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Hello, ME TOO. My daughter is 8 and my son is 10 (I'm currently 'blogging' for more info on my darlings) and they both have little bellies the doctor says we should watch. Thanks to all who have posted to this thread.

cg, I've been following your foodblog and saw the pictures of the little cg's. I'm not quite sure where physician saw their bellies, but in the flesh is more telling than through the ether.

I did come up with another idea. Hobble the hand-cart. Deliveries are not easy work. My mother used to drive for UPS, so I have some direct observation of this. If the hand cart goes down ill and he has to cart by hand, that would be very good exercise.

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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When my son was in second grade we moved and he started at a new school. He was uncomfortable and soothed himself by eating. He never got really obese, but he was much fatter than just having a tummy. My husband and I both have obese relatives and so I was very concerned about him becoming obese too. I took him to a nutritionist for help. While she was very knowledgeable, it wasn’t much help because my son didn’t care.

Now, ten years later, he is tall and slim. He was fat, but was slowly slimming down through junior high school. What helped him? He cares about his appearance (girls, you know), he grew a lot, he made friends. Now he eats because he’s hungry. Someone mentioned this above, but it really does seem like kids put on weight right before they have a growth spurt.

I think one of the most important things to do, besides having well balanced meals, is to limit junk food and sodas. For those of you attached to drinking sodas, are you happy with your weight? I had a relative who drank two Cokes a day, and wanted to lose 40 pounds, but couldn’t figure out how to do that. If she stopped drinking the Cokes, she would have lost a pound every ten days without making any other changes.

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I had a relative who drank two Cokes a day, and wanted to lose 40 pounds, but couldn’t figure out how to do that.  If she stopped drinking the Cokes, she would have lost a pound every ten days without making any other changes.

I tried cutting down calories by cutting out Mountain Dew from my diet. Problem was, that was right about the time I turned 21.

Mountain Dew was cut out, but beer was cut in. Of course, I was also working miniscule time at a brewery that paid me in product...

I never did lose that weight for a while.

Edited by jsolomon (log)

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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This is a very interesting and helpful thread. I have the opposite problem, but in some ways it's the other side of the same coin. My five year old is quite thin, and very picky about food. Right now we're having a problem with him getting to sit down and focus on eating. He's been better at it in the past, but now he's up and down and won't concentrate on the meal. I am really bad at this part of parenting. I just want to sit and calmly eat my meal and I don't want to have to nag.

We all ended up screaming at each other tonight, and so much for the pleasant family dinner. Later on, after he'd calmed down he came and sat on my lap and we had a talk about why it's important to eat a balanced meal and sit down so our bodies can digest the food. The suggestions above about getting your child more involved in the process of mealtime are very good. I like the solitude of preparing a meal by myself, but I can see that will have to change.

I'm also trying to explain to him that mealtime is when we all check in and ask each other about what we did that day. However, since I'm never quite sure when my partner will be home from work for dinner, it's hard with just the two of us to formalize this process. I guess the key is to start a series of rituals that lead up to the event and then establish the rituals of cleaning up and putting away food and dishes. I guess in the 1950's the rituals were more formalized and women dressed for dinner and the man coming home from work was supposed to be this exciting part of the whole day that had it's own moment in the script. Now we've become so informal, that we have to create our individual scripts in order to instill good habits.

My son and I have also had a battle of wills since he could talk. He loves to push my buttons and right now the buttons he's pushing are around food issues. It's very frustrating. You know, some days he's great and he wants to help set the table and he eats a good meal, but anyway today was the pits.

I think I just have to start right from scratch and really talk to him about the science of food and nutrition, the spirituality of sharing a meal, and the respect we need to show for our meals. I would like to hear how other people are doing this.

Two good things about this week are that he learned he loves pumpkin seeds and he also loves nori-covered rice sticks we call "witches' fingers." Small victories, but they mean a lot to me.

We drink a lot of tea in lieu of juice. Rooibus tea is great for kids. We also make juice "spritzers"--a tiny amouny of juice in sparkling mineral water.

Zuke

Edited by Zucchini Mama (log)

"I used to be Snow White, but I drifted."

--Mae West

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I think I just have to start right from scratch and really talk to him about the science of food and nutrition, the spirituality of sharing a meal, and the respect we need to show for our meals. I would like to hear how other people are doing this.

Zuke

Zuke -- your post resonates with me on so many levels; I'll try not to "yack" too much.

My MIL used to insist that my oldest son was way too thin, and often told me to force-feed him in order to stretch his stomach. I am not making this up. He still has plain tastes, and he still has a lean body, just like his father.

Your dinner-time button-pushing was something we had for a while. Remember those "terrible twos" everyone warns of? For us, it was terrible fours and fives. It passes. And I just put myself on a time-out whenever I felt like losing it. We have a few rules for the dinner table, and one is that the time be pleasant or silent. Mr. FFB and I are not exempt from that rule.

Making the mealtime less of a rush and hassle was important when the boys were so young. I eventually rearranged my work schedule so I'd be home earlier in the afternoon and we all had some much-needed decompression time. I stopped trying to cook complicated meals every night.

Come to think of it, a lot of the issues were mine (and my husband's) to use or lose.

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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This is a very interesting and helpful thread. I have the opposite problem, but in some ways it's the other side of the same coin. My five year old is quite thin, and very picky about food. Right now we're having a problem with him getting to sit down and focus on eating. He's been better at it in the past, but now he's up and down and won't concentrate on the meal. I am really bad at this part of parenting. I just want to sit and calmly eat my meal and I don't want to have to nag.

Zuke,

When I was five I was very thin. I was very thin all through high school, and up until I hit 25 years old. Also, when I was five, I was going through a picky stage. I keep trying to figure out what my motivation was to be picky then, but I can't get a grasp of it.

I really admire your efforts. Be patient. It may take time.

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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Hello everyone. I'm sure I'll just end up repeating and re-hashing all the good information everyone else has posted, but I just had to throw in my two cents(us back of the house people are like that). As a single dad of 2 (2 1/2, and 10 months), and a food service director for a private boarding high school, i admit i do know a little about the subject. My kids, fortunately, are the easy ones. They are growing up eating as healthy as i can manage. It's really hard when the older one has been to McD's with his mom and really wants a "chicken box". But i use the same strategy on my two as i do the 500 i feed 3 meals a day, 7 days a week. Moderation. They're most certainly gonna go nuts for chicken nuggets and french fries, but if you offer them healthy options, they will almost certainly give it a try. Another easy fix is lots of fresh fruit. My kids love fruit, and most of the kids at work will grab it as a quick fix on their way out of the dining hall. I am also lucky in that the school here does not allow vending machines and the like, so there's less that I'm up against. Likewise, if i don't have the sugary junk stuff in my house, there's no battle there to fight. For sweet stuff, my son goes for whole fruit frozen pops, fresh fruit, and sugar free cereal bars. At work, we always offer sugar free alternatives for dessert, and there is always a salad bar, fruit bar, and plenty of vegetarian and vegan options. Kids like choices so the more you can give them, and the more ways you can "sneak in" the healthy stuff, the more often they are going to choose it. Next battle...convincing my 2 1/2 year old that cheetos is not an acceptable starch. :smile:

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i'm with jsolomon on this one............

kid's need to do WORK........do not confuse this with excersise........

i don't think kid's need choices as much as they need chores........

they don't need freedom as much as they need direction........

the payoff is that when you work your ass off you can eat and drink whatever you want and not be fat.........

i've been fat and soft from too much food and good paying jobs. i've been lean and hungry from not having enough money......

finding the balance takes time,,,,sometimes......

i'm 45 yrs, 5'9" , 185# , 12% BF........

it's all about burning the calories........

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Sorry. It's just that your entire post was about food. Healthy eating and exercise are BOTH important for a healthy lifestyle. Plus, the more you exercise, the more you can eat.

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Sorry.  It's just that your entire post was about food.  Healthy eating and exercise are BOTH important for a healthy lifestyle.  Plus, the more you exercise, the more you can eat.

Believe it or not, I get that exercise is important and that my son could eat more if he were more active. I've chosen to focus on food issues right now because that's the one thing it seems we can get some immediate control over (and because, hey, this is egullet.) I cannot force my son to walk around the block, bale hay (like there's any hay to be baled in our suburb anyway), or play basketball. Even if I could, I wouldn't. My own loathing of physical exercise springs directly from junior high p.e. classes where I was forced to do things I didn't want to do. Up until that point, I was a pretty active kid; when I started getting C's in p.e. because I couldn't learn how to do a routine on the uneven parallel bars, I stopped thinking of myself as a person who could be "successfully" active in any way.

I've really appreciated all the input here, and I've implemented a great deal of it already. I'm sure I'll figure out the exercise piece with my son's input, as I've figured out that letting him know (and sometimes choose) what to expect for dinner is helpful in getting him to eat the healthy options I serve. I've already started exploring some alternatives to karate, which he did enjoy for awhile. In the meantime, he's become the designated dog-walker--a responsibility I swapped for putting away his laundry, which for some reason he just hates to do. I figure he's better off (and better dressed) under the present arrangement.

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I didn't read the whole thread, but the best advice I can give is for you to set a good example. If you can live a healthy lifestyle by eating right and exercising the chances are that it'll start to rub off on him, even if it doesn't happen right away.

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I don't know if this is mentioned up thread or not, but there was an article in my local paper yesterday that put some of the blame of overwieght children on the relaxed rules inside our schools. The article mentioned that students are allowed to have snacks and soda pop in classroom and in the hallways, and that some teachers use candy and other treats as incentives.

Research published Monday based on surveys at 16 middle schools in the Twin Cities area has found that those with snack-friendly policies have, on average, fatter students.

Full story here.

We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

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  • 2 weeks later...

So, a new twist in the continuing saga: my son has now been diagnosed with ADD (without the hyperactivity dimension of this disorder--in fact, as I said upthread, he's a pretty sedentary kid, and can be very focused when he's really engaged in a task.) This explains some of the trouble he's been having at school this year. I'm hopeful we can address that trouble through medication after a visit with the neurologist in a couple of weeks.

But on the food front: all the research I've done on ADD medications indicates that they nearly always cause appetite suprression and weight loss. Since, as I've mentioned, my son could stand to stabilize his weight while he gets taller, I'm not terribly concerned about the weight loss issue at the moment. But does anyone have experience with an already picky eater taking ADD medication? As if it hasn't been hard enough to get my son to make good food choices, now I'm concerned that suppressed appetite will make him that much less open to trying new things. And if he isn't eating much, I'm not sure I want to fight with him about what he does eat.

A friend tells me her son didn't gain a pound for two years after starting his ADD meds. While there's really no doubt in my mind that this is what my son needs--he has 18 of the 25 "official" symptoms his pediatrician looks for--I'm freaking out at the thought that our food battles have only just begun.

I realize this is worry in advance of the actual problem, but I'll accept any words of wisdom anyone has to offer.

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I think it's a wait-and-see situation. I was diagnosed with ADD last spring, myself, but my ADD meds did nothing for my appetite, unfortunately. (I'm a middle-aged adult.) However, I found that I had been doing a lot of grazing in the afternoon, in need of mental stimulation, and that symptom has eased quite a bit. If your son has the same kind of experience, it may slow down his consumption of extra and unnecessary calories without affecting his overall eating habits much. At least, that's one possibility.

I would urge you to hold off on being concerned until you have significant reason to be. Your son's environment is about to change, and it's possible that the improvement in his focus, with the benefits that brings, will improve his self-image, and some of his eating habits may change for the better along with all that.

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Just revisiting the exercise thing again...my son1's BMI is around 80th percentile, so not overweight, but nowhere near skinny.

Like many others, modern attitudes to child safety affect our kids' exercise dramatically. Our situation may be extreme, but I'm sure other families have related concerns. Any ideas?

Safety is not just an abstract concept for our family - our son1 has suffered serious violence at his school, and police warned us to make sure that an adult is with him whenever he goes out. He lives only 2 minutes' walk from school anyway; school P.E., while it exists, is limited; and he belongs to the computer club, not a sports team. Since school violence has got to the point where even the table-tennis club is a good place to get your teeth knocked out, I'm not about to suggest he try for a team. Totally fed up, we are about to put son2 in a private school, and therefore canceled the boys' swimming classes this week - currently son1's only sustained exercise for the week. Grrr.

I can only think of increasing our family activities at weekends...any cheap ideas apart from walking?

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I can only think of increasing our family activities at weekends...any cheap ideas apart from walking?

While related to walking, I would suggest hiking/mountain climbing. Most mountains in Japan are pretty small, and have easy routes along with more difficult ones. It's also a very popular hobby. The mountain climbing summer trip at my school is one of the most popular trips at the school (it's a 3 or 4 day trip with several climbs), even amongst the less physically-inclined.

I empathize with your situation. Having worked in both public and private Japanese schools, I can honestly say I would not send my children (had I any) to either. If I had children, I think international schools would be my only option, knowing what goes on (and I currently work at a highly respected school--there are jukus in Tokyo which send their highest level students to take the entrance exam at my school, just to see if they can pass).

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So, a new twist in the continuing saga:  my son has now been diagnosed with ADD (without the hyperactivity dimension of this disorder--in fact, as I said upthread, he's a pretty sedentary kid, and can be very focused when he's really engaged in a task.) This explains some of the trouble he's been having at school this year. I'm hopeful we can address that trouble through medication after a visit with the neurologist in a couple of weeks. 

But on the food front:  all the research I've done on ADD medications indicates that they nearly always cause appetite suprression and weight loss.  Since, as I've mentioned, my son could stand to stabilize his weight while he gets taller, I'm not terribly concerned about the weight loss issue at the moment.  But does anyone have experience with an already picky eater taking ADD medication?  As if it hasn't been hard enough to get my son to make good food choices, now I'm concerned that suppressed appetite will make him that much less open to trying new things.  And if he isn't eating much, I'm not sure I want to fight with him about what he does eat.   

A friend tells me her son didn't gain a pound for two years after starting his ADD meds.  While there's really no doubt in my mind that this is what my son needs--he has 18 of the 25 "official" symptoms his pediatrician looks for--I'm freaking out at the thought that our food battles have only just begun.    

I realize this is worry in advance of the actual problem, but I'll accept any words of wisdom anyone has to offer.

Wow, from overeating to ADD. Certainly should be a seperate thread.......but the abrupt subject change is fitting for an ADD discussion. I'm not a doctor and I don't play one on TV. But as an adult who has a rather severe case of ADD. I would strongly advise being careful with the use of ADD medication. No, I am not suggesting you ignore yor doctors advise, but be aware of the effects of the drug. It's not all good and for me was not an answer. It does reduce your appetite for food as well as your appetite for everything else in life. Food, sex, humor, etc. I dunno, I shouldn't be saying anything about this.......because many people have great success with the treatment.

Edited by kguetzow (log)
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But does anyone have experience with an already picky eater taking ADD medication?  As if it hasn't been hard enough to get my son to make good food choices, now I'm concerned that suppressed appetite will make him that much less open to trying new things.  And if he isn't eating much, I'm not sure I want to fight with him about what he does eat.   

Oh, man. I'm sorry this is piling up on you right now! It never does get easier, does it.

I've been through this, too. I had to finally choose which was most important to me: getting him to eat more and a variety of foods, or just being glad that he's finally balanced, comfortable and productive, and feeling like a part of what's around him. My son's appetite was pretty much gone at first, and then it adjusted. What we saw was that the meds don't kill the appetite -- they still get hungry, and they will eat when they are.

BTW, I really believe that most of the ADD diagnoses for boys has to do with the lack of activity - I don't recall where you live, but when the wintertimes were bad, my kids really had problems with attention spans and concentration.

Edited by FabulousFoodBabe (log)
"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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Wow, that is a lot to deal with at once. It's great that you will be seeing a specialist to figure out what the next step will be.

I have no idea what your doctors will recommend for treatment, but I have a friend whose child's ADD was managed with diet. White flour, sugar, and food sensitivities were really causing problems for her kid. Maybe this was a mild case of ADD as I am not really familiar with the disorder, but since you are working on his diet anyway I thought I'd mention it.

If you do go with mediciation, perhaps with the ADD resolved he would be able to focus on tasks like cooking, shopping, and meal planning better. In the long run, that might make him more likely to try new foods even if his appetite is diminshed.

Tammy Olson aka "TPO"

The Practical Pantry

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BTW, I really believe that most of the ADD diagnoses for boys has to do with the lack of activity

I have to agree. My family is horribly unsporty, but even my boys need exercise to stay relatively sane. ADHD is scarcely admitted to exist in Japan, so medication is very rare indeed. I know two kids who would surely be on meds in other countries. If it helps at all, they both seem to have gained new powers of concentration with puberty. (Not lots, but some...!). Even my kids just couldn't settle to anything when they were cooped up in the house all day.

I decided long ago to abandon all ambitions to raise cultured citizens, and just imagine that I have a couple of very large, half-grown dogs in the house. Feed, de-louse regularly, and exercise! :raz: .

Please don't think I'm being insulting, but I've seen people with severe mental illnesses show disturbed eating patterns when they're worse. I don't know whether it is also true for ADD (hard to say how much of ADD is developmental, and how much is due to neurological damage or malfunction), but the two boys I'm thinking of whose ADD behavior really stood out are both small eaters and very picky. One of the boys often ate at our home, and he ate much better when he had helped make the meal, and knew exactly what was in it. The other, who is much more noticeably hyperactive, often goes to juku (cram school) with my son1, with a dinner of candy in his pockets. Son1 often takes a more nutritious snack for him, but we've discovered that the boy is nervous about being able to easily chew and swallow things - sounds like some kind of neurological issue there, which medication might improve.

Prasantrin, thanks for that info. Hiking is a great way to restore mind and body, I think - getting away physically from a frustrating environment is so relaxing!

Son1 has just over a year to stay safe before he can try for what he hopes will be the high school of his dreams (the type that teaches robotics to 15 year olds...). International schools that go up to high school are not within commuting distance (or within reach of our earnings, either!), but son2 is probably headed for a small Lutheran school next year...and I will begin making SIX YEARS of packed lunches for teen boys. (Is it possible to freeze 6 years of lunches in one go, do you think?).

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I can only think of increasing our family activities at weekends...any cheap ideas apart from walking?

Cycling? You can still do it as a family, and has advantage over walking of being able to travel further afield.

I used to seek out the less-trafficked roads for cycling on while in Kansai, and sometimes there are walking/cycling paths along river beds as well. I got lost constantly, but really got to know my neighbourhood!

With walking, I'm quite sure you've already thought of the Kanto equivalent of this, but nonetheless: in Kansai we bought one of those books with 52 walking routes in the local region - one for each weekend of the year - and walked quite a few of them. Took us to places we had never even dreamed were present locally, such as well hidden lakes up in the mountains and so on. A bit of train travel was usually required at both ends, but nothing too excessive. It really did make the walking a lot more fun.

Edited because my grammar is lousy.

Edited by anzu (log)
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Pam, welcome to the world of seeing a neurologist twice or more per year.

In keep this food related, let me relate some experience I have had. Your new best friends are not only the neurologist, but the pharmacist, and a dietician. Yes, fight your health insurance for a dietician. The dietician can evaluate food decisions, the pharmacist other food choices. For example, with some medications, artificial sweeteners are a big no-no (as are other OTC meds).

You have, at this point, no way of knowing how the medication for your child will affect appetite and weight gain or loss. You won't know this until the medication is at theraputic level. In the case of my daughter Heidi (who takes about 10,000 mg of anti-epilepsy meducation every day), conventional wisdom said that she would be tired and lethargic and gain all sorts of weight. Guess what? She is about as big as a minute, and we struggle to get food into her. Peters best friend is ADD and the medication is supposed to surpress appetite. It doesn't with him.

So, we have involved not only the pharmaciist and a dietician, in addition to the neuro and her regular ped, but the school lunch lady and her teachers. Oh, let's add the gym teacher and the swimming instructor. And, let's not forget adding eating and food choices to the IEP.

So, what do I do with kids around that both need and don't need food? Make sure there is always lots of fruit. One of the best decisions we ever made was to get a side-by-side fridge with water and ice in the door. I don't care of the kid is skinny or fat, they all need water, and the novelty of the water and the ice in the door, accompanied by the ease, is worth it's weight in gold.

Keep your son involved in food and meal choices and preparation. You can't control what the medication will do to his appetite, but you can control what is available, and how much particoipation he has in those choices.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Keep your son involved in food and meal choices and preparation.  You can't control what the  medication will do to his appetite, but you can control what is available, and how much particoipation he has in those choices.

OMG, Snowangel, I think you too are living my life. What you said, what you said. The part I quoted is really what it comes down to. I've watched my kid pack it on this summer, even though he worked as a golf caddy two days a week and on a farm three days a week, rode his bike a lot, etc. It broke my heart for him, but I was so grateful that he was finally balanced and comfortable and could take pleasure in things. His medication being adjusted, and we can see the difference already in his appetite. Adding food choices to an IEP -- what a great idea! My son is in high school now, and is making good choices most of the time. I'll take it.

He gets lots of help in school, but about a year ago, it was coming down to more tutoring or more medication. We didn't like those options (adding three more hours a week of sitting in front of a book seemed kind of cruel to a kid who's having a hard time paying attention) so decided to take the money we'd spend on a tutor, and spend it instead on a trainer at a gym. Wow -- what a difference. The trainer is in his late 20s, very cool, and very smart. He likes video games AND exercise, and preaches (in a big-brotherly way) that you can do both but without the health, you got nothin'.

Life dealing with this is not easy, but not boring! And being able to provide good food for them is one of the few things we can actually provide that no one else can.

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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One of the best decisions we ever made was to get a side-by-side fridge with water and ice in the door.  I don't care of the kid is skinny or fat, they all need water, and the novelty of the water and the ice in the door, accompanied by the ease, is worth it's weight in gold.

Keep your son involved in food and meal choices and preparation.  You can't control what the  medication will do to his appetite, but you can control what is available, and how much particoipation he has in those choices.

Snowangel, we bought a side-by-side fridge just a few months ago and I'm still amazed at the difference it has made. My son drinks water by the gallon simply because it's so cool--and much easier than hauling out the milk jug. You also mentioned having lots of fruit on hand, which we do. He's not averse to fruit, though he has to be reminded that it's a snack option; somehow, fruit=snack just hasn't taken hold for him.

I'm withholding my freaking out over the appetite suppression factor until we see exactly what the ADD meds will do (or not do). Thanks to all who've offered advice and support, especially all those who've pm-ed me with your personal stories. It's been great to hear so many different perspectives. I thought about starting another thread when the ADD issues became a factor, but for me it's all the same ball of wax because it's all the same kid, the same appetite, the same little body being affected by his choices.

BTW, I'll add that we ordered a treadmill for our family Christmas gift this year. It'll take up the space in my bedroom where I'd been dreaming of putting a leather club chair and a big bookshelf, but oh well--we'll all live longer and read more books (perhaps while on the treadmill). The kids are already jockeying for treadmill time, and we don't even have it in the house yet!

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