My bullied eight-year-old just eats junk

My eight-year-old daughter is being seriously bullied and kind of blackmailed at school, and I can’t get any sense out of them. She’s awaiting a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome.

She’s ravenous when she comes home from school, so I have to feed her sandwiches and crisps as soon as she comes in. Now, this week, I’ve found that her packed lunch is always given away to other kids, who threaten her.

Information is difficult to get out of her because she thinks all this bullying is OK, and the teachers say she has ‘friends’ but these are the children who are taking her packed lunch.

I know she eats too much in the evenings, and she is, I admit, becoming overweight. This makes her yet another target for bullying. From the moment she gets home at 3.45 to when she goes to bed at 8.45, she eats continually – crisps, biscuits, cakes, her evening meal, chocolate – anything. It’s like she’s fuelling up for the next day.

In the morning we don’t have much time, as her dad and I work, but she does have several rounds of toast with honey and a cereal. In the evenings our meals are usually burgers, or pizza, or pasta, usually with lots of cheese which she loves.

She won’t eat vegetables, even though the dietician at the hospital says she should. She says she doesn’t like the feel of them in her mouth.

I don’t know what to do next. Should I approach the parents of the children who are stealing her cheese sandwiches and her chocolate bars which I have to put in her packed lunch because she won’t eat anything else? Or should I persist with the school? The dietician doesn’t seem to have much clue about why we can’t stick to a ‘healthy diet’ for her. Fact is, she refuses to eat ‘healthy’ food and she has to have tomato ketchup on everything. For Sunday lunch she just eats the roasties, the Yorkshires, a lean bit of the meat, and sometimes peas.

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Because I try to wrap our evening meals around hers, my husband and I are also both overweight, too, and I can’t see it getting better.

Barbara says: Right – we have a problem. We have a girl who may be on the autism spectrum, and is certainly food faddy, as many of them are because they prefer bland foods, who is being bullied because of her vulnerability and her weight. Let me tell you – if she’s on the autism spectrum she will ‘buy’ friends in any way she can.

Giving away her lunch is par for the course and only liking bland foods, is also absolutely in line with everything we know about Autism Spectrum Conditions.

First thing – ask the school to protect her during lunchtime, to make sure she is eating her food and isn’t giving it away. Second – don’t buy crisps and chocolate at all, and cut down in the cheese you use. Introduce her to new foods slowly.

Chocolate and cheese encourage a feel-good hormone, and many people crave them when they’re depressed or ‘low’. You need a sensitive dietician. Also, you don’t HAVE to adapt your eating habits to that of your daughter. Give her eggs for breakfast, and maybe a slice of ham or grilled bacon, if she’ll eat it. Eat your usual Sunday lunch and cut down her stodge. You can do this!