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Au pair gorging on food

(23 Posts)
WonderingWillow Tue 26-May-15 10:43:12

Does anyone have an experience with this?

During her placement; our au pair has become fairly obsessed at regular intervals with new eating plans etc; she wanted to do paleo at one point and ate six large chicken breasts in one day. After that she went down to 2/3 large ones a day, plus 3/4 fish fillets. It's healthy I guess, but the amounts were huge.

But other foods become an obsession; she can go through packs of chocolate and crisps (like multipacks) in a few hours, and her latest crush is diet coke. 30 cans in a week.

We can afford it, and she's slim enough (although unsurprisingly she has gone up and down a bit!) but I'm wondering if anyone else has had experience with gorging on food and how they approached it; or whether they just left them to it. The only aspect that gets me is the fact that she sometimes takes it all and leaves hardly any or none for us. She seems oblivious.

She's leaving in a few weeks, but if it crops up again I'd like to know if it's normal; and I should just keep my mouth shut, or if I should take steps to deal with the root cause. She does come from a poor family; so I'm wondering if she's had her food intake restricted and now it's just a bit of exercising freedom?

Theas18 Tue 26-May-15 10:50:13

Seems like just pushing the boundaries to me, though of course it could be some form of eating disorder.

I thought you treated au pairs like a big brother/sister ? so I'd say" this is what we eat - mainly healthy food an occasional snacks - of course if you hate something we wont make you eat it but we don't support extreme eating plans as it's really not a good example to the kids .... I have bought snacks to last the week -a multipack of crisps and a pack of twixes so you've got enough for one of each a day and a 12 pack of coke, if you want more you'll need to buy it yourself and when it's gone it's gone"

FannyFanakapan Tue 26-May-15 10:51:39

Why doesnt she eat with you?

I think I would insist on your next Aupair eating what the family eats. You can of course include some treats that you know she is fond of (one of ours liked a particular type of cheese, another was into a certain biscuit, and its nice to buy something for them, as you do for other family members), also provide an alternative if you are planning something that she does not like (one of ours didnt like lamb, so would have chicken or fish on lamb days).

Id also implement this now for your current aupair. By all means, buy 6 cokes, for example, and any more, she needs to buy herself. For new au pairs, ask them upfront if they have any dietary requirements, then everything else is wants, not needs. As long as the aupairs are eating a healthy balanced and tasty diet, with plenty of filling foods, and access to bread/fruit, then all the faddish things need to come out of their own money.

ImperialBlether Tue 26-May-15 10:53:40

Who is buying this stuff? 30 cans of coke in a week? I can't think I'd buy more than a six pack for someone. I think you're supposed to treat them like a member of the family - what would you do if your teenage daughter wanted to drink 30 cans in a week?

It's incredibly selfish of her to leave hardly anything for the rest of you. I'd have a box for her things if she did that and tell her to leave everything else alone. Or when you buy things say, "So that's 3 per person, okay?"

Mrsjayy Tue 26-May-15 10:56:54

If my dd was eating like that id say something the girl is faddy eating it isnt healthy imo not sure what id say tbh dd was no carbs clean eating for a while i found it difficult and expensive to feed her she bought some of the food herself could you suggest that to her

WonderingWillow Tue 26-May-15 11:23:55

fanny she does have the option; but I get home from work at 6 so she often prefers to eat earlier with DS (nearly 5) which is of course fine. We eat together mainly at weekends.

I bulk buy from Costco (hence the 30 pack of diet coke; it was a bargainous price!) and because there's so much of everything it probably enables it. But those 12 chicken breasts are meant to last.

Yy to the 'clean eating'. It's very expensive. I support a healthy diet, but it can be exhausting. However; because of the amounts, I am wondering if it's based more on her experiences at home. DH said he was also pretty much constantly hungry at her age (19, 20 in a couple of months).

WonderingWillow Tue 26-May-15 11:26:25

It's very hard because most of the food is 'healthy'.

Would you say 'these 4 chicken breasts and 4 fish fillets are yours for the week. Anything else you buy on top?' But then with diet cokes etc, would you section some off in the fridge marked up just for her? And how many?

I wonder if that might just look controlling on our behalf.

Mrsjayy Tue 26-May-15 11:28:47

There is hungry and there is faddy multipacks of crisps and 30 cans of cola is a lot can you buy bottles instead

WonderingWillow Tue 26-May-15 11:30:43

It's just completely bizarre and there's no pattern to it; she'll switch and latch onto something new every few weeks and then gorge herself on it.

RightSideOfWrong Tue 26-May-15 11:34:33

I drink a lot of Pepsi max - I live off the stuff, I drink barely anything else - but I buy it myself and I don't get through 30 cans a week. I'd be worried about my insides at that level! A 25 pack lasts me a week and a half usually. Although I probably don't drink enough.

I think I'd give her a budget and let her shop out of it if you don't want to police her eating habits. Then she knows what she has to "spend" for the week.

WonderingWillow Tue 26-May-15 11:35:46

mrsjayy yes like I say; she switches focus every few weeks and latches onto something new. I've been buying 30 packs of diet coke for months; no problem and they've lasted until the next Costco shop.

She also takes stuff out to friend's houses, but when they come here they don't bring anything confused she gets well paid; £150 for 25 hours a week and a gym membership paid, plus Oyster card.

DH thinks its the novelty of having loads of food around suddenly; and that we've seen a spike because she is leaving soon.

She is a lovely girl and does her job very well; but unfortunately she is quite selfish at times to live with.

WonderingWillow Tue 26-May-15 11:37:09

I only mentioned her pay as well so people can see she has a good disposable income; so it wouldn't be beyond her to provide her own snacks when she has friends over/goes to them. Does that sound unreasonable?

sugarman Tue 26-May-15 11:38:36

This is exactly the sort of thing that makes having an au pair so tricky.

She is an adult, but she is young and far from home and family so it is only kind to show concern as you would for a family member of the same age.

But what to do? It must surely. Be that she has an eating disorder yet how do you help without it becoming very awkward?

I cannot imagine how this would be succesfully managed. <helpful>

WonderingWillow Tue 26-May-15 11:44:26

Sugar to be honest she goes in 2 weeks and DH is a fan of the idea of just giving it a damn good ignoring and bringing the idea of being a team player with regards to food with the next one when we have our welcome meal.

sugarman Tue 26-May-15 11:47:17

Yes I think I would go with that plan.

Let's hope the next au pair is free of food issues

Mrsjayy Tue 26-May-15 12:28:09

Just set the rules out for your new aupair its a shame this girl is like that but looking at it seems a combo of faddy weird maybe disordered eating and her talking advantage of you she has money for her own treats

FannyFanakapan Tue 26-May-15 13:49:57

Are you sure she is not feeding several friends?

ImperialBlether Tue 26-May-15 14:17:54

I'd put a stop to her taking food out of the house when she's going to friends, unless it's clearly just for her.

You have got to think what's reasonable - for most people if someone in the family has eaten everything, it's reasonable to say something about it! It's no different in her situation.

As for the diet Cokes, bugger that - I wouldn't buy any more until she's gone. Thirty in a week is really bad - bad for her and bad for you, financially, too.

WonderingWillow Tue 26-May-15 14:32:16

fanny it has crossed my mind.

She's here for 2 more weeks and we are only in our second year of au pairing... It's all a learning curve! We didn't really cover it in our welcome chat because we didn't think we needed to; like not being greedy was a fairly obvious thing; so that was our oversight really! We will definitely cover this for the next one.

Thank you so much for all the quick replies; much appreciated.

yetanotherchangename Tue 26-May-15 15:04:21

I think you should be finding out what your caring responsibilities are if you suspect your au pair has an eating disorder. Perhaps the agency could help put you on the right track?

WonderingWillow Tue 26-May-15 17:43:30

Possibly. I think it's probably more an issue of food not having been plentiful at home (she has alluded to this on more than one occasion). However; I think an eating disorder, once diagnosed by a GP (or possibly even suspected by the host family) would be grounds for returning the au pair to her home country to receive proper help on home turf.

It's an interesting one though, and something I'll look into for the future.

anotherbloodycyclist Tue 26-May-15 17:56:39

It's tricky. We have had many au pairs and only one who had similar issues. It wasn't the cost that bothered me, but the fact that nothing would last. Things bought for the whole family for the week, eg breakfast juice, would be gone by day 2. If I bought chicken breasts for dinner they would be eaten at lunch, followed by a proper dinner with the kids. She had 2 massive dinners a day and refused to entertain the idea of a sandwich.
The following year I put a note in the welcome pack for our new au pair saying to help herself to bread, ham, cheese, fruit, crisps, soup etc for lunch and that we ate our main meal in the evening. Felt a complete twat being so anal, but I got completely fed up of h and I eating pasta again because our evening meal had been eaten, and never having any treats because all the biscuits had been wolfed. I'm sure your next one will be fine but it's worth laying down any ground rules. Being part of the family is about sharing and not being selfish.

ImperialBlether Wed 27-May-15 15:01:24

There are not many homes where the food is that plentiful, though! In how many houses could you eat six large chicken breasts without the rest of the family losing out at some point in the week? When you buy food you think of the whole family and you should do that when you're eating it, too. It's really bad manners to eat everything that's there without considering anyone else.

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