F.E.A.S.T's Around The Dinner Table forum

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My friend has a 7-yr-old d who is crying every evening that her tummy is fat. She is a bigger kid than her friends, yet definitely not overweight by any measure. No apparent restrictions going on nor compulsive exercise. Is on the same historic growth curve as always.

Obviously my friend is trying to give her positive body messaging, and I've also suggested she rethink some of "healthy eating" rules at their home and reframe them in terms of "balance" and definitely not demonizing any foods. (Friend saw us go through RAN with teen daughter, so she knows my views on all this.) I also told her the prevailing wisdom here that if there is any possibility whatsoever of AN, increasing calories is the best course. Plan is to visit pediatrician as well.

Is this the tragedy of "normal" girl development or does anyone with a young d have suggestions or anecdotal wisdom?
Hi EC Mum, this is so sad to hear.

My daughter got terrified of being fat at age 7 and was diagnosed with anorexia shortly after she turned 8. She never got very underweight, but was physically unstable nonetheless. With refeeding, the distorted body image went away completely and now she is noticeably bigger than she was pre-AN, but has no body concerns at all.

I realise it may very well be a different kind of situation for your friend’s daughter. I would definitely encourage them to rethink the healthy eating message, as you have done. I got both my girls excused from healthy eating classes at school too...maybe that’s an option.

So I guess it could well be a tragedy of ‘normal’ girl development, and I don’t think the healthy eating/anti-obesity agendas have helped one bit. I’ve read that there is an increase in EDs among very young kids, and this makes sense in the context of the fat-shaming, fear-fuelling world we live in. It breaks my heart.

I think you gave your friend really good advice x

Hi EC-Mum,

I think these stories might be interesting for your friend.

Warm wishes,

2015 12yo son restricting but no body image issues, no fat phobia; lost weight IP! Oct 2015 home, no progress. Medical hosp to kick start recovery Feb 2016. Slowly gaining at home, seeing signs of our real kid.

May 2017 Hovering around WR. Mood great, mostly. Summer 2017 Happy, first trip away in years, food variety, begin socialising. Sept 2017, back to school FT first time in 2 years. 2018 growing so fast hard to keep pace with weight. 2020 Off to university, healthy and happy.
  • Swedish proverb: Love me when I least deserve it because that's when I need it most.
  • We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence Recovery, then, is not an act but a habit. Aristotle.
  • If the plan doesn't work, change the plan but never the goal.
  • We cannot control the wind but we can direct the sail.