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My Daughter Has a Horribly Unhealthy Relationship With Food

Slate
 2021-06-14

Cover picture for the articleCare and Feeding is Slate’s parenting advice column. Have a question for Care and Feeding? Submit it here or post it in the Slate Parenting Facebook group. I have a concern that is very delicate, and I don’t know how to address it with my daughter—or if I should address it. My daughter spent kindergarten through fifth grade struggling with her weight. She was always underweight, and she refused to eat a lot because she didn’t want to look like me. (I’m overweight, but I generally eat healthy food and exercise daily, which she sees.) She saw nutritionists and specialists, but it was a difficult road for my daughter, and she didn’t want to eat more. In elementary school, another student told her she was fat and she believed this child. When we moved, she appeared more comfortable and was eating better, though her weight was still in the 10th percentile. Like many people, she was deeply affected by COVID. She became more depressed and began using food for consolation. She has put on over 30 pounds, but given her prior low weight, she is now at a healthy weight for her height. She loves yoga, but only does it a few times a week and will only go for a walk or ride bikes with friends, not me. I’m worried she’s going to continue to gain weight, and then she will suddenly stop eating again, but I’m also worried if I say something, she will stop eating again. Is there a good way to approach the subject without upsetting her to the point that she stops eating again? I keep snacks in the house, but I also have lots of fruit, milk, juice, and there is rarely soda in the house. Is there a sensitive way to address the amount of junk she is eating? I could stop buying the snacks, but I’m afraid if I don’t discuss this with her, she will just decide to stop eating. Or should I just not address this at all?

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