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Running and Eating

by Brenda
(Airway Heights, WA USA)

My daughter is 12 and in cross country. This is her second year running and last year she ate and ate, understandably that she is burning a lot of calories.

She is in 7th grade and 5'6 and very thin. Since she has been running this year, she says she is not hungry, and doesn't eat very much. She eats a very small breakfast, lunch at school, and very light dinner. They are healthy, but is there anything to be concerned about? Thank you.

running tips
Answer by Anissa:

Thank you for your question regarding the amount of food your daughter is eating.

As the mom of a young daughter too, I understand your concerns.

Being a 12 year old girl is a challenging phase of growing up, there is a lot of pressure to "fit in" and be thin.

First of all, at 5'6", your daughter is quite tall. So take that & pair it with being a runner, it makes sense that she is very thin. You didn't mention her weight, so what you might consider to be very thin could actually be within the normal range for a 12 year old girl of her height.

She very well could have been going through a growth spurt last year, which may have contributed to her increased hunger & need to eat, eat, eat. Girls go through a major growth spurt between the ages of 8 to 13 (puberty). If that was the case with her, she may not be going through anymore growth spurts right now which would explain why she wouldn't be as hungry.

From what you said, she is eating and it sounds like the meals are healthy, which is good. Young kids who have healthy eating habits usually become adults who have healthy eating habits.

If you start to notice the following red flags, then there is certainly valid reason for concern & a need to seek professional help.

  • Sudden or dramatic weight loss

  • Stops having her period (this is usually in conjunction with severe weight loss)

  • Makes excuses for not eating

  • Feeling cold all of the time even though the temperature is normal or no one else feels chilly

  • Becomes defensive, denies or withdraws if you express concern for her health

  • Eating rituals, such as cutting food into tiny pieces or spitting food out after chewing

  • Distorted body image – thinks she's fat even though she's far from it

  • Odds are though that your daughter is a normal, healthy 12 year old girl who is just experiencing the "ups" & "downs" of puberty.

    Best wishes to you,

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