Take the 2-minute tour ×
Parenting Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for parents, grandparents, nannies and others with a parenting role. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I give my daughter lots of healthy foods, including those that have fiber in them. She gets veggies and fruits, proteins, dairy, she has a water bottle with her wherever she goes and yet this week she is waking up in the middle of the night hungry and honestly wanting food as well as needing something to eat almost every hour during the day.

Breakfast often includes eggs, sausage, ham or other such foods (often in an omlette, frittata or quiche. We do oatmeal a lot along with some fruit or a yummy shake and once a week or so we have muffins, pancakes or waffles (which almost always have a little flaxseed thrown in. She loves both the eggs and oatmeal and eats plenty at breakfast.

Lunches usually include a homemade burger (I have a recipe that includes blackbeans, soy and ground beef together I use), deli sandwich and/or some sort of soup or chili (especially this time of year). This is also when I might do what most people in the US would have for Dinner. Stir Fry (again, brown or wild rice or a mixture), Porkchops and root veggies, Meatloaf and mashed potato. We might also get something at McD's or Panda Express if we are out and about (she loves the orange chicken). Almost every sauce I make has veggies in it as well as what she eats on the side. One of her favorite veggies is broccoli so she often asks for half veggies/half rice when we are eating at Panda Express.

Dinner is often a lot simpler and might be rice (I never use white) and beans, a nutty cous cous concoction that is a family favorite that includes a little quinoa with the cous cous and pistachios or something more traditional like spaghetti (without all the extra trimmings though) and a side of veggies such as roasted squash or zucchini, green beans, peas and carrots. . . (you get the idea).

I don't do desert very often, but she does get chocolate milk some of the time (2%), has access to candy (but rarely chooses to eat it - seriously, I don't even tell her she needs to ask anymore) and when we are at the theater often gets the "less healthy" stuff for dinner because we are out OR I'll pack sandwiches with carrot sticks, jicama and fruit and a cup of pudding or yogurt.

She is six, tall and skinny, and pretty active, so this is not an over-eating thing (or an infant thing). I don't believe it is medical because there is no genetic history of such things and we've actually gone through similar periods of time before. The pattern often is that it lasts about a week or so. Then, she suddenly grows some (and we have to pull out the hand-me-downs in the next size) and then her appetite goes back to normal.

In the past, having some extra apples and grapes around (or other fruits) along with some yogurt or cheese and a piece of toast or crackers for her to grab has worked. She also can make herself a peanut butter sandwich at any time really (and I'll help with other ideas if she wishes for them). The getting up in the middle of the night so hungry she can't get back to sleep part is new though. I'm expecting it to pass any day now (and to suddenly need the new PJ's, shirts and leggings I got to put in presents under the tree sooner rather than later) but in the meantime I am starting to get concerned about her sleep.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. Pre-bedtime snack ideas that are healthy to try? Tricks-of-the-trade for helping her sleep even after she gets hungry? A Snack that won't be bad for her teeth and gums she can just have by the bed so she doesn't even have to get up and can fall back asleep faster? . . .

UPDATE:

8:30am ate 3 servings of egg, cheese, sausage fritata that also contained zucchini, and summer squash. Along side had a smoothie with yogurt, spinach, strawberries, blackberries and a banana.

9:35 - "Mom, I'm hungry. Can I have some yogurt raisins and an apple?"
"Sure Hon. Do you want a bowl of peanut butter to dip your apples in?" "Yumm. That sounds good mommy."

11:00 - "Mom is it time for lunch yet?" Daddy responds, "Do you want to go get a burger? - Have a little Daddy time?" Apparently she ate all but two bites of her cheeseburger and a sizable amount of fries.

1:30 - "Mom, did we have lunch? I'm hungry." She had a little chocolate milk and a pear with a small handful of crackers and a few slices of cheddar. Half an hour later we added a granola bar.

Just now - "Mom, I'm hungry again."

FINAL Update: without a lot of change, but with a peanut butter and jelly protein shake (and the diet outlined above) just before teeth brushing and bed - she slept Really Well last night YEAH!!!!. The shake had crunchy, all natural peanut butter, frozen strawberries, Greek Yogurt, spinach (I know - but she likes one I make with spinach and pineapple in it and when I was making it said, but mom what about the spinach?) and soy protein powder in it.

By bed she was SUPER tired anyway, and she has awoken with visibly longer legs (when viewing where the cuff falls) than the ones she started the day with yesterday morning. Can't really tell if its anything we did differently or if it was just time, but I'm keeping all the ideas in mind and getting some great ones on the cooking site too. I'm sure it will come up again.

share|improve this question
1  
I'm not seeing proteins in your lists of foods, just carbs (fruits, veggies, crackers, etc). It seems like you're not doing meat, or at least didn't mention it, so maybe some high-protein foods like peanut/almond butter sandwiches (also has fat, should help feeling full). Or are there proteins on the list that I missed? –  mmr Dec 1 '12 at 21:24
    
Agreed, there's not a lot of meat substitutes on that list, as far as I can see, apart from the cheese. I'm attaching a link to the NHS guidelines on raising vegan/vegetarian children: nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/… –  deworde Dec 1 '12 at 21:45
    
Thanks @deworde and mmr. We are not vegetarian, I just didn't think to list things we have with regular meals - I was listing the "Snacky stuff" she has free access too at almost any time. I'll check out the NHS guidelines though because we don't eat a lot of protein at dinner (our biggest meal is breakfast). Maybe it will have some good ideas to incorporate with dinner that will help. –  balanced mama Dec 1 '12 at 22:23
2  
If she's going through a growth spurt, keep in mind that her entire body might be aching too, which can making sleeping difficult. If she's not sleeping well, then she'll be awake long enough to be hungry. –  KitFox Dec 3 '12 at 13:18
add comment

2 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

As mentioned in your comments, perhaps giving her a high-protein snack pre-bedtime. An egg maybe or even a protein shake. You could make a pretty awesome high-protein, pre-bedtime smoothie with peanut or almond butter, yogurt and/or milk and a fruit of some kind.

We know that eating protein helps to sort of stave off hunger by increasing the hormone that is responsible for suppressing our appetites. Since carbs are digested and metabolized rather quickly by the body, Alice probably doesn't have a whole lot of fat stores for her body to fall back on once its burned all its carbohydrate fuel. There are some pretty good foods that are easy to throw into your dinner plans that don't include necessarily adding meat (which I know we struggle with because meat is sometimes tough on growing jaws): legumes (we like red beans and black beans around here) which work great in chilies or with rice, quinoa is a somewhat-new favorite around here and can easily replace a grain. The texture is a little weird and can take some getting-used-to. Cheeses are obviously easy to throw into most dishes. Plus, throwing some nuts and seeds into her snack-time repertoire could help too. Especially since it's the holidays and getting your hands on macadamia nuts, cashews, and the like is super easy this time of year.

It certainly sounds like she's going through a growth spurt, and you're probably right, she'll probably get through it in a few days. Let us know how the added protein helps.

ETA: I was cruising around looking for other information about foods that help you feel fuller longer and I ran across this article. The article discusses a study performed in 1995 where a researcher in Australia created "A Satiety Index of Common Foods". Using a 240-calorie portion of white bread as a baseline, the researcher gave 240-calorie portions of various foods to volunteers in the study and then asked them to rate their feeling of fullness every 15 minutes over the next 2 hours. White bread had a satiety score of 100 while potatoes (they don't specifically mention which kind of potatoes. I'm guessing red potatoes) had a score of 323. Anyway, the article goes on to discuss various other food types known to help with that feeling of fullness (whole grain!). Be aware though, the article is clearly written for companies in the food manufacturing industry and devolves pretty quickly into a discussion on various additives that companies can add to their new products to help their consumers feel fuller longer. Anyway, I imagine if you bulked up her whole grain intake (making spaghetti, for example, with whole wheat pasta) and added a little more protein to dinner she'd be good to go.

share|improve this answer
    
Great post, but if you're going to use protein shakes, make sure you read the ingredients. In general, food is better than nonfood. –  5un5 Dec 3 '12 at 23:43
1  
@5un5: I agree, but I'm offering as wide a variety of suggestions as I can possibly formulate in an attempt to not only respond to the OP, but make the answer useful to other parents who might have a similar question. In a pinch, a decent protein shake is not a terrible option as long as the parent is aware of what he/she is giving to his/her child. And some kids don't like eating right before they go to bed. My daughter will drink practically anything I give her, but isn't so keen on actually consuming food shortly before bedtime. –  Meg Coates Dec 4 '12 at 4:23
    
@MegCoates Mine either! –  balanced mama Dec 6 '12 at 19:56
add comment

Looking at her diet it is actually too healthy! Children should get half their calories from fat, and have high protein levels as well. They should get their veggies to be sure, but stoke her up on high energy, long-lasting stuff that "sticks to your ribs" as my grandfather said. Chuck some cheeseburgers and fries her way!

Good dairy fats are something easy to work into a diet. Try giving her full-fat greek yogurt with a spoon of jam, honey, or agave nectar in it for flavor. Cheese is good, so work that in with some home-made macaroni and cheese with some meat and veggies on the side.

On the carbs side long-lasting carbs would be good as well rather than processed ones. Real oatmeal made with full fat (whole) milk is a good breakfast option as it is slow-release. Home-made or artisan bread made with flours like rye, spelt, oats, etc are much better than the artificial junk that masquerades as bread in the supermarket these days as they are far less processed. Brown rice rather than white.

Really it's just getting the balance between fats, protein, carbs, and fruits and veggies right. Once she's full up and putting on some weight you can work in less fats. It doesn't matter what time of the day she eats them, as long as she gets the right calories sometime during the day she won't wake up hungry.

share|improve this answer
    
I gave a little more detail. Would you please check it out and see if you still think I need to add more of the "unhealthy stuff." I seem to have given the impression that my snack examples are all she eats. Wondered if, after the added detail, you still think she needs more fats. –  balanced mama Dec 2 '12 at 17:13
3  
@balancedmama - Even after your detailed list, her diet looks very low in fat. The fattiest things on your list are the sausage, ham (maybe), meatloaf (depending on how it's cooked), and milk. It doesn't have to be "cheeseburgers and fries," but those foods are an easy way to add fats. Try cooking your stir fry in olive and/or coconut oil, using either as a dip for the veggies, or even cooking things with butter to help add fat into your other meals. Since she loves fruits and veggies, see what she thinks of avocados, too. –  Shauna Dec 3 '12 at 16:46
    
@balancedmama, just a suggestion but you could ask a question on the cooking stack about good ways to add healthy fats. I'll answer there too ;) –  GdD Dec 3 '12 at 16:49
    
@Shauna LOVES avacados! Perhaps because it has fats she isn't otherwise getting. We do use good old-fashioned butter as a spread on toasts and things and I usually use olive oil for cooking. I'll go over to cooking for more ideas thanks! –  balanced mama Dec 3 '12 at 17:06
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.