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Daughter stealing food - could this be a sign of an eating disorder

(21 Posts)
a1s2d3 Thu 19-Jul-12 11:32:05

My eight year old daughter has started stealing food both at home and school. I say "stealing" because she is secretive and attempts to hide wrappers etc. afterwards. It is the secrecy which is really worrying me, plus the fact that she has gained lots of weight recently and is now overweight.
I'm certain this has nothing to do with being hungry. She can help herself to the fruit bowl at home and I try to encourage her to do this if she is hungry, and to take a piece of fruit to school for morning break. It is never healthy stuff that she takes though - always sweets and chocolate.
We are trying to focus on feelings and reasons why, so have asked her why she is doing it, and she says she does not know. We try to encourage her to think about how the children whose chocolate she has stolen feel etc. We are also talking to her about healthy eating, healthy choices and trying to support her to develop some self-control but at present she has none. We've also got rid of any temptation in the house so there are no more crisps, chocolate or sweets around. How do we balance this with helping her to develop self-control though?
School have arranged a referral to the School Nurse Team. I suspect I may just get the standard healthy eating advise though, which I already know. 8 seems so young to be thinking about binging and compulsive eating. Am I over-reacting?

bradbourne Thu 19-Jul-12 11:41:22

My mum always used to "police" what I ate, so I took to hiding food (and binging whenever I got the chance). I took a long time to overcome an eating disorder.

It's counter-intuitive, but I think you should maybe allow a few cakes/biscuits/sweets around the house and allow her to have them from time to time. The forbidden fruit always seems much sweeter. And, in your case, I wouldn't keep asking her why she does it... she almost certainly feels ashamed (hence the hiding) and may find it difficult to articulate her reasons in any case.

bradbourne Thu 19-Jul-12 11:48:22

I also meant to add, don't comment on what or how much she eats. Ds was getting a little plump so I cut down his portion sizes slightly - but without saying anything. He never noticed. And try to up her excercise/activity levels, but without "going on" about the health aspects (let alone the weight aspect).

amillionyears Thu 19-Jul-12 11:50:57

agree with everything bradbourne says.

TrinityIsAFuckingRhino Thu 19-Jul-12 11:53:22

Totally agree with bradbourn

TrinityIsAFuckingRhino Thu 19-Jul-12 11:54:12

Oops sorry, missed your e smile

wannabedomesticgoddess Thu 19-Jul-12 12:03:02

There may also be another way to look at it. You are placing the emphasis on the food but what if the emphasis should be on the actual "stealing".

Just a thought really. I think both sides of it need to be addressed. I say this because my mum was strict with food and I often found myself still hungry. But I never sneaked food!

amillionyears Thu 19-Jul-12 12:08:48

Just had another thought,which the School Nurse Team may may be worth checking out with the GP that she is not diabetic.I think I am right in saying that one of the types of diabetes require the diabetic to have lots of sugar in their diet.

a1s2d3 Thu 19-Jul-12 12:25:22

Thanks for all your helpful comments. Bradbourne I know I can be a bit controlling (!) but we've previously been fairly relaxed about food. We always have had a few cakes/biscuits/sweets around the house and she has always been allowed to have them from time to time, so I'm struggling to understand why she started binging on them and hiding things. I've got rid of them only recently to try to remove temptation - but I fear that this won't help her develop any self-control. At school she has been taking chocolate from her classmates' lunch boxes in the cloakroom.
Useful thought about diabetes - hadn't considered that.

bradbourne Thu 19-Jul-12 19:10:04

I wss thinking aboout thsi a bit more this afternoon..

You say she's taking chocolate from other children's lunchboxes. Obviously, that can't be condoned and I think that is slightly different from sneaking biscuits out of the biscuit tin at home (or whatever). But that did make me wonder... what does she get in her lunchbox? If her lunchbox is full of carrot batons and apples, whilst her friends are eating crisps and chocolate ( exaggerate) , does she somehow feel "deprived"?

exoticfruits Thu 19-Jul-12 19:29:00

Are you making a 'big thing' about 'good' food and 'bad' food?
Do you diet-have issues about food?

Are you following the same diet as your DD?

a1s2d3 Sat 21-Jul-12 22:21:47

She has school lunches. The menus look great and everyone says the food is lovely. And no, I don't think I have food issues. I love food and it's a big part of family life. I'm not on a diet. I don't even know what I weigh. We eat well. Plenty of indulgences but balanced with healthy stuff and exercise. It is all home cooked and often home grown. Puddings and cakes feature but not constantly. My daughter doesn't have as many sweets and chocolates as some children, it's true, but she does not go short on treats. Sorry but you are barking up the wrong tree there.

Scarredbutnotbroken Sat 21-Jul-12 22:30:30

The stealing I can't comment on as I Judy don't k ow but the other stuff rings a few bells.
If you only allowed me fruit as a snack now I'd have something to say about it - not filling enough to stop me thinking about choc 5 minutes later and no caffeine boost etc either. What's her carb intake like?
Does she sleep well?
What is her temperament like?

exoticfruits Sat 21-Jul-12 22:36:28

I would check out the medical side-there could be a problem.

a1s2d3 Sat 21-Jul-12 22:37:06

Her carb intake is massive. She would happily eat nothing else. She sleeps like a log. About 10 hours. Temperament alternates between happy sunny little girl, and thunderous fury when not allowed to do what she wants. Can be difficult but she is only 8 after all,..

Scarredbutnotbroken Sat 21-Jul-12 22:49:40

Was wondering if it was an early hormone thing?

MarianForrester Mon 23-Jul-12 19:14:19

Without wanting to go all psychobabble, i reckon it may not actually be about food as such. Control? Unhappiness? Worried about something?

I would maybe try to get some professional advice? It must be very worrying, but hopefully could be dealt with ASAP and things improve.

exoticfruits Mon 23-Jul-12 19:28:44

I would deal with it as soon as possible-start with GP and a medical problem.

fledtoscotland Fri 03-Aug-12 19:16:18

Just wanted to add that your daughter sounds a lot like my childhood. We had very healthy food - all home cooked and a lot of it home grown. I craved processed "normal" food that my peers had. I used to sneak in crisps/chocolate/tbh anything that my mum wouldn't buy.

I have had massive issues with food and eating throughout my adulthood mainly surrounding cravings for junk food.

Talk to her about why she is wanting to have this food. It could be medical (diabetes/hormonal) but definitely separate the issues of stealing food and bingeing

SocialButterfly Sat 13-Oct-12 17:34:54

My dd started doing this, she would get up early, eat lots of biscuits/ sweets and hide the wrappers down the side of the sofa. We saw the school nurse who was worst than useless. In the end I said she could have a cooked breakfast if she didn't sneak any food in the mornings. I then started to make bagels and hash browns or scrambled egg on toast etc for her and it seemed to break the cycle. She now generally has toast in the morning and cooked breakfast ever few days.
I know this is slightly different but the main thing I realised was that it had become a habit, she felt compelled to take the good even if she didn't really want it.

SocialButterfly Sat 13-Oct-12 17:35:29

Food not good

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