The internet has blasted a mother of four for causing her youngest daughter to have an eating disorder by restricting her diet and teaching her to count calories.
In a post shared on Mumsnet, the mother, who goes by the username Wills, asked for advice to help her fourth child and youngest daughter, aged 12, who she says have an unhealthy relationship with food and too much meal.
She explains in the post that all of her four children, three of whom are on the autistic spectrum, have struggled with their weight, including herself and their mother, but with guidance, her older three “sort of got back on track.”
She wrote: “Once they’re past 18 I feel like it’s their choice to be who they want to be but (and sometimes this will be unasked) try to base their choices on healthy eating – my point is that they’re okay with being “big,” but I always emphasize a balanced diet and a healthy exercise routine.”
The woman explains that her youngest daughter, who she says is not autistic but may be showing signs that could also be learned behavior, has gone “from a child’s size of 12/13 to an adult size of 14 and in certain thinner shops of 16. All of my normal coping strategies have failed. She’s like a heat-seeking rocket for sugar.” She says she had to give up baking because “if I bring something sweet, she’ll find it—even under my bed.”
She describes how her youngest daughter had a “wonderful bonding experience with her grandma at a difficult time in the family when her grandpa was dying of dementia… They put together a raspberry crumble with oatmeal like something that was wonderful for her.” learn was.
“Fast forward – so I’ve stopped buying ‘snacks’, cookies, puddings – basically anything that might constitute a treat (feel like the Grinch). But DD3 [dear daughter 3] is really intelligent/clever! For nine months I have not dared to have sugar or flour and butter in the house!
“When I do that, she gets up at 5 a.m. and makes a crumble mix that would feed four people (with fruit) and then eats it for breakfast. I stopped buying sugar and flour, which was fine at the time. Two of my kids were in college, but they came home and bought their own stuff and they get annoyed when they’re gone in the morning.”
She continues, “To give an example…She ate three full-fat sesame bagels for breakfast. How am I supposed to tell her this is unreasonable without her yelling at me for calling her fat.”
Eating Disorder Risk
The post, originally posted on the AIBU (Am I Being Unreasonable) forums, drew a mixed reaction from Mumsnet users, with many describing the daughter’s behavior as a clear eating disorder and some blaming the mother.
According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders:
- Nine percent of the US population, or 28.8 million Americans, will have an eating disorder at some point in their lives.
- Less than six percent of people with eating disorders are medically diagnosed as “underweight.”
- 28 to 74 percent of the risk of eating disorders is genetic.
- Being taller is both a risk factor for developing an eating disorder and a common outcome for people struggling with bulimia and binge eating disorder.
- Larger people are half as likely to be diagnosed with an eating disorder as people who are “normal” or “underweight.”
User fUNNYfACE36 wrote: “You literally gave your child an eating disorder. I think you need professional advice now.”
RagazRebooted echoed these views, suggesting that the dietary restrictions have caused more bad than good: “It sounds like you taught her to be obsessed with food and now she has binge eating disorder. Counting calories won’t help… Don’t you offer treats at all? It looks like you tried to limit her too much so now she’s obsessed.
“Typically, children can eat one treat/pudding each day as part of their balanced diet. I would involve them in the baking/shopping and use the portioning aspect to talk about healthy portion control. So instead of feeling like she has to eat all her contraband by 5 a.m., bake a bunch of cookies and have one or so every day!”
User Meadowbreeze also agreed, saying: “You gave your child an eating disorder. It is not normal not to buy sugar or flour to wake up one day and know. They had a nice experience doing something and now they want to do it again, I’m not surprised. Three bagels is not excessive for a growing teenager. I want to hug your daughter and bake some bread with her.”
Beastlyslumber offered alternative advice: “It sounds like binge eating disorder, OP [original poster]. You mentioned autism – could she have ADHD? People with ADHD often have strong dopamine-seeking behaviors and are prone to addiction. I think she probably needs mental health support, maybe look at ADHD as well. But in the meantime, you could read up on BED a little and see if you think it fits. brain over binge is a really good resource and there are some good podcasts and videos on YouTube too.”