My six year old has consistently lost weight in the past nine months. As I listen to the concerns of her health care provider, I nod my head in agreement and use my inside voice to express my frustration parenting around the issue of food. We started by taking her off processed foods and sugar to clean out her system, establishing a baseline. One month is simply not enough, so we continued with a healthier diet introducing less ‘toxic’ foods, but restricting foods that may impact sensory issues and attention.
As we started a trial of medication for hyperactivity and inattention, we were lucky if our girl ate a whole hotdog. By eight o’clock the first night, our daughter was glued to the kitchen table inhaling a day’s worth of food. Bed time was delayed and her difficulty sleeping became truly problematic. I assumed that her increased eating at night was making up for her finicky appetite the rest of the day. We soon realized she wasn’t touching her lunch and sleepily getting through a sparse breakfast.
For a while, the benefits outweighed the side effects. We were so excited by the emergence of our little girl virtually overnight and food was simply not as important at the time. She was speaking in one or two word exchanges, progressing to full conversations and up to five minutes at a time. She now plays with her brother, speaks in full sentences and even draws pictures rich with detail and story. During several meetings with the school, they proudly presented stories she’s written. A series of small miracles for our family.
Now on to the next challenge, the food fight. Potato chips, ramen noodles, and hotdogs. My six year old is on the college diet. The other day I fought my frustration when she insisted on eating strawberries and cantaloupe. I actually huffed in frustration that my child wanted to eat healthy. For a brief moment, I even had fantasies that we could switch and I could struggle to gain weight, eating saturated fats and sugar, whiling avoiding calorie-burning activities.
Her doctor’s visit today was a small victory. Our girl has maintained her weight for two full months. Considering she ran a 3K this week, that’s pretty awesome. The best way to celebrate is a pepperoni pizza, a nightmare for me, but a treat guaranteed to keep on the weight.