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Dd taking sweets biscuits etc for 'secret eating'

(22 Posts)
Pendrive Thu 19-Jan-17 08:45:15

I'm just not sure what to do about this and would welcome advice. My dd, aged 8, keeps creeping into the kitchen and taking lots of sweet treats to eat secretly in her bedroom after we've tucked her in and gone downstairs. I keep finding the evidence tucked away in her drawer, her dressing gown pockets, etc. Last night I looked in her bed and there were loads of chocolate crumbs where she had sneaked a bar of cooking chocolate upstairs.
I have told her not to do this, because it seems she is eating quite a lot and I've explained that it is bad for her teeth and her health in general to eat too much sugary stuff. She is a normal weight btw. I've explained she can have things like that during the day, but we eat in moderation and she is to ask me so that I can make sure she's not having too much, or too close to mealtimes.
We are not particularly strict about sweet stuff. She doesn't have sweets, chocolate or biscuits everyday. Prob 3 or 4 times a week. We try and be relaxed about it.
So I've told her now three times that she mustn't just take food, but she is still doing it. She had cooking chocolate because we have removed other sugary stuff from house, after she kept breaking her promise.
Now the things that I'm concerned about are avoiding making this a huge issue, and turning her into a secret binge eater. Also, dh does not have much self control when it comes to food (or most things). He will chomp his way through a massive sharing bag of crisps before he knew it. He does loads of running so is a healthy weight, but the salt levels!!! I'm boringly moderate and I'd like to know how to help someone who might have their dads greedy genes to learn self control.
So I'm minded to keep sweet stuff locked away, and just to be low key about it rather than beng too cross 'you disobeyed us....'. I've told her we are disappointed in her for not living up to her promise.
Sorry this is so long. What would you do.
She is a happy well behaved girl.

Pendrive Thu 19-Jan-17 08:46:47

Also, my mil had bulimia as a child which makes me a bit paranoid about this issue!

AWaspOnAWindowInAHeatwave Thu 19-Jan-17 08:51:44

Do you think it may be more a "pushing the boundaries" issue as opposed to purely a food issue? Perhaps she enjoys the thrill of sneaking down and the possibility of getting caught, and getting back to her room scot-free with her goodies? I'd be minded to put a bell on her bedroom door so you can hear when she's sneaking out, and deal with it in a low-key manner (just casually walk up the stairs and say, "oh you're out of your room, where are you going?" If she answers "toilet" then she goes to the toilet and returns to her room, you then go back downstairs). It won't take her long to realise she's not going to get down the stairs unchecked!

Pendrive Thu 19-Jan-17 08:59:15

Yes that's a good point. It might be the thrill of it. She has onl recently heard of 'midnight feasts' and was really excited by the idea. But her first midnight feast when she had a sleepover at a friends was an apple. They loved it.
I think I'll try that approach you suggest. Hopefully she'll get bored.

claraschu Thu 19-Jan-17 09:08:41

Yeah, I think it's probably good if you see the hiding and sneaking as fun and exciting, not as an eating disorder precursor.

I think that with a child her age, I would probably just not keep biscuits, sweets and crisps around the house (or if I had them, they would be really and truly out of reach and forgotten about). I would also make a real effort to keep sweets and junk food in general from being seen as treats or rewards or particularly special in any way. I think this is hard to pretend about, so probably both of you need to believe it, and is sounds like your husband is a bit of an addict (maybe because of his mum's issues with food).

Also, maybe you can make sure that she a satisfying snack fairly close to bed time. We make a delicious and relatively healthy version of hot chocolate (using various unsweetened nut and soy milks, cocoa powder, cinnamon or vanilla, and just a bit of rice syrup). It is very frothy and not extremely sweet. This is just an example, though.

Catherinebee85 Thu 19-Jan-17 09:08:45

You could be describing me when I was little and now I'm an obese adult. Even down to the cooking chocolate blush I continue to be a secret eater and a binge eater which in my view is reflective of my disordered relationship with food.

I saw my mum secret eat and I was rewarded with food in my younger years. To me food is comfort and it was my lack of self esteem that I think caused me to seek comfort in food.

Interestingly my dad was always like you in his relationship with food and my mum sounds a lot more like your DH. I really think it might have helped for me to be encouraged to talk about things and for the focus to be switched away from the food issue. I really think it would have helped if I hadn't seen my mum secret eat/binge eat so maybe your DH could adjust his eating whilst she is around at least?

Try not to punish her. I was slapped for stealing an ice cream from the freezer and it was the opposite of helpful in that it just made me feel more shame. X

Pendrive Thu 19-Jan-17 09:17:32

Thank you, really helpful posts. I will have a good think about what you've said.

TeaCakeLiterature Thu 19-Jan-17 10:54:42

Just sharing my only experience of this - my brother used to do this a lot exactly the same as you've described. He ended up with a really unhealthy relationship with food and lying in the end and became extremely obese.

It might be worth tackling the cause of this sooner rather than later incase it's more than just exciting midnight feasts.

My parents were lost as to what to do with him as it progressed from stealing sweet stuff and eating in secret to anything he could find: bread slices even

Pendrive Thu 19-Jan-17 11:18:07

Hello. Very interesting to hear your experience teacake and Catherine. THIs is what I want to avoid. I think I will start by having more one on one time with her in case something is on her mind. I will continue to remove the worst of the sweets.. haribo type things but maybe look into what are the best of the sugary treat type things. Your idea re healthier hot choc could work really well here Clara.
It's either that she just loves sweets and wants to eat more than would be reasonable, or it's just fun to have sneaky treats, or something is on her mind and this is a comfort type thing. So I'll try a multi pronged approach. But I think the important thing is not to be angry re the hiding eating thing, and also to make sure she has lots of healthy food so is not hungry (she is a bit underweight at the mo). She di

Pendrive Thu 19-Jan-17 11:24:03

Whoops posted too soon..
I wondered if anyone had read any good books on encouraging a healthy relationship with food, or new of any good websites. I don't want to make a big issue of it with her but want to nip any probs in the bud, especially before she gets to teen years!

Ebbenmeowgi Thu 19-Jan-17 11:36:45

I used to do the same at her age, i was a really fussy eater and total chocaholic. I just grew out of it and developed a very healthy attitude to food eventually (have healthy diet and v slim as an adult now). I'd say keep an eye on your dd to see if it starts getting out of hand, and don't store treats in the house if you can help it!

Pendrive Thu 19-Jan-17 12:15:35

Thanks ebben! That gives me hope.

grannytomine Thu 19-Jan-17 12:21:43

My daughter had real problems with food when she was young. She had a viral infection and went off her food and just seemed to decide she didn't need to eat. Lots of worry, threats from doctor of hospital admission when she was 4 and 5 if she lost more weight. We saw a different GP and he got her, he had a daughter with the same name funnily enough and the same problem. He said give her what she wants and never comment on food in a positive or negative way. She lived on chocolate for a while and then gradually started to eat other things.

Not the same as your daughter of course but I think no comments on food is good for a healthy relationship with food, no encouraging or praising and no criticism.

If it is the illicit thrill then I'd offer her something like a glass of milk and a couple of biscuits to take up to bed with her. I quite like a warm drink and a biscuit when I'm reading in bed and I've never had a weight problem and I just find it a nice way to end the day. If she looses interest you know it was just the thrill and if she enjoys it well maybe she is peckish at night. You could balance it with reducing treats in the day and pick a healthy biscuit, well healthier. Jaffa cakes aren't that high in calories but make a nice snack and not bad for crumbs, a consideration if you eat in bed.

Violetcharlotte Thu 19-Jan-17 12:34:46

If she's a healthy weight and eats normal, healthy meals I really wouldn't worry. I used to do exactly this as a child, just because I liked sweet stuff, nothing more complicated. I was a perfectly normal weight as a child and just grew out of sneaking treats when I got into my teens. I would just suggest not having too much sweet stuff in the house so it's limited what there is available to steal!

ArcheryAnnie Thu 19-Jan-17 12:38:04

All I'd add to this is that if you police the eating of someone who has an odd relationship with food, then it actively makes it worse. This includes telling off, locking stuff up, etc etc.

You say she has biscuits, etc, 3 or 4 times a week. What would happen if she had a couple of biscuits every day, allowed rather than sneaked? At least she'd be brushing her teeth afterwards.

I have a bad relationship with food, and my DS has an excellent one, and it's been very difficult for me not to project onto him. He's a teenager, can wolf half a packet of bourbons down within minutes of coming in from school starving, or will turn down chocolate and sweets (or pudding, if we are at a cafe) without a thought if he doesn't fancy it, which he often doesn't. I wish I could be like that. So, I try to back off altogether and let him regulate himself - he gets good sensible meals, and can eat what else he likes on top of that, as long as he brushes his teeth. I am, ah, sturdily built, and he's a long tall drink of water, BTW.

I went through a stage of this. Sneak dirk grab loads and eat it all at high speed. I'd scoop all the wrappers under my bed. My mum knew but she didn't say anything surprisingly. I ate my meals which were healthy and grew out of it.

My mum talked about it with me recently. It came up in conversation.

Downstairs! Not dirk grin

Pendrive Thu 19-Jan-17 15:48:40

Oh sweet don't-step I can imagine dd doing this. I notice no one has said I should tell her off for doing things she has been told not to, which makes sense as it makes it a big issue.
Most of the time I feel like I can make my own decisions about parenting, but some things I just feel a bit lost about what to do for the best.
We're so bombarded about the evils of sugar and obesity that sometimes I get confused about what to do for the best, especially when I think about mil weird relationship with food.
Thanks for your help all, I really appreciate everyone's viewpoints.

TeaCakeLiterature Thu 19-Jan-17 18:07:37

In terms of what you've said about no one saying tell her off I agree I think with you.
My parents used to tell my brother off for stealing, lying about it etc etc and he just kept hiding it.

I'd be inclined to broach the issue and try and find out why in a non-judgemental and safe way so hopefully if there is a problem she feels safe to tell you either in that occasion or in future depending on how she feels etc

INeedNewShoes Thu 19-Jan-17 18:17:42

I wonder whether it would be helpful for you to take her out to a nice cafe for a drink and piece of cake (to set the scene that you do not have an issue with her enjoying sweet things as a treat) and then have a calm conversation about the issue.

Ask her why she hides the fact that she is eating from you. If she knows that its bad for her, talk about how she will actually enjoy eating these things more if she has them less often and enjoys eating them rather than stuffing them in quickly in case she's caught.

And I would actually point out that she is being badly behaved by disobeying you telling her not to eat in her room and that eating in bed isn't very nice.

Hmm... I'm not sure if what I've said is any help at all.

I was like this from around the age of 10 onwards (I even took money from the jar of change my mum kept and snuck to the shop to buy sweets with it and I was otherwise a very well-behaved child). I did get fat, managed to lose the weight before uni then had a phase of being a bit too obsessed with my diet. It took me until my late twenties to develop a healthy attitude to food.

TeaCakeLiterature Thu 19-Jan-17 18:23:00

I like that idea of going for cake - shows it's a treat and you're not admonishing eating those kinds of things in the right setting etc!

But yes - it does need to be addressed if she's breaking rules of not eating in bedroom...but as you've acknowledge already: good to try and find out the cause whilst also showing it's not necessarily the right thing to do but you're being understanding and supportive at this point

TeamRick Thu 19-Jan-17 18:34:58

Is she actually hungry? If she's a healthy weight and not over eating at mealtimes would it be worth offering her a glass of milk, or something healthier about an hour before she goes to bed. She could at least clean her teeth etc.
Obviously if she's not actually hungry then that's a different matter.

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