Feeding the Nighttime Gremlin: Unraveling ADHD and Food Desires

The Familiar Story of Late-Night Cravings

If you’ve ever watched the classic 1984 movie “Gremlins,” you might remember the infamous rule: never feed them after midnight, or chaos ensues. Well, it seems like my son embodies those fluffy creatures – full of energy during the day, but a ravenous nighttime gremlin. He insists on eating before bed, even when he claims he’s not hungry. If I ignore his cravings, he scours the kitchen in the early morning hours, searching for anything that doesn’t fall under the “healthy” category.

The Frantic Quest for Midnight Snacks

Silently yet swiftly, his feet guide him down the stairs and into the kitchen. He leaps onto countertops, rummaging through cabinets, exploring every nook and cranny. It’s as if he’s a pirate on a treasure hunt, and nothing can deter his determined pursuit. Bags of cookies are opened with a satisfying crinkle, cabinet doors are slammed shut, and then he retreats to his bedroom, happily munching on his captured loot.

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If he were searching for an apple, a carrot, or even a sandwich, his late-night escapades would simply be noisy. Unfortunately, he craves cookies, donuts, potato chips, or any other junk food hidden away in our house. This sets him up for the worst possible start to his day. Although I try to hide the treats, he always manages to uncover them somehow. And when he finds the junk food, he indulges excessively, leaving behind a trail of crumbs reminiscent of Hansel and Gretel.

The Pre-Bedtime Routine

As bedtime approaches, I begin my usual routine:

“Are you feeling a bit peckish? What would you like to eat?”

“I’m not hungry.”

“Are you sure? How about a half bagel? A banana? Some pretzels?”

He insists, “I really don’t feel hungry.”

But the truth is, it hardly matters. His ADHD medication suppresses his appetite, causing it to rapidly fluctuate between hunger and indifference, almost like a lightning-fast transition that occurs while preparing a bowl of cereal.

I persist with my questions, asking things like “What did you eat? Are you full? Did you finish everything on your plate? Are you absolutely certain you don’t want more?”

Sometimes, he genuinely feels hungry but is too distracted or uninterested to prioritize eating. He might be engrossed in a book, perusing his baseball card collection, playing a video game, or exploring YouTube – typical activities for someone his age. When it’s time for dinner, he declares that he’s famished. However, as soon as I call him to the table, he takes his food back to whatever activity had captured his attention. Later, when I inspect his plate, I find only a few bites missing from his meal.

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“I thought you said you were starving.”

“Oh yeah, yeah.”

“Then why didn’t you touch your dinner?”

“I ate the tomatoes?”

“That’s great. But what about the rest of the meal?”

“I will. I will.”

“You’re going to be hungry.”

“I said I’d eat it.”

“When?”

“Soon!”

“You’re going to be hungry.”

“I said I’d eat it. Let me finish (insert the name of the current activity).”

Occasionally, he reluctantly takes a few forkfuls of food, especially when I threaten to continuously nag him until he complies. Eventually, he leaves his partially eaten meal in the sink, claiming, “I ate as much as I could.”

The Predicament of Appetite and Medication

Ideally, I should make him sit at the table until he finishes eating. It would not only help him gain a few pounds but also put an end to his early morning kitchen raid. However, he argues that his ADHD medication sometimes makes him feel nauseous or overly full. So, how can I force him to eat in such cases?

Consequently, I find myself constantly reminding him to eat, coaxing him to take another bite or another forkful. I hope that he consumes enough to satisfy his hunger and prevent him from waking up like a gremlin, rummaging through the pantry for a bag of Doritos.

Image of a Nighttime Gremlin

Image source: [Original Article]

Conclusion

Navigating bedtime cravings and managing ADHD-related fluctuations in appetite can pose a challenge. As parents, we strive to strike a delicate balance, ensuring our children receive proper nourishment without compromising their well-being. Whether it’s dealing with a midnight gremlin or a hungry tween, understanding the underlying factors at play helps us guide our children through their unique food experiences.

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Image of a Parent and Child Sharing a Meal

Image source: [Original Article]

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