View Full Version : "I'm huuunngryyyyy...."

04-16-2011, 04:23 PM
This is what I hear all day long from my seven year old. :unsure: I'm not sure what to think about it or how to handle it.

For background, she is 75 lbs, and I'm not sure of her exact height, but I know she is shorter than most of the seven year old girls in our church, several of whom are younger than her. She wears a size 8 if we are lucky and it is a loose fit (like the Land's End knit dresses), but a 10/12 if it is something more fitted (like the St. Patrick's day shirt I bought her).

For breakfast (between 7am and 8am), she normally eats at least three bowls of cereal - and they aren't super small servings, at least a half a cup to a cup each time. She may or may not have a piece of fruit with this. I can guarantee about thirty minutes later the refrain from the subject line will start. It will continue, with much whining and heavy sighing, and possibly even tears, until we get a snack around 10:30. A snack might be two handfuls (my handfuls of pretzels, not hers), several graham crackers, a piece of fruit, etc. She is almost never satisfied after finishing her snack, and is normally continuing to beg for more food. This will continue until lunch time, where she will eat two sandwiches, and often ask for more - doesn't matter what type of sandwich... Turkey and cheese, peanut butter and jelly, always on whole wheat. Today for lunch she had a bowl of chicken noodle soup, a small bowl of green beans (about half a cup?), and kept begging for me. She ended up also eating a clementine, and a piece of bread, and she was still not satisfied, but stopped begging so often. The whining will commence full force any time now. We will have another snack between lunch and dinner, and she will whine on and off until dinner, which is between 5 and 6. At dinner, she may eat one to three helpings of whatever we are having (for reference, she can eat 2-4 pieces of pizza). And then she is begging for a dessert (which we almost never do.).

*sigh* Am I mean to just make her wait??? Am I not feeding her enough? Why is she never satisfied...? She is also a slow eater, so it seems like meals take foooorrreeever.

And I will be very honest and say I am really worried about her weight, and while I don't want to put her on a diet or any such thing, I feel like if I let her eat as often as she wanted to she would really hurt her health. And I don't really want to increase my grocery budget that much right now either!

It was so much easier when they were babies! I just nursed them whenever and didn't worry about it. :sad:

Nancy Ann
04-16-2011, 04:51 PM
Children's weight will fluctuate up and down and she is very young and the height and weight guidelines are just a guide. A child can be a bit heavy one month and than have a growth spurt. So, when my son keeps saying he is hungry I let him eat, I just make sure it's healthy. If he is really hungry than he will eat a banana, or other fruit or a healthy sandwich. When he goes in these spurts of being really hungry all the time I am careful about foods like crackers or other similar snack type foods.

04-16-2011, 04:59 PM
I know children's weight can fluctuate, but since she's been three she has always been heavy - she was over 40 lbs by then. And both sides of our families have weight issues.

And they are now really emphasizing the role that being overweight can play in early puberty :unsure:

I'm not sure what to do, but her weight has been an ongoing issue, and at this point I feel like it is something she is going to continue to struggle with, not something she is going to grow out of....

I hope I don't sound like one of "those" moms who wants their kids to look like a barbie doll or something. I just want her to be healthy, and I am very careful not too let on to her that I am worried about her weight in any way.

04-16-2011, 05:31 PM
I don't have girls, but this is what I would do with my boys. At that age, I wouldn't allow them to have 2-3 bowls of cereal at breakfast. I know when I eat cereal {although I'm not a cereal eater, but my boys are}, I seem to be hungry much sooner than when I eat something more substantial, like eggs, oatmeal, cream of wheat, etc. Also a protein with breakfast will be more filling than just carbohydrates.
For lunch I would only allow her to have one sandwich, with soup or fruit or raw veggies and dip. If she is still hungry, I would make sure she is getting fruit or veggies, not more bread.
For snacks, I would choose several different kinds and put them in ziplocs for the day. For example, cheese cubes or sticks, some graham crackers, grapes, goldfish, etc. Let her know that those are her snacks for the day. When they are gone, they are gone.
Does she have enough chores and activities to keep her occupied during the day, so she's not thinking about eating and food? She sounds like she may be bored, or she has just gotten into the habit of wanting to eat all day.
If you have given her 3 balanced meals, along with healthy snacks, you are not being mean by making her wait, and you are right to limit her not eating whenever she wants. {Also, no begging, no whining, no sighing, and no tears when you tell her no. :-)

Laura F
04-16-2011, 05:47 PM
Melissa, she doesn't seem to be getting much protein at breakfast. Adding a healthy protein to that meal should help with the whining and hunger in the morning. Also, if you're worried about her weight, add veggies to her meal to help fill her up. She probably is--or thinks she is--hungry, so your job is to fill her up with good stuff that will control her hunger and not add unnecessary pounds.

ETA: I reread my post and don't mean to sound like it's an easy solution. My kids can whine about wanting to eat, too, since we're home so much. Distraction is a good thing, too! Mine aren't as hungry when they're outside playing.

04-16-2011, 05:47 PM
I don't think you are mean at all, I think it's an important issue to be concerned about. I would increase protein to keep her satisfied. Also, maybe have her eat small meals every two to three hours to avoid double and triple helpings at regular meal times. I think it's okay to have a sliced turkey at 10am or a greek yogurt, or something like that which might seem more "meal like" then snack like, but will prevent the binging at meals, if she is really hungry a piece of fruit might not be enough to hold her over. I agree with Alicia about more substance at breakfast, cereal isn't very filling. Steel cut oats are great, eggs, or pancakes made with whole grain flour all seem to be a bit more filling for my kids then cereal. We give our children smoothies made with whey protein powder as a snack and sometimes a meal, it really keeps them full for a few hours and we add lots of fruit for nutrition.

Rachel Jane
04-16-2011, 05:56 PM

This is a great program for feeding your children well. It emphasizes not dieting but letting your child grow into her weight.

Carrie Bozeman
04-16-2011, 05:57 PM
I would definitely say add more protein to her meals. Cereal, even fairly healthy ones are mostly carbs and sugar and don't stick that long (just my opinion). For breakfasts, I would do a scrambled egg with a little cheese and some turkey or ham (lunch meat) added in. An almond butter and banana sandwich on whole wheat. Or dinner leftovers if she enjoys that, assuming there's a protein in the leftovers.

Snacks would be mostly fruit & veggies with some whole grain crackers, fiber one has good ones or wheat thins even with a little peanut butter, almond butter or a reduced fat string cheese. (if she loves peanut butter, a great product out there PB2 is dehydrated peanut butter powder that he oil has been taken out of, you add water and create a paste and it tastes like peanut butter without the super greasy creaminess and is 1/3 of the fat and calories & it comes in chocolate peanut as well! Mmmm!)

Another thought to try is having her drink a glass of water anytime she's hungry before she gets a snack. It's good for her, it'll fill her tummy a little before the snack and they say that sometimes you're really thirsty when you feel hungry.

Just a few thoughts, I'm sure it's a hard line to balance ... don't feel badly about making her wait. Talk it over with her ped. They usually have good insight as to wether the child is healthy or not and they would also know if you're feeding her a normal amount or a lot of food.

Do you have her in sports? Or in active situations ... that would make me feel better about giving more food if I knew they were at least being active.

Kendra AU
04-16-2011, 06:22 PM
:group: We have a child who can be like that IF he doesn't eat properly rounded meals. It takes a bit more planning, but it's worth it.

This means he needs eggs for breakfast or meat. If he has cereal whey {not soy} protein powder will help "beef" the meal up. I might give him a waffle with fruit {fresh or tinned not in syrup} cut up on it with maple syrup but I also give him a scrambled egg. He might have a nice big bowl of oatmeal but it's made with milk to increase the protein and it always has fruit with it. No sugar, but I do put a bit of maple syrup on it.

If I give this particular child a bowl of cereal, no matter how fibre laden it might be it's not gonna fill him up for long. In general we don't eat cereal in our home.

If he has a sandwich for lunch it must have nut butter or a healthy serving of lean meats in it. He'll also get cut up veggies {not just one, but several.. peppers, carrots, cukes or salad} and sometimes an additional carb {pretzels or chips, but not often}

If he has a carb style snack {granola bar, pretzels, graham crackers} I match it with protein. Cheese with the crackers, yogurt with the granola bar {homemade which is made with stevia and honey or maple syrup not sugar}, peanut butter with the graham crackers. No matter what carb and protein he has we give our a fruit and/or veggie with the snack.

In order to help your daughter make the transition you'd need to really bump up the protein, and you could try less food more often. In other words, one bowl of cereal and then an hour later perhaps a half pb sandwich and a glass of milk. At normal snack time some yogurt or cheese or a handful or nuts with a piece of fruit and perhaps a carrot. An hour or two after that give her lunch making sure, again, that she has an adequate serving of protein balanced out with a carb {while I know fruit is a carb I don't usually categorise the fruit as such for meals}, also giving her her veggies at lunch will help fill her up lots! You could then repeat the snack with her before tea time and only having two small snacks in the afternoon if she does some form of physical exercise {bike riding, trampoline jumping, running around being a kid, etc.} If she is up and moving she'll burn use up what she eats quicker. ;)

Remember, giving her fruit first will help her fill up quicker and allow her to feel fuller sooner. Also, having her drink water between meals and snacks will have the same effect. ;) Fruit juices aren't as effective for that, we usually reserve fruit juice to one cup a day and/or for taking medicine/vitamins with.

04-16-2011, 06:57 PM
That's what I immediately noticed, too. This girl is eating mostly carbs. That won't keep her feeling full for long. My kids eat a good portion of protein at every meal. We are very careful about having some protein with our carbs. I personally eat lower carbs now and have cured my indigestion and sleepiness (and lost over 20 lbs as a bonus).

They drink water often and skim milk. I only buy 100% juice and they only have 1 cup a day. Fruits and veggies are always with meals and are also a snack option, but again ... with a little protein. For example, a banana with 6 almonds, an apple with a string cheese...

Their snacks are mainly protein:

nuts (peanuts, almonds, walnuts, filberts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds)
string cheese
hard boiled egg out of the bowl in the fridge
spoonful of peanut butter
protein bar

Let us know if it makes a difference to rebalance her foods between fats, carbs and proteins?? I'm curious...

04-16-2011, 10:22 PM
Agreeing with the others who mentioned increasing proteins. I know when my kids eat carbs only,they get hungry again soon.(and so do I)
Instead of 3 bowls of cereal,a whole grain bread w/peanut butter or eggs with oatmeal might help her to feel full.
Cheese ,yogurt or nuts as a snack instead of pretzels.,etc.Maybe instead of giving her 2nd helpings,offer a glass of water first,often thirst is mis-read by our bodies as hunger.
Let us know how it goes.

04-16-2011, 10:37 PM
Just last night I heard a mom say a little friend was visiting and said "When I am bored I get hungry." The mom responded, "Well, we need to find something for you to DO!" :lol:

04-17-2011, 01:00 PM
I agree that she needs more protein in the morning. An egg and nut butter on toast and a side of fruit are much more filling than cereal. A turkey and cheese sandwich would also be fine for breakfast. For morning snacks apple slices and nut butter, cheese and whole grain crackers, or yogurt with or without granola would be more filling than pretzels or crackers.

Vegetables are good for her. Let her eat as many raw or lightly steamed vegetables as your budget can handle. (Carrots are cheap.) You could try having her drink a glass of water when she asks for between meal snacks. If she is still hungry 10 minutes later, give her an appropriate snack. A 10 or 15 minute walk can also help curb boredom phantom hunger.

Cindy in CA
04-18-2011, 07:26 PM
Curious how you are doing. My ds is always hungry too, but more so when it is school time or I ask him to do a job around the house. Today we are on spring break, and it was me asking him if he was hungry, he didn't mention a thing because he was busy doing fun stuff today. Later, after lunch, when I asked him to vacuum, he said he was hungry and didn't have enough for lunch. :unsure:

You got a lot of great advice and filling meal and snack ideas. Thank you for posting, it was a good reminder for me too. It is so hard to know sometimes what is true hunger, boredom, stalling, or perhaps thirst. :group::group:


Chalane (FL)
04-18-2011, 09:28 PM
If after bumping up the protein in her diet she still says she is hungry you might consider asking her pediatrician for a referral to a dietitian. They may be able to look at several days/week worth of diet logs and look for solutions.

My youngest ds doesn't have the I'm full signal like most of us do so I have to be aware of his portions.

IMHO it's great that your being recognize the issue and are trying to come to a solution.

04-18-2011, 11:27 PM
Thanks for all the great advice and response, everyone!

I don't think it is boredom. I get "I'm hungry" while doing schoolwork, watching tv, playing in her room, playing outside, at Mimi's house. It doesn't seem to matter what is going on or how busy she is.

This morning was better, and I'm not sure which was the contributing factor. We were running behind this morning, so we got breakfast out. She had a sausage biscuit. We didn't get home until close to lunch, so she had a banana while I fixed lunch. No complaining up to this point :clap: For lunch I gave her a half a sandwich with several pieces of turkey and a slice of cheese on it, plus half an apple, and four baby carrots. And she was satisfied. For a snack we did a handful of pretzels with a serving of cheese cubes. She asked for more, but wasn't to unhappy when I told her no, and didn't complain again until dinner. Oh, and I made sure to round out her chicken taco with some veggies. ;)

I'm going to work on making sure we get protein at breakfast, and better rounded meals and snacks and see what happens. I'm not a morning person, and I've never been good at eating breakfast, so it's so easy to just let the kids fix themselves cereal (normally plan cheerios, unless dh buys the cereal and gets sugary stuff).

04-19-2011, 12:13 AM
I always feed my kids if they say they are hungry, unless it's 15 minutes or less before a meal. However, if I offer a healthy choice or two, and it's refused, they aren't really hungry.

I would ditch almost all of the refined carbs. So cereal for breakfast, nope. But a homemade granola with wheat germ or eggs, yes. Sandwiches with white bread, nope, but they can have wheat. Graham crackers are almost pure sugar.

It sounds like your DD needs more protein and fiber, and way less carbs. Most people do, LOL!