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How can I get my son to stop eating?


Full Member
S: 12st5lb C: 9st1lb G: 8st5lb BMI: 24 Loss: 3st4lb(26.59%)
I recently started the SW diet and I'm getting my eleven year old son to do it as well. He has profound learning difficulties and is like a toddler. He also loves food and will eat and eat and as a result is putting weight on. I can't explain anything to him as he doesn't understand and when he's hungry he gets very upset and bites his hand hard. So it's difficult to say no to him. I'm not a softy mother and I am pretty firm with him, but I don't think he can cope with hunger very well, it seems to be a real pain to him.

So I thought that SW would be ideal for him as there are so many free foods and luckily he loves fruit and vegetables just as much as chocolate, biscuits and cake. He's costing me a fortune in fruit for snacks and he just keeps coming back for more. He does fill up eventually but I was hoping that with the huge reduction in fat that he is now having he might not crave so much food.

I could give him pasta salads or rice salads for snacks but I'm worried about him getting too much carbohydrate. He has quite a bit with his meals.

Does anyone have any ideas of how to fill him up?

He is still in nappies, and as you can imagine, with all the food he's eating he could poo for England.

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Cute, but psycho!
S: 24st6lb C: 19st8lb BMI: 45.6 Loss: 4st12lb(19.88%)
Have a word with your consultant, as I *think* the SW plan is different for children...maybe they're allowed more syns and healthy extras


loves food and cooking
S: 12st10.5lb C: 12st5lb G: 10st7lb BMI: 26.3 Loss: 0st5.5lb(3.08%)
Firstly, sending you some <hugs> it sounds like you are trying to balance so much at the moment.

My first thought (and you have probably already done this) is that you should get some professional advice on this from people who understand your sons condition, his current weight etc ..

I wonder if you have access to a paediatric dietician through hospital? My daughter has T1 diabetes, and we have found the support of a paed dietician really helpful with knowing how much a child of her age and stats should be eating for optimum growth to match her medication etc etc.

Have you considered the possibility of say, 6 smaller meals spread through the day - so rather than breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, supper, bed - perhaps there could be 6 more equally balanced meals? hopefully levelling out his hunger from one meal to the next?

The only other thought is that you might find it useful to read up on lower GI alternatives - these tend to be very healthy foods, providing a slower energy release, and they naturally take longer to digest so should have the effect of feeling fuller for longer. For example you would exchange white rice (high GI) for wholemeal rice (lower GI), cereals for porridge, jacket potato for new potatoes etc etc ...

wishing you luck with your journey :)


soon to be skinny minnie
S: 16st8lb C: 16st1lb G: 11st0lb Loss: 0st7lb(3.02%)
Hi hun, i think healthy extras a free for children too, now i am sure there is something on the sw website for teenagers and what they can eat following sw. Check with your consultant as kids defo get much more than we do. If that is the case you could give him some toast on banana for a snack, or some toast on low sugar jam or something, oh or soft cheese x
I would talk to professionals about ur concerns sometimes children over eat because its a behaviour they get used to but if there are no medical complications then it can be easily resolved. I work with SEN children and we also control their eating does he understand visual symbols? I have lots of ideas if you want to pm me I can try and help but you may have tried some ideas urself


Spam Hunter
S: 17st12lb C: 12st4lb G: 10st10lb BMI: 27.3 Loss: 5st8lb(31.2%)
The answer to this really depends on a lot of factors. If he really is hungry then lower GI foods that are slow release are the way to go but if he is constantly hungry then speak to your doctor about it.
Some children with special needs need more routine than other and need clearly laid down guidelines for instance, set times that you eat need to be stuck to. Try, if you don't already, setting an association with eating times like turning off the TV and sitting at the table rather than snacking in the middle of whatever he is doing. This will tell him that when the TV is turned off is when it's time for food, maybe after a particular show he watches regularly?
Of course that totally depends on the nature of his special needs, professional advice may not be a bad idea


Gold Member
S: 16st6lb C: 9st6lb G: 9st6lb BMI: 24.1 Loss: 7st0lb(42.61%)
Hi, my son is very similar to yours with autism, speech and language disability and associated learning difficulties. He eats lots but has a very limited number of foods that he will accept - he is overweight.
The dietician was not helpful in so far as getting him to eat less food because it's a behaviour rather than me not knowing which foods he can have that are healthy. Also, I've been told by the child psychologists that he doesn't know when he's full because he gets different signals to other people. I've also been told not to refuse him food if he asks as that will only add to his anxiety.
As your son will eat lots of different things perhaps you could try the slimming world quiche as snacks, homemade soups, sugar free jelly, mini babybells (as HEA).
I hope the SW diet is successful , good luck, it's very difficult.


Full Member
S: 12st5lb C: 9st1lb G: 8st5lb BMI: 24 Loss: 3st4lb(26.59%)
Thanks for the replies. I've seen dieticians and they are so very strict about limiting the amount of food eaten. They were basically after watching calories and healthy eating. With my son it's just so difficult to limit the volume of food.

I've also spoken with my son's psycologist and she has come up with some ideas. I'm going to set up a visual timetable including symbols for snack times and meals and try to get my son used to the idea that eating isn't an all day thing. My son already uses the PECS method of communication, but at a very basic level. I have a board with photos of snacks, drink, toilet, etc and my son will bring a picture of what he wants to us. So far he only uses this for things that he is very highly motivated to, ie food. I also sign in Makaton to him and he can do a few signs but he cannot do most signs.

I'll check with my consultant about what he can have on SW. Unfortunately I can't control what he has at school or respite, but they are aiming for healthy eating. At least I can try to stick with the plan at home.

When I'm sure he can't possibly be hungry, I do put my foot down and refuse to give him any more and after a little tantrum he accepts it. If he's hungry he will get extremely distressed. This happens if a meal is late and he will be halfway through eating it before he starts to calm down.

I know that sometimes he eats because it's something he likes doing but other times he's hungry and finds it difficult to cope with that feeling.

I think I will be able to manage to his eating, but it will take a very long time to change his behaviour due to his learning difficulties. In the meantime I want to give him healthy food that will satisfy him without making him gain weight.

When he's hungry, he's miserable, but when he's satisfied he's a really happy, cuddly little boy who loves to sing (vocalise loudly) and laugh.
what we did with one is take a photo of ur plates x3 with gaps in between
we introduced a timer 1min and wait symbol
so he had something to eat(small) timer (1min) another plate, timer, then final plate. if he can tolerate a symbol timetable timetable his food so ur introducing a pattern we do this this and this then snack. our kids at school have small meals at regular time 10.30, 12 and 2 but for kids that weight is being monitored portions are controlled
if he's at school or for that matter respite they should be all doing the same thing if this is ur wishes, do you have annual reviews where multi agencies get together? if so discuss ur wishes there. There is a condition called prader willi but I'd have thought this would have been identified before now but have a look on the web site
S: 11st3.0lb C: 11st7.0lb G: 9st7.0lb BMI: 27.6 Loss: -0st4lb(-2.55%)
I'm afraid I don't have anything to offer in terms of experience for you, but I just wanted to say that I'm really impressed with your determination to do the best for your son under really difficult circumstances.
It must be so tempting to give in to his every demand but I applaud the way you are approaching it. By feeding him food that's as healthy as possible, you're doing the best thing and hopefully the other techniques mentioned will pay off in the longer term.

Is he able to be quite active? I'm just wondering whether there's anything you could do to balance out the food he's consuming, by getting him to move around more and burn off some calories?


Full Member
S: 12st5lb C: 9st1lb G: 8st5lb BMI: 24 Loss: 3st4lb(26.59%)
Thanks for the great advice, Tracey. I'm pretty sure that David doesn't have prada willis, but the psycologist said that his reaction to hunger might not be fully developed so he might be more like a baby that screams when it's hungry.

I think the main reason we have got this problem is that when he was very young he ate loads but was as skinny as anything. We had no problem giving him lots of snacks because he burnt it all off. As he has got bigger he has become less active and so has put on weight. However, the behaviour is now entrenched and will be difficult to change.

But I am going to try to structure his day more and include eating in that. I am going to use the same symbols that he uses at school although I'm not sure whether he can deal with symbols. If not, I will change to photos. We have always been strict about having meals at the table. My son will eat a huge meal and normally will be quite happy with that but sometimes he will still go to his board and ask for a banana or biscuit.

I just don't think I could manage six smaller meals a day for him. Although I could try a small meal for him when he gets in from school as he's always starving, rather than lots of snacks.

I have regular review with school and respite and they already know about my concerns over his weight. They are supposed to be healthy eating but I'm pretty sure that not everything will be healthy as they are on strict budgets. However, I do know that my son has fruit and vegetables foor snacks, but he probably has some biscuits and crisps at respite.

Taz, we already only use wholegrain rice, wholewheat pasta and wholemeal bread. We do have new potatoes with the skins on and jacket potatoes. The other day for lunch I did him a huge bowlfull of wholegrain rice, tuna, sweetcorn and chopped green pepper and tomato. That still didn't seem to last him very long.

At least with SW, I now have lots of healthy food for my son to snack on. Hopefully over time, with more structure, his eating habits will improve. I am terrified of how I am going to physically manage him when he is a huge teenager. He's very strong now and he's only eleven. When he's a teenager he will still be a toddler in his mind and will need a lot of physical handling. I have a bad back and I just hope I will be fit enough to cope. I am very fortunate to receive a lot of supoort from social services but if I need more when he's bigger I don't think I'll get it as I already get a lot more help than other families. Keeping my son's weight down will be extremely important in how I will be able to cope with him in the future.



Full Member
S: 12st5lb C: 9st1lb G: 8st5lb BMI: 24 Loss: 3st4lb(26.59%)
Eternity, I really feel for you. I have a lot of friends with autistic children and know that the problems they face are so much harder than mine.

It must be so frustrating to be told to give him what he wants to eat even though he is overweight. Have you tried any of the sorts of things that Tracey has suggested? I know that children with autism thrive on structure.

I wish you all the best with your son.



Full Member
S: 12st5lb C: 9st1lb G: 8st5lb BMI: 24 Loss: 3st4lb(26.59%)
Helliecopter, it's difficult to get my son to be more active. He won't walk very far and will just refuse to walk and drop to the ground. We have to take a wheelchair with us when we go out. He loves to go swimming but I can't take him on my own as he's too much. We do go at weekends when we can.

Physically, he's like a toddler and is tottery on his feet. He has trouble placing his limbs in the right places when climbing. He used to love his tricycle but developed a greater sense of danger and now is too scared to sit on the saddle. He doesn't even like going on fairground rides or donkey rides.

He is not completely sedentry but he could do more. I will have to try to think of more activities for him that will give him more excersize but not make too many demands on my back in supporting him.

well im truly impressed(not patronising) uve gone down lots of avenues and you are thinking aboiut the future too but I feel you should have more support via school, respite and other professionals are there any local support groups in ur area? I work with asd kids with challenging behaviour what is ur sons diagnosis? i WISH YOU LOTS OF LUCK AND IF I CAN BE OF ANY HELP JUST YELL(oops sorry caps by mistake) Your very determined so I know you will succeed


Full Member
S: 12st5lb C: 9st1lb G: 8st5lb BMI: 24 Loss: 3st4lb(26.59%)
Thanks for the help, Tracey. My son, David, is undiagnosed and is like a giant toddler with very limited communication skills. I get a lot of support generally but there isn't much specific to managing his weight. The dietician was useless but I'm seeing the psycologist again to see how using a visual timetable is working.

I am one of these parents that gets involved in everything. I'm treasurer of David's schools PTA and have a great group of friends through that. We regularly get together and go out for lunches and meals. I am also a parent governor there and an LEA governor at the secondary school David will be going to in September. I already know David's new school very well which has vastly reduced my anxiety about David leaving his current school which he has been at since he was two and a half. I am also a parent representative on the local authority strategy planning group for children with disabilities and I get involved with lots of other things. I even recently became qualified as a Makaton Local tutor.

On top of all that I am an employer. I employ two carers through the Direct Payment scheme. The council gives me the money and I have all the responsibility of recruiting carers, paying their wages, tax, national insurance, holiday pay, training, etc. I have the same responsibilities as any employer and have to have employers liability insurance. However, despite all the tremendous hassle having my own carers is a godsend and the benefits completely blow away the hassle. During the holidays my carer has David two days a week. We either go out together or she takes him out with her family. During term time she babysits one night a week and my husband and I can go out together. I have another carer who has David one Saturday a month. This is on top of seven nights a month residential respite. I am extremely lucky to have so much support, but I was in the right place at the right time and I know how to shout loudly and I try to be as informed as possible.


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