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Sneaking/hiding food and signs of overeating in your kids?

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#1 Thegymbum



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Posted 13 July 2020 - 05:31 PM

Wondering if anyone here has dealt with this.

Lately I’ve had issues with my 3 year old sneaking food and just in general being deceptive with food. Having struggled with an ed most of my life, obviously I’m very concerned and want to handle it the best way possible to help deter future issues.

She’s been getting extra snacks and sweets from the pantry whenever she eats a chance; I’m pretty vigilant and usually on top of it, but she ALWAYS wants more and is much more interested in food than what’s healthy for her age. She’s even snuck downstairs in the night and done things like eat several fruit bars while I’m sleeping... I’ll spare going into more detail, but it’s suddenly been red flag after red flag. She’s dishonest about it, too... usually if she gets in trouble for something, she’s brutally honest and always admits when she’s done something wrong. This is very new. It’s JUST the food.

So one part that’s been very difficult with the situation is that I only have partial custody and she’s with her dad a lot more than she’s with me (which I hate for a lot of reasons but for now that’s the way it is). His strategy: there’s a lock on the pantry and a lock on the fridge. That’s it. He doesn’t try to talk to her about it (and he’s even less communicative with me than he normally is- he’s actually said shit like “you’re the one with fucked up food issues, why should i listen to you?”, and implying that it’s entirely my fault that this is happening and using it against me... so fucking hard and like I don’t has enough guilt without him reminding me). He’s just yelled at her and used time outs rather than rational discussion. Between that and locking the food up, I’m just really worried about how to handle it and if this is just going to make it worse.

Of course he’s telling me I need to do the same- he thinks he “solved it” by locking up food, and says if I don’t, it’ll be like “mommy’s house is where you eat a lot and can get food”, neither of which is desirable.

Any advice? I’m at a loss. I want to discourage overeating and want open communication. I want her to be able to tell me she’s hungry and needs more and be able to discuss why a healthy snack and moderation is appropriate. She’s barely 3 so discussing it rationally is tough lol but I just feel at a loss. Obviously if we lock the food up it helps prevent it to some extent but what happens when she eats older and what happens when she has a play date at a friends house? Is locking up the food just making food seem more charmed and potentially going to lead to future binge eating problems?

I guess I’m just looking for some guidance here on what I can do to help when she’s with me.

TLDR: my 3 year old is stealing food, sneaky when it comes to food, always wants to eat, and my ex/her dad things he can fix it by locking the food up and I need some guidance!
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#2 Achelois


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Posted 13 July 2020 - 10:23 PM

Could it have started out as something like she is getting ready for a growth spurt and started to eat everything?  Then out of fear her dad overreacted and it snowballed?


That sounds like a really intense situation between you and her dad.  Hard to keep things constructive when he is saying things like that.

Edited by Achelois, 14 July 2020 - 06:36 PM.

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#3 indicats



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Posted 08 August 2020 - 03:14 PM

disclaimer: i'm not a parent, i just lurk here but i think this is normal for kids. all my siblings and i snuck extra snacks and sweets whenever we could and we had perfectly normal relationships with food at the time. i remember all of us sneaking down at night to get to the shelf which had the sweet stuff hidden. my younger siblings still do this and my mam has to hide the chocolate bars from them ahaha - prob just a growth spurt tbh, up to the age of 12 i was alwaaaays hungry and i would literally eat slabs of butter on my bread


the real problem sounds like it's her dad, he seems frustrating to deal with. i think locking it up might cause more issues than it solves but i don't have a solution for u. maybe a counsellor or pediatrician could give a professional opinion? good luck x

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#4 Beautifulstrggl


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Posted 30 December 2020 - 02:09 PM

I think this is normal as my kids do the same. I don't lock the food up, but put the treat-type stuff out of reach. I think as long as you continue reinforcing that we only have one snack between meals and only one treat per day (or whatever), and disciplining however you choose when she does sneak (because she will, and again, I think it's normal), it will get better in time. I too would feel weird about locking up all food, it does seem like it could moreso lead to an unhealthy relationship with food. Your ex sounds like an ass, I have one of those too *hugs*

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#5 NataliaXx



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Posted 04 January 2021 - 07:01 PM

I highllly recommend to not make it about healthy food then food with lots of cals. There is a incrediably high chance of children following there parents path. Make sure shes not hoarding food or trying to restrict until they are hungry and then steal the food. 


Try say things like "Noo you need some food to help you grow strong, this food will only make you tired and grumpy" no talk about weight or calories. Don't restrict in front of her, h oarding or collecting food is a symptom of ed I had since a child (before I even knew I had an ed). Try to pretend you have a healthy relationship with food.


There is also the chance that its just normal :) Always give her access to fruit, thats what my parents always gave me when I wanted chocolates and things. Then she will always be able to eat something sweet whens shes hungry

#6 Leeludallas



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Posted 08 January 2021 - 05:51 AM

Mom of 2, I feel like young kids will naturally have a pretty healthy relationship with food. Most of the food hang ups are things we build as we get older, although restricting food access to a really young child can create these problems. As others have said, make fruit and veggies easily available, maybe even an air popped popcorn or something similar. Also, make sure she gets plenty at meals. Sorry about her dad- he sounds like he’s making it worse.

#7 hummocado


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Posted 08 January 2021 - 06:48 AM

A child is born with intuitive eating. Unless she has some sort of specific genetic disorder, her hiding food is a direct result of restriction of some sort. At some point, she didn’t trust that she could feel satisfied. It happened enough that she (or someone else) began to doubt her instincts...and the binge/restrict cycle begins. I think your gut is right. Blocking her off more is just going to increase her desire.

Highly recommend the book “Child of Mine” by Ellyn Satter. Grounded in science and teaches parents how to raise children with healthy relationships to food. Maybe you could pass it along to her dad?
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