View Full Version : My son forgets to eat

03-31-16, 04:00 AM
Hi, I need help with my 7 year old son. He doesn't seem to have a clear idea of whether he's hungry or not. He only seems to recognise it when he's really hungry. Then he will eat half a meal and stop. If I want him to eat regular meals I have to sit with him and give him constant reminders. From what I'm reading this seems to be just about what you could expect from a child with ADHD.

Ideally I would like to let him regulate his own food intake but I don't feel that this is possible because then he doesn't eat until he's starving and we end up with various problems. a) he becomes violent with his little brother. b) he becomes overemotional and cracks up over tiny things, causing him a great deal of upset and tantrums. c) he becomes defiant and despite being hungry refuses to eat, thereby sending us into a vicious downward spiral. d) it affects his ability to study. e) we live in India and there really isn't any health food outside the house, so if he doesn't eat in the house I end up having to give him junk food outside the house. f) because he eats so little his stomach is tiny and he finds it very difficult to catch up on missed calories, so even after eating a decent meal he may still have trouble behaving for some time afterwards, sometimes it can go on for days at a time. solution has been to give him reminders verbally. The only problem with this is that it's driving me completely insane. Even knowing that he can't help it and that he needs me to remind him and even though I'm now at a stage where I can do it 90% of the time without getting angry at him, still it's a repetitive task that is incredibly annoying! Does anyone have any ideas as to how I could get him to eat without having to be the reminder?

I did wonder if I could find some kind of gadget or app that would remind him, like some kind of repeating alarm, or perhaps something he could use to record his own voice telling him to eat. That way I'm not the nagging mother any more! But I've tried searching online and I'm not getting anywhere, maybe I'm not using the right search term or something. If anyone has any ideas I would be more than grateful.


03-31-16, 07:05 AM
Is he in school? If so, does he manage to eat lunch? Having a regular schedule in which he eats every day at the same time might help. If he can't recognize the feeling of hunger, might be be able to recognize when he's getting out of sorts and eat a snack?

Sadly, I don't see a quick solution, as he's still quite young. Hopefully as he gets older he'll learn to recognize the other signs of low blood sugar and react appropriately, or at least recognize the advantage of regular meals.

And, yes, as an adult, still, if I don't eat till after I'm starving I get quite irritable and off balance and it's really hard for me to find my center.

03-31-16, 09:10 AM
I'm 36 and i still don't remember to eat. It's actually a serious problem.

Routine routine routine.

From the time he wakes up . He should know (just an example..) if his routine is
1. Get dressed
2. Brush hair
3. Eat
4. Brush teeth
5. Do something fun or relaxing before school

Make sure he can't do #5 before #3 and #4. It takes the burden off you reminding him and let's you more just 'check in' if you see him doing #5.

When he gets home.. Let's say he looks forward to a game or activity..

Everyday after school:
1. Snack
2. Homework
3. Dinner
4. Activity
5. Pre bedtime snack

For that reason my DD eats dinner early... and i allow a light pre bedtime snack after which I ASK HER ... same words EVERY EVENING..."Are you done with food for the day?" If 'no', then she has to eat more NOW..not later (later puts the burden on YOU).. If 'yes' I ask, 'ok, .. if you tell me you're hungry later what will I say?' To which DD responds, 'you'll say: too bad.'

Yes I have actually sent her to bed hungry... ONCE ..

Now she takes it more seriously when I ask that question.

Believe it or not, she did not die of malnutrition overnight. I was as surprised as anyone. Who knew kids were so resilient?

03-31-16, 11:25 AM
He's homeschooled correct?

I agree with Stevuke79. Routines I'll help a lot. Having a food schedule Along with other set routines are extremely nessasary. While it may be annoying for you to tell him to eat, it goes hand in hand with being a parent. Some things are more enjoyable as a parent than others.

Your son just may not be a meal/foody type of kid right now. as he gets older that may or maynot change. it is pretty common for young kids (7 is a young child) to not be interested in eating.

when i was 7, I was forced to wit at a table at scheduled times to wat, granted i played with the food more than I ate it, but for me, I was just too busy to take the time away from whatever it was that I felt was important. 0lus i was a very picky eater, and wouldnt eat anything thst i didnt feel like eating...even now I am more of a grazer, that a big sit and eat a meak type of person.

best advice family time dinners, if you are not already doing that, and have set meal eating times during his day. either have the nanny( I believe you mentioned one in previous thread?) have set times either small snacks thruout the day or big meal set times or both.

like for example he wakes at 7 am goes to sleep by 9 pm
have first meal/snack at 7:45 secomd snack anout 3-4 hours later and so on.

also, i get my nephew to eat more by making it a game. for example, when he is over the "sitting down to eat" and still needs to eat more, i will find a food on my plate or his plate. for example over the weekend I grabbed greenbeans frim his plate and start slurping it in my mouth like spagetti and made the slurping sound and over animate the act of it myself, so he is intrigued and he then wants to try to do it too... and once hes engaged and interested in trying it . i make him keep showing me it. i offer positive encourangement, i encourage and visible show how impressed i am by his talent.. he continues to show me and everyoje else.. point is now he is having fun and keeps eating since he wants to try to imoress me. he is 2 . i encourage him to do it again and again, so he is having fun while eating. sometimes adding play saves a ton of issues.

He is a young boy treat him as such, dont force his maturity cause it will csuse issues, 7 is young and he has his whole life ti be an adult. let him be a kid and yes you will need to remind him to eat. its just part of thr parenting job

03-31-16, 12:56 PM
Hello, welcome to the forums!

I experienced pretty much exactly what you're describing of your son.

I am sorry to say it, but it never got better for me. I still have the same issues into adulthood.

I would forget to eat, and also not be able to tell if I'm hungry. My body is still the same way. I would go into a downward spiral whenever my blood sugar dropped, and go into a big meltdown. "Did she eat??" or "when was the last time she ate??" were commonly heard about me growing up.

And when I was sat down to eat, I had to have constant reminders, "Bella, eat!" and reminders to take bites were said many times during my meals.

I'm sorry but you really might have to be the nagging mom forever, because he might never grow out of it or be able to fix it.

Some things did help me a bit over the years:
I brought snacks to school, I was having low blood sugar issues so my doctor suggested it, and would eat the snacks in school. (Had to get special permission from teachers)
Make really yummy food so he is more interested in eating it, maybe his favorite foods
Keep premade food handy, in case you discover he is hungry and he needs food IMMEDIATELY
This is not suggested by some parents, but it was and still is the main thing that helps me eat: I MUST watch something while I eat. Eating takes too much focus, is too boring, and too draining if my mind is not occupied while I do it. I would get to watch tv during my meals and it was what helped me get food down - of course I still needed the reminders to eat and take bites. But it helped majorly. And I still cannot eat to this day unless I'm watching a video or doing something entertaining.

Honestly, setting timers has never been successful for me. The only time I used timers and they semi-helped was my senior year of highschool. It has been suggested to me many times and I've tried it many times but I can never keep up with it, it's stressful(hearing the timer sound sends my adrenaline pumping), the timers make me feel guilt which doesn't help, they just didn't work out probably due to many reasons.

But if you want to use timers, then perhaps use them yourself and then give your son food when the timer goes off. But you still might find the timers to be too stressful.

But I'm sorry, this is probably going to be an issue he will struggle with forever. Not being able to tell if you're hungry complicates the whole thing, because how do you know when to eat if you can't tell you're hungry in the first place? You don't even think to eat, until it's too late and spiraling. He probably won't be able to successfully teach himself when to eat, especially if he has ADHD. Never in a million years would I have been able to at that age for sure. Not even for several years after that age. He's only 7, he needs lots of help right now and he probably is going to continue needing the constant reminders to eat.

03-31-16, 02:35 PM
Socals example of 'making eating a game' reminded me of something that I do with DD.

I know that many people consider eating in front of a TV or tablet screen very unhealthy and a bad idea.. and i truly believe they have a point.

BUT I let DD watch her youtube during many/most meals. .. even if we're at the table together.

For the following reason... I find eating PAINFULLY boring.. but at 36 I understand why I need to have the discipline to see there and get it done.

(I also often fail to get it done which is why I make calorie packed shakes to eat while I'm driving .. I like to play with stuff while driving.. and a shake is better than my cellphone.)

And i look at DD sitting and eating and I feel her pain. I see it on her face.. and I too combine eating with other activities, so I don't ask her to be better than me or to endure more pain than I endure myself... I let her watch TV.

(Also people with ADHD have trouble developing good habits based on positive feedback. Ie. For most people:
Step 1. I feel sick tired and grumpy
Step 2. I ate and felt better
Step 3. I've reinforced a positive association with eating.
Food = good. Eating=feel good.

ADHD impairs the otherwise natural progression from step 2 to step 3.)

I know they say that TV while eating contributes to obesity. I really do think about that risk .. she's 8. So far she's very thin and with all the TV the challenge is still getting her to eat.. not getting her to stop overeating in front of the TV. But I have always been thin so maybe it would be a problem with the wrong genetics. It may help that she's pretty active and that we more or less only allow healthy food to be available.)

Oh... one more idea.. desert. We DO NOT have any REAL dessert during the week. But I do tell her that once shes done eating she can have a 'dessert' (I'll define weekday 'dessert' in a second.) She doesn't have to finish her portion... but she must eat some of the vegetables and say 'I'm DONE eating for the night.' ... then she can pick a 'dessert'. We have a small 'candy box' on top of the fridge.

A dessert during the week is something like 4 chocolate chips... or 2 square cm of a chocolate bar .. or 1 teaspoon of frosting (frosting sounds bad. . but 1 tsp is 20 calories) last night it was a tiny bit of cotton candy (6 calories worth) .. these are of course loaded with sugar triglycerides and saturated fat... but we're talking about usually less than 10 calories of triglycerides sugar and saturated fat and NEVER more than 20.. she'll live..

It's not like a 600 calorie slice of cake every night

04-01-16, 02:57 PM
sadly only time i remember to eat is when there's events involving food.

04-01-16, 03:40 PM
I find that i will just be hyper focusing and 5 hours could go by and i won't eat or drink anything . I will also forget to brush my teeth(ill forget this the most) and take showers sometimes. The only person that reminds me to do anything is my wife.