Born Skinny

I gotta be honest. And don’t hate me. But I was born skinny. I can give you a list of flaws and faults that I’ve got from here to to China– bad skin, honker nose, only-child syndrome, and the list goes on and on. But I haven’t struggled with my weight for a day in my life. I put on 40 pounds with both pregnancies. It took me a year to take the weight off, but I did, both times, with little effort. I returned to my ever-steady, 5’8″ frame, 117 pounds. And the kicker? I eat like a horse.

(Since turning 35 last year, I have noticed a depressing change in my metabolism, but we’ll save that for another day).

But for the sake of this post…

Me? Born skinny.

My husband? Born Skinny.

My 7 year old? Born skinny.

My 4 year old? Born solid.

And I would like to clarify, that “skinny” is not a term that I value. At all. If you follow this blog, you know this about me. I’d take fat and happy any day over skinny and miserable.  But I’m using it today so you understand a new issue that has arisen in our home. When I say “skinny” in this post, I mean having no weight issue. No struggle with food.

It was cute when our good friends would call our 4 year old “Beef Cake” cuz he was such a solid little baby; we all laughed. After all, remember, it was no insult– I was “skinny,” my husband was “skinny,” our eldest son was “skinny.” He would be skinny too.

And I would like to clarify, this beautiful blond-haired, green-eyed boy, is by no means overweight. AT ALL. He just doesn’t have our build. He’s solid.

We feed our kids very healthy food (okay we don’t miss McDonald’s every 2 months, me included, but overall, healthy) . We exercise. We eat organic. We lead a busy, and not sedentary lifestyle. But I notice my 4 year old lately, with a truly revved up appetite. I can’t fault him, he has my appetite. My father’s appetite.

Like, after giving him a good dinner, followed by fresh fruit every night for desert, 5 minutes later, again, “I want a night snack.” This kid wants a morning snack, an afternoon snack, an evening snack. It’s constant. I find myself for the first time frustrated and saying, “You just ate five minutes ago! Fine, you can have a healthy snack like applesauce, or some DRY cereal.” And him replying, “I want cereal AND milk….” Who wants cereal AND MILK TOO after wolfing down a big burger, broccoli, pineapple and banana– when you’re four and your stomach is small?

I don’t want to create any food issues whatsoever. I have none. We all have none. But I also want to feed him when he’s hungry. If my kids are hungry for dinner at 4:30, I feed them. I’d rather give them a good meal, instead of stalling them with snacks. It’s the way I was brought up, and as a result, I have a loving relationship with food. And I want to offer him healthy choices. But I feel as his parent, I need to put the breaks on, if it’s getting out of hand. If your kid asked for food all day, you wouldn’t just give it to him, right? But he’s snack obsessed.

So, ladies, today the tables have turned. I am not offering my expertise today, but instead seeking yours. For the moms who struggle with food issues in the home, can you offer me some tips? I don’t want to deprive him of the food he loves, but I don’t want to overfeed him either. I am really on the fence with this one.

Is it a growth spurt, and I give him those snacks when he claims he’s hungry (which trust me, he can’t be), or do I hold back? I have found myself annoyed with the constant requests. I need your help.

Signed,

Frustrated

25 Comments
  1. I have a child that is quite similar. She eats a whole meal and 10 minutes later says she is starving and can eat again. Not necessarily sweets. With all of my children when events such as you describe have occurred it often indicates they are in a growth spurt. I try to give them night snacks that are lower on the glycemic index so as not to promote a sweet tooth or more snacking as the night goes on. Try edamame, nuts, soy nuts, peanut butter on celery, raw veggies. Another suggestion is herbal teas in flavors that they like. My kids love it when after dinner we all make a cup of tea. Go to the tea store, buy loose teas and make it fun. Good luck!! PS You are soooo incredibly lucky you have always been “skinny”.

  2. If the snacks/food is healthy and not full of preservatives, additives and chemicals…then he should eat!! Offer plenty of fruits and veggies, let him help make it too. Don’t make a big deal about HOW much he eats. At this age he’s not eating from “issues” (like adults, not me of course;). I really wouldn’t worry about it! (I have ages 6 months through teen). Sounds pretty normal to me! LOL 🙂

  3. no advice,.. but, lucky you were born naturally fit healthy digestive system! I know that I was born w/small frame and than as I got older I gained and all the carbs pop were added to my diet just as teens tend to over indulge in the taste junk rather than fresh veggies. I lost about 40/45 pounds all through exercise and proper nutrition after my second daughter was born w/many issues. Watching her strength to survive as a teeny baby gave me courage to become fit. I have kept off the weight for the past three years and realize how important food is in maintaining a healthy weight, not eating less exercising more. I found that I need protein to sustain my energy, and since I am not into huge meaty meals… I will eat an apple, or banana and peanut butter (I try to do almond butter but, wf’s peanut butter tastes so much better!). I know that a huge part of not binge eating is psychological so I notice when I tend to be more hungry I eat more and try not to worry about it.. as worry isn’t healthy can lead to weight gain (hormones). My eldest is skinnier than my youngest but, my youngest eats better nutritionally and more often and has a curvy girl body. I really believe this society over emphasizes importance of being skinny/fit rather than internally healthy. I learned my allergies to certain foods I crave more than others which bloat me and how hard it is to not crave them. I also believe we are all not meant to be teeny and that too skinny isn’t attractive or necessarily healthy.. I found myself trying to find things for my oldest to eat when she wasn’t so much into food. I find it tends to be a phase with my daughters they eat good, than not so great than junky.. and I just try not to worry or deny them too much. I do allow my eldest who doesn’t eat well to have that bedtime snack if she asks since I don’t want her to not sleep well.. hungry. Altho, I did let my youngest who isn’t so much into sugar but, isn’t skinny.. eat whatever she wants and yesterday she denied a kit kat a teacher gave her and asked for a tiny peanut butter cup cake at a birthday party everyone else was eating huge cupcakes. I tend not to hold back on food requests… I often think of bread and jam for francis (the wonderful kids book).

  4. As you stated in the post you have a healthy lifestyle and eat healthy foods. If the little guy wants a snack or is hungry it is because his little body is growing at such a fast rate that his body needs the energy. Boys are usually born very solid and aren’t neccessarily “string beans”. Boys also have a tendancy to be “bigger” eaters. Their metabolism rate is outrageous! There is a reason why you hear moms say “he ate everything but the kitchen sink”. It really sounds like your little guy is getting ready for a big growth spurt. He certainly isn’t of the age to be eating because of an emotional issue and he is so darn cute! I really wouldn’t worry too much at this point he looks very happy and healthy.

  5. He is 4. If he is hungry feed him, if he is just eating because he is bored say no. Distract him and see if he comes back still starving. My son is now 19 so 17 or 18 yrs ago I never worried about the healthy organic etc foods. Yes I fed him his veggies, meat, fruits, milk etc but occasionally he got the Mcdonalds and Jack and Jill ice cream but he is a healthly, good eater with a beanpole body and was a chunky baby. Stop stressing you will do what feels right, just like everything else in his life. I think TV and news put more pressure on mothers these days and they are going overboard already on weight issues with their children. If you continue to feed him healthy he will eat healthy when he is older. We all make our choices and he will too.
    BTW your son is ADORABLE!!!! You are doing great, you will do what feels right to you!

  6. Just found your blog and I love it! I really appreciate this post because I too was born skinny and have never struggled with weight issues. I’ve never been fat, or even chubby for that matter. I’ve never been bulemic or anorexic or had body issues. Sure, I try to eat healthy and workout but I know that if I skip the gym for 2 weeks and eat a ton of fried food, it won’t make a bit of difference. I say this because I currently write a healthy food blog and find that I often feel out of place among my food blogging peers who focus on healthy eating because they once struggled with their weight. They offer inspirational stories of how to get fit and stay fit. I just like to eat healthy food! Somehow, I feel that my message as a healthy food blogger is undermined because I haven’t struggled with weight, thus I don’t have as much to offer and cannot relate to my readers. Anyhoo, thanks for reminding me that it’s not me and that some of us are just born skinny!

  7. My son and daughter do the same thing when they are going through growth spurts. It feels crazy because you can’t keep up. My young son will even eat 2 sandwiches at lunch with all the other food I offer. What I do is feed them, even though I’m shaking my head thinking how this is possible. Sometimes it is weeks before their appetite returns to a more normal amount, but it always in time goes back. Just keep doing what you do, trying to make the food healthy options. Giant bowls of oatmeal, fruit, and a scoop of peanut butter really help my kids during those times. Keep us posted. Have a great day! 🙂

  8. He’s only 4. It’s probably a growth spurt. My 9 yr old boy still does as your lil guy. He’s a skinny boy, but I have a 9 yr old girl with weight and food issues….each child is a unquie individual.

  9. Erica,

    Keep doing what you’re doing. My son is 16 now and over 6 feet. He has a very healthy appetite. I’ve been through quite a few growth spurts at this point. Healthy snacks is the key. I found keepig meals and snacks separate was a great way to keep schedule. Of course with busy schedules (hockey, soccer, biking) there always should be sufficient amount of healthy snacks around. Just keep it up. Keeping meal schedule is important as well. That way kid’s body knows when it’s time for a snack and when it’s time for a meal.

    Good luck with that.

    Olga

  10. I think you’re doing all the right stuff. A 4-yr old (and yours looks gorgeous & healthy, by the way) is a very good judge of what his body needs–he hasn’t (yet) been subjected to all our societal stuff about emotional eating & other unhealthy issues related to food. It sounds like you’ve done a great job of providing lots of healthy options (while not being obsessive–McDonald’s once in a while it *totally* fine in my book). Howevaah…it’s not a bad idea to keep close tabs on his growth. If he’s hitting growth milestones normally, and his body is proportional, and his BMI is in the healthy range, then you’re all good! So, of course (being a family doc myself) I would recommend regular checks with your GP. That being said, height/weight is a very easy thing to monitor yourself, at home, and then you can easily calculate his BMI. Handy little tool here to do this for ya: http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/dnpabmi/

  11. Thank you all for your kind words. As moms, we just want the best for our children. I will try some of your suggestions! Thank you again. I’m loving all your input.

  12. I was babysitting a young girl once, she was around 7, I guess. I had been warned by her parents that she would want to eat again before she went to bed. Okay, whatever. She had dinner, and then a little while later, she wanted a bowl of cereal. I gave it to her. Then later, before bed, she wanted another bowl of cereal! I said no, and forced her into bed. About 3 am, the entire house (I was sleeping over) awoke to the screams and yells of this little girl crying and screaming that her stomach was empty! I felt so bad. Her parents fed her.

    She is adult now. And NOT a small woman.

  13. If you were feeding him unhealthy junk just because he’s hungry then that would be a problem but you seem to have it under control. I’m skinny too (5’9″ tall 120lbs skinny frame) and so are both my kids however they eat like theres no tomorrow. They also like morning afternoon and evening snacks (as long as they are healthy I don’t mind) at that age, it’s just a matter of food-to-grow in most cases 🙂 he’s gorgeous by the way! So cute!

  14. What a beautiful boy! I have four boys who are much older now, but all had different eating habits. What you have on your hands is a grazer and grazing is natural. It is actually the healthiest way to eat as it keeps our metabolism revving all day which means the calories get burned off more efficiently as well. We are born grazers (wanting to eat every 2-3 hrs) but then taught to eat three meals per day. This tends to promote over eating at these times as we are usually quite starving. This is why any nutritionist will tell you to eat every 2 1/2-3 hrs if trying to lose or maintain weight. However… there is nothing wrong in teaching him portion control and to wait a little for the snacks. If he is eating a big snack or meal every hour his tummy will get used to that, so try and stretch it out a bit. I suggest you give him a time. Let’s say dinner finishes at 6pm, tell him that snack time is at 8:30 (before bed). And then he knows it is coming and will wait a little. And you are teaching him good lifelong habits. And you are not in the kitchen all the time….. (like you’re not anyway)

    Hope this helps! 🙂

  15. I give Body Image/Eating Disorder workshops at elementary and high schools as well as parent groups and I can tell you that the first thing you need to do is make sure he understands that it’s OK for him to look a little different from the rest of you. He IS different, he’s his own person. He needs to understand the difference between being hungry and just wanting to eat. If you truly feel that he’s had enough, then maybe you can find a way to keep him busy until it’s time to eat again..so many people eat out of boredom..even kids.

    If he’s still hungry, ask him what he’s hungry for. I know you mentioned that you eat “Healthy” which is great..but maybe what he’s eating isn’t satisfying a craving he’s having.

    I think that as long as he’s active and he can learn to LISTEN to his body..he’ll be fine. I think maybe you should watch him a bit longer..it’s so normal for you to worry (we ALL do) but this could be just the way his body works..maybe he’s built differently and therefore needs to eat differently.

    The focus should ALWAYS be on health, not weight. If he feels good, has energy and is developing properly, he should be fine.

    I hear from boys all the time who are suffering because they either feel that they are either too small or too big..boys are the forgotten victims of eating disorders so it’s crucial that we help them grow up healthy physically, emotionally and spiritually.

    http://www.fitvsfiction.com

    Love your posts!

  16. Hi Erica,
    He looks healthy and very cute, but you’re worried, so it is an issue. You didn’t say how long you felt this has been an issue for. To put your mind at rest, how about a full bank of blood tests- and get a copy. If the blood work is okay- each of the measurements should be in middle of the scale. – Because its carbs he’s craving, I would pay close attention to the 3 thyroid tests (T3, T4, and TSH is how they appear on the test)-for thyroid function and the sugar tests- for diabetes. The thyroid controls metabolism, and diabetes messes with blood sugar.
    I’m suggesting that you get a copy and read it- as we discovered issues our Doc missed, by looking at it ourselves.

  17. Your four year old looks like a cute, healthy little boy. You haven’t mentioned if you observed weight gain, like more then normal weight gain? Kids go through stages, and it might be a temporarily thing. My oldest son eat all the time 🙂 a lot …he is 15 tall and skinny. My identical twins … one was born skinny, the other one solid – to go with your definition. The skinny one eats little and picky like crazy, the solid one eats a lot all the time … they have the same weight and it’s only one inch difference in their height.

    It’s hard to understand how they all have different eating habits. Have a test on him, just to make sure he doesn’t have any health issues and follow his weight gain patterns. It might be just a temporary thing, or he might have a crazy metabolism and burns everything. Being little fuller then you all are, doesn’t mean he is overweight. He is different then the 3 of you, but that might be his healthy way. We all are different. I guess this is for you mommy, to see something different.
    Anyhow he is adorable.

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