote:
This sounds very concerning and like it could become dangerous very quickly. No 9 year old should be on a diet. If I were you, I would take her to an eating disorder therapist/doctor to rule out an eating disorder. If it’s nothing, you’ll get reassurance that your daughter is doing well and is healthy, but if it is a legitimate concern, you’ll be able to take care of it before it becomes ingrained in your daughter’s personality.
If you’re worried about exposing a nine year old to all this, I wouldn’t worry as the most effective therapy you can probably do for an eating disorder, IF that’s what it is, is parent led eating disorder treatment, where you’d be learning how to teach her to eat properly.
If you need help finding resources, I’d be happy to share with you!

Take her to a specialist
Let them tell you it’s ok , she’s fine
Your pediatrician might not know enough to pick it up
If you catch this early enough it’s easy to take care of it right away at home
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Post Sun, Jun 20 2021, 8:07 pm
I would personally be concerned.
From personal experience, that was me at age 9 and by middle school I was diagnosed with Anorexia (BH, this story doesn't have a sad ending and things are looking pretty good at this point). This is abnormal behavior for a 9 year old.

Nip it in the bud. NOW.

Edited to add this:

In this case I think it would be much better to "overreact (being on the look out and perhaps speaking to her doctor)" than not react at all. If you take action and it turns out to be nothing, at least you're encouraging healthy behavior, most likely nothing bad will come of it. If you don't take action and it turns out to be something, then the situation will only (cvs) escalate.

Even if she claims her sudden healthy streak is for general health or wellbeing, I wouldn't buy it. She's 9 years old, a regular kid has little to no interest in nutritional facts. This behavior is too mature to be considered normal. Not to give you a faulty diagnosis of any kind, but the only children I would think would take particular interest in monitoring ingredients would be (most likely) a child with disordered eating, or perhaps OCD or someone on the spectrum.

From a fellow mother (NOT a professional in any way, though I do have experience with this), a good way to learn more about why this is happening is to try and get to the root of the cause. That will give you a lot of answers and assist in next steps (if any). Hatzlocho!
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Post Sun, Jun 20 2021, 8:22 pm
Is it about calories or being healthy? How does she define healthy? You can ask her. Maybe show her the food pyramid. Be open to her cutting back on sweets. Encourage protein and whole wheat etc. I know a family that when the mother started a new diet, her children became more aware of what they ate, maybe a friend is dieting? Or a teacher? I do approve of many of the ideas already mentioned.
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