Compulsive eating

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Amity, Aug 29, 2017.

  1. Amity

    Amity New Member

    There is no denying it now. My 6yr old is Binge eating. I am in tears over this. I have always had body image issues and emotionally eat. So I have gone out of my way to keep my kids healthy and a healthy weight. I maybe big but they have always been slim. My son however has gone from size 4 last summer to a size 8/10 husky this summer.
    I serve meals filled with veggies, fruit, lean meats and whole grains often. I also allow treats. I just try to limit them to when we do something special like movies, the beach and holidays etc. during the day they get natural popcorn, yogurts and cheese sticks kinda snacks. HOWEVER I am finding empty food containers everywhere. Our new low is jars of peanut butter under the bed, empty creamer containers, baking chip bags discarded. I asked him very gently why they are there and he said, he was hungry. I noticed his scared behavior and just hugged him and ran here to project my fear!

    I have no way to lock up all our food and think that isn't the answer anyways. My son hasn't been diagnosed yet but I think maybe Atypical Autistic. High functioning but very emotionally charged and directed. He has a lot of fears. He doesn't handle change well and is very much compulsive. He likes to be active and often struggles to stop doing something that is fun. He loves electronics but it activates stiming (jumping in his case) and he acts almost agitated and flustered when you (force him) get him off. Now I allow this loved activity in only very short bursts to help him to keep control. He sneaks doing everything I don't want him to do and getting him to work on letters, numbers, or any type of academics are no goes.
    I have been reminding him almost every day that it is almost time to go back to school. He just gets all upset and tells me he wont go. I have learned not to fuss and make a big deal of stuff like this and the behavior will quickly dissipate (I have no way to homeschool him). I am only reminding him to help him come to terms. He doesn't handle stores so shopping together has been in small busts online but offers no excitement at the upcoming school year.
    I have decided that letting him eat at school is a bad idea. He doesn't do well with chocolate (of course it is the only milk he drinks at school) and when offered junk will eat and eat it. I have been Paleo myself and think maybe a trial run in this for him will help out. Maybe he isn't getting the fats he needs or something. I just don't know.

    I am working on getting him into see a behavioral pediatrician ASAP. Meanwhile, I am overwhelmed and feel like there has to be something I can do besides sit around and wait.
    Any Ideas???????
  2. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    More importantly than the eating, son has autism and is not getting autism intervetions for it. Behavioral therapy and interferring with stimming behaviors will not help your son one bit. He will still be and act autistic. He is not being "bad." He is neuroligically different and THIS is not being treated. It is not a good sign, for example, that he is 8 and still cant be in a store. My son got progressively better, but we had professional help for his autism. It cost us nothing but really helped.

    My son is 24 and doing great. He got Occupational Therapist (OT), physical therapy, speech and social skills, not a behavioral therapist. That wont help autistic kids or change youd son. ABA is good and this helps behavior and function in aufistics but does not assume the kids are misbehaving. They arent!! The school should have an IEP for him with autism interventions and school adjustments.

    The eating is part of the autism. Autism needs to be addressed as one whole neurological glitch. Many things can help, but forcing them to act "normal" just suppresses the neurological urges and they will come out in different behaviors. He needs help directly related to his challenge.

    That is what we did with our son and he is doing amazing and is on his own. I recommend pdofessionals who uderstand autism. Your son, by your description, sounds very typically autistic, high functioning. You are not qualified to know what to do about it nor was i.

    Autistics often have food aversions and cant eat certain textures. My son used to throw up if forced. He still wont eat veggies...being so, and in his own apartmrnt, he is quite overweight. He doesnt seem motivated to lose weight...maybe when he is older. Eating strangeness seems to be a part of many with autism. Perhaps your over concern about his eating is more about you than him. You seem overly involved in what he eats. You have a 23 year know you cant control everything your child eats and as they get older they eat more the way they want.

    Are you in therapy? If i had six kids and was a single mom, I would need therapy to help me cope!
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2017
  3. Crayola13

    Crayola13 Active Member

    I think it's good that you are sending him to the behavioral therapist. He may have depression. You mentioned his anxiety. Maybe the junk food helps soothe him.
  4. runawaybunny

    runawaybunny Administrator Staff Member

    Hello @Amity

    Great! You need to get a professional support system in place.

    I agree with SWOT. Take good care of yourself.

    Here are a few resources you may find interesting:

    Obesity in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

    A Multisite Investigation of Binge Eating Behaviors in Children and Adolescents

    Stanford Children's Health
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  5. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Anxiety is part and parel of autism. All autistic kids have anxiety.
  6. Littleboylost

    Littleboylost On the road unwanted to travel

    I completely agree this is a neurologically driven behaviour.

    And SWOT JH Murphy woman what have you not had to contend with?! Man oh man.
  7. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    My autistic son is an angel, a true loving gift from God. He never gave me trouble and I accepted him as he was and is. He is one of the most genuinely kind people I know. Everyone loves him. If he wants to lose weight one day, he will. He has learned to do most of his autistic brhaviors in his own apartment and not in public, he works, and has a great life.

    We worked hard with him to learn how to deal with his sensitivities and to accept himself and he does.

    I dont think it is a good idea to try to change a person who is wired differently. They can learn to change what they want to change with the correct professional help. Behavioral therapy is for psyhiatric problems, not neurological differences. It doesnt work on autism.

    I also make it a point not to focus on whether any of my kids have weight issues. All can decide to change their weight on their own, and they are still young. Too many kids, men too, develop eating disorders from our dwelling on their weight. An eating disorder can kill you young and it is very hard to ever overcome it once it is in you. So I dont bring up weight or try to force a special way of eating to lose weight on my kids..they wont follow that long term anyway and it can cause serious body image issues. Very serious mental health disorder. Autism is far more treatable than a body image disorder.
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  8. pigless in VA

    pigless in VA Well-Known Member


    I think he will need to be allowed to eat something at school. You can pack his lunch and snacks so that he has healthier options. I watched many kids eat 2 orders of French fries every day. My guess is that he is anxious over going back to school and is eating as a way to cope. Maybe since he's a boy and they love to be active, you can redirect the eating toward an activity. Don't forget that children grow at different rates.

    I'm really glad that you came to talk about it here. You were very insightful. You will find a way to help him; I'm sure of it.
  9. Amity

    Amity New Member

    I only have 3 at home I am not sure how to fix my signature, I am working on that in short order.

    This sounded very much like chastising me. I am trying hard. I have tons of patients but when it runs out or my fears creep in I run here , to friends or sometimes even am desperate enough to talk to family.
    OVERLY INVOLVED....ha ha ha arent we all?
    with eating, no maybe not nearly enough because I don't want to do damage. I have issues with food that stem from my parents.So I try very hard to make sure it is balanced. I tell my kids, yes absolutely you can have a cupcake and you can eat it too if you feel that is what is right for you. However dinner will be in 15 min so if you can wait please try to do so. Some times they pick yes sometimes that cupcake is the thing they want. end of story. No lash back, no fussing, nothing. just a happy kid with frosting on their face :)

    I understand that food is a thing for autistic people. For my son it is a soother!!!!!!!! Last night we went to the roller rink (one of his loved activities) however we went to a different place then our usual (silly mom what were you thinking) he struggled from the moment we entered the door till we finally left 30 min after they closed (he is 70+ pounds now and I cant carry him anymore, he must leave on his terms) all night long he went to the water fountain. after a bad fall on his bottom that resulted in people running to see if he was ok (worst thing they could do) the only thing that calmed him down was a cup of ice cream that the staff brought him (I believe they felt bad for making it worse). I didn't fuss about the food and matter fact joined him in a little cup and had a fun talk about dinosaurs and weather they would have liked ice cream. For those few moments we were isolated and he was okay and happy then it was over and he turned into the rink and the anxiety literally washed over him. We were right back to whimpering and etc. This night made me feel helpless and drained.
    Tonight we have open house at his school and I already feel like I don't think that is such a good idea. Like why do such things when I know the likelyhood of it being high stress for him. likely to cause more harm than good.
    This is how it is in big box stores (meijer, walmart, sams club etc and even in places like whole foods, trader joes, krogers, publix etc). I have learned that if I want to save any patience for the things that are important then I must pick my battles and activities wisely.
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2017
  10. pigless in VA

    pigless in VA Well-Known Member


    How did the open house go?
  11. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    I am not criticizing you. I told you my own experience. I know people with eating disorders and body image issues and its scary, to me much scarier than a kid being overweight. And kids turn to teens and eat what they want to eat anyway. I feel it is risky to focus too much on a childs weight so I gave my opinion. Losing weight as an adult is possible. There are many options now, including surgery. But surgery wont fix a skewed body image disorder. And it CAN kill you.
  12. Amity

    Amity New Member

    Naughty mom called the school and told them we weren't coming. They were actually very good about it and gave me info over the phone and in an email.
    Instead we went to the roller rink we usually go to. After such a hard time we both needed a smile not more stress.
    He was so happy, they know him by name, knows he likes even numbers and quickly showed him that even though he had to get size 3 they let him get them out of an even numbered cubby. He participated in games and even won a prize (glow stick) at one. We weren't even the last to leave. To say it was a win isn't quite it, more I had support and was not doing it alone.
    He still ate to much but not as much as could have. He picked nachos at the snack bar (bought with his own money) and stuck to munching them throughout the 2 hours. Ate a special K granola bar on the way home and a piece of candy he won at red light green light.
    He only had one moment of breakdown and that's when they played a spin the pin game and everyone was screaming. I saw the melt down happening and got out to him.
    Another moment where I wonder how we will handle stuff like this when he is older. Thank goodness I dont have to think about that today though :)
  13. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    None of us here mean to chastise you. I promise. SWOT is truly one of the most supportive moms you are going to find. She is mostly going to tell you how things were for her and in her family, rather than to tell you how she thinks you should do it. At least at first. This is a safe place and it is good to come here rather than to go to take the issues to your kids first. You can work them out with us. I wish I had done more of that when my son was young (my oldest) but he was older when I found this site).

    You need more interventions for your son. He needs an IEP at school. You write a letter requesting this and they provide it. If he has one, great. It should involve some occupational therapy, especially including sensory integration therapy. People with autism have problems because they don't interpret input from their senses the way the rest of the world does. The world is too bright, or not bright enough, too still, or not still enough, foods are too strong tasting, or not strongly flavored enough, textures are wrong, or too wonderful, everything isn't just OK. The world is so much more intense than normal people experience it. I can explain it now, because I would have been diagnosed with something like Aspergers if anyone where we lived knew what that was when I was a kid, and if girls were not such great imitators. Girls express it differently than boys do, some studies have shown. But wow, I could NOT understand how my classmates could tolerate those tags in their shirts, or some of those fabrics from our uniforms (I was in private school). I was, and still am, very much a texture person. Flavors are a big deal, but the texture of the food in my mouth is what makes or breaks it for me. Mushrooms - don't even try it. Not in any form or fashion. They are either slimy or styrofoam. I also cannot touch cotton balls. Even when they were little, I would have my kids get them out of medication bottles.

    Your son probably experiences the world very intensely and this is a big part of why he has meltdowns or cannot handle certain stores. I know many kids with autism have a hard time with florescent lights. There is help, and that is sensory integration therapy. I wasn't too sure about it when we started. After all, why had NO ONE suggested it for my oldest, who had autism? It was only for my 3rd child that it was suggested. I was shocked at how muchit helped. No medications no how is your mother upsetting you questions, just some activities that my kid LIKED and a program of brushing his body and gentle joint compressions that my child also liked. This REWIRED his brain and helped his brain become more normal? I was willing to try it. My parents were ALWAYS buying the kids art and craft stuff, and we actually had about 70% of the stuff the therapist suggested we buy for the sensory diet (activities to provide the sensory input his brain needed) because they were activities my kid gravitated to. Letting him sit on his head while he watched tv if he wanted? Or while he read a book? No skin off of my nose.
    They said it would help. Sure it was strange, but it hurt no one. In the beginning my child could only cope with half days of school maybe 3 or 4 days a week. He was never a behavior problem, but if he went more often, he had problems. He would vibrate, sort of shake. Like he was cold, but he wasn't. He couldn't eat for a night and sometimes not even the next morning. If I took him to school he would just curl into a ball and shake. It really freaked people out. He would need to just be left alone until his system could handle more sensory input. For what it is worth, this is on the mild end of the autism spectrum. Just with the things I mentioned, we got him from that point in Pre-K to going full days in first grade but only about 3 days a week, sometimes 2 days a week. He was still the top student in his class. It took until 3rd grade for him to only miss 1/4 of the school year. Then in 4th grade magic happened because he only missed school once for being overwhelmed and it was from some huge assembly that a substitute would not let him skip. Since then he has only missed school rarely for being sick. I have to force him to stay home then.

    This is the kind of help this can do. They may tell you that your son is at the top end of the age range to be helped by this. Insist that they try anyway. They will teach you the technique to do at home. Do it. I did it with my older kids because they said ti would not hurt but would not help. They were dead, flat WRONG. It helped a LOT. My daughter always wanted to do it to me and I was shocked at how much it helped ME. I was in my 30s. I think that someone decided that after a certain age the brain was too old to change. We are learning more each year about how changeable the brain is, and I really think this can help older people with sensory issues. I certainly don't see why it would hurt. You just have to be taught by a professional because if you do it wrong you can cause real harm.

    Who diagnosed your son's autism? Was he ever seen by a developmental pediatrician? In our area, that is the type of doctor you see and they have all of these doctors and specialists under one roof or at least they tell you about them. Or they refer you to a children's hospital and give you some comprehensive info about all of this. I know the dev pediatrician we saw had nutritionists they used to help with the binge eating and other dietary problems.

    One thing we found that helped HUGELY was to keep up the level of protein. I kept protein bars in flavors my sons liked. I had them everywhere, but not where my son could get them. I actually put a lock on the bedroom closet and stored them in there. I always had a few in my purse because then if we were out I had a ready snack. Protein seems to sate their need for food faster and it helps prevent the meltdowns. Having the simple carbohydrates, or not having enough protein to operate on, seemed to fuel my boys' meltdowns. If I had to take them anywhere except home after school, they HAD to have protein or it just was not worth the effort. We were guaranteed to have a meltdown. They simply could not cope because they ran out of fuel. If they had a party at school, they needed 2 protein bars to counteract the sugar. I often bought protein bars at BigLots because they had good prices and once we got an Aldi's I got them there.
  14. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Thank you, Susie. Thats what I do...share what worked and didnt for me. I thinkwe all do. And then the poster can take what resonates and leave the rrst, asI did when I came here so many years ago.

    Also, tremendous description of autistic life/highly sensitive child. I had some sensiry issues, more noise and smell related. You explained everything so well, as you always do.

    My son would not wear tags or go to fire works without covering his ears snd crying and could not eat many foods (he vomited in a restaurant once when older daughter talked him into trying cheesecske). Vegetables were worse. These partcular issues did not change, but he can spend time in crowded rooms, work, socialize (when he wants to), get around town (he chose not to drive), and is very kind and loving. Cant count how many folks have told me what a wonderful young man he is. He is 98% independent, but does have a case manager. He gets SSI but only a little because he works. A total success story.
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  15. Amity

    Amity New Member

    Omg thank you. Very helpful!
    Yes IEP. No formal diagnosis. Having trouble getting it. Seems to be a 3-5 year waiting list here in the state of MI unless I wanna pay out of pocket then they move it up to 2yrs. :O this info still shocks me. I have made days worth of calls, cried, pleaded etc but still no closer. Each person I talk to points a finger in another direction. Try a neurologist, try a regular pediatrician, Try county mental health, try school, Try a hospital (really that one was super useless), try juvenile mental health (umm that's a home for teens) etc
    Seems no one knows how kids get diagnosed as autistic. I can't believe this is hard. Argggg.

    Today I found an empty homeopathic medication bottle amongst the empty wrappers of freeze dried fruit, microwave popcorn, cheese sticks, and jar of peanut butter. I started to talk to him about it and he got really upset. He swears it wasn't him. He is such a stickler for rules that he almost lost it at the mere idea that I didn't believe him. So I just said that if he ever saw anyone eating them without permission please tell me, we wouldn't want anyone getting seriously sick. His little brain, he asked me with wide eyes if they could die if they ate to much medicine. Saying maybe yes was like a knife in my gut. It felt like adding new fear to already fully stocked fear library. But safety first is a new "rule in our home" so he went around asking everyone who did it. My 8 yr old finally fessed up that he read they help you sleep (poor kid suffers from insomnia).
    We have never had to put stuff up with the little guys as they just weren't kids that got into stuff.
    Our house hold maybe going through some changes this school year if we can not fix our impulse Control issues.
    This is just one tired mom ready for some things to just chill at my house.
  16. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Oh, you ended up in runaround city? I know a few people who got there also. Kids without classic autism symptoms, or with them but without really knowing who to ask to figure out who to see to get a diagnosis, and no matter what, they got told to ask someone else. That is bovine excrement if you ask me. Our society needs to do better than this.

    First of all, look online for an autism parents group in your area. Even look for an online group and see what doctors in the big cities you can get to are recommended as helpful by their members. Then see what doctors recommended by those groups are covered by your insurance. Then get your pediatrician to make the referrals. If the pediatrician doesn't want to make the referral, cry. Take your child in on his most overstimulated, cranky, least wanting to be there, least cooperative day, and tell the doctor you would be MORE than happy to leave just as soon as he either fixes whatever makes your son do this every time he gets tired/cranky/overwhelmed/it's-Tuesday/raining/whatever or he makes those referrals you want. Trust me, he will make those referrals. He may put a big note in yoru chart to not leave you stuck in a little room for 45 min, but oh, wait, that was MY SON! SORRY!!!

    Yes, I did that to a doctor and yes, it worked. It likely would for you also. I always sort of hate to do that to people, but really, what do they expect if they say no when I ask nicely? When it came to my kids needing something, nice was for wimps, not me. I didn't really care if they liked me, I cared if they gave my kids what they needed. (As I later found out, at least one of my children used me as a weapon against people - as in "do you REALLY want to discuss this with my mother?" LOL !!! that would be my daughter! As she told one principal , "I don't have to be mean. That's what Mommy is for." Her principal laughed so hard they thought she was having hysterics.)

    You need to get into contact with some of the online autism groups and see who they recommend in your neck of the woods. I am sure that your state has some autism foundations or groups and they will have doctors their members like. That is a good place to start. They may even have parent support groups. Other than that, look for neuropsychologists for testing, developmental pediatricians, maybe a Children's Hospital would be a good place to find these specialties. You also want Occupational Therapists who deal with sensory integration disorder.

    One thing that I did find illuminating with my kids was the books The OUt of Sync Child and The Out of Sync Child Has Fun both by Kranowitz. If I had to get one from the library and could only buy one, I would buy the Has Fun book. The first book describes sensory integration disorder and how to treat it. It is amazing. The Has Fun book is FUN. Your kids are at wonderful ages to get the most out of the book. The activities they will really enjoy are the ones that they will actually need - they will be drawn to those activities like they are magnets. Isn't that lovely? Something super fun that is actually good for them and their brains? Shortly after we got our first copy of this book the rest of the kids in the neighborhood discovered it. I swear some sort of message went out every single time I got the book out. I would have every kid in the area in my yard wanting to see what we were doing and if they could play too. How do you tell kids they cannot have fun? We wore out that first copy very fast and had to replace it. It is a great book. Most libraries have it or can get it on loan.
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  17. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Neuropsychologists are psychologists with special training in the brain. They can be found in university clinics and childrens hospitals. My son had ten hours of testing over a two day period. This was a neuro psychiatric from Mayo Clinic.

    We had a year wait but were put on a cancellation list and got called early!
  18. pigless in VA

    pigless in VA Well-Known Member

    Amity, does school start tomorrow? I hope he gets a sympathetic and compassionate teacher. That can make all the difference. Crossing all body parts for him to have a good first day.
  19. pigless in VA

    pigless in VA Well-Known Member


    How is your little guy holding up? Can you go back to the roller rink if he has a good week at school? That sounds like a great stress reliever, except for me. I spend too much time on my bottom and not enough time vertical.
  20. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    Hi Amity, I really understand the worry over the behavior you see and wonder how he will function further on in life. Behaviors change as growth and development happens. Hopefully, as he grows and matures there will be teaching and understanding of his behavior so that he can learn to soothe himself or cope. You will learn parenting techniques that work for your son so that all uncomfortable activities are avoided. Professional help and support services are very important.
    Does your son get special help in school? The school can be helpful to get referrals for testing and educational plan.
    There are neurological disorders that create chronic binge eating that have nothing to do with choices or control. The name escapes me at this time.
    You are at the early phases of diagnosing, treatment, educating and learning to parent differently that works for your son's benefit.
    Keep an open mind. Remind yourself that everything you do is for your son's best interest, not the schools, not the family and not even for you. Ask yourself daily, "what does my son need?". It can be uncomfortable for you because we moms, do everything to build a wall of security around our kids. It's not always the best way to help your child. It is sometimes uncomfortable and sometimes messy.
    You have a lot on your plate. Keep your focus on what's necessary for helping your son to be the most independent, successful child he can be.