HELP!!! Child Sneaking Food What Can I Do??

Updated on October 16, 2017
J.L. asks from Winnemucca, NV
13 answers

I have a 12 year old child, who by no means is starved(3 meals a day, and at least 1 snack, sometimes-most times she has second when its dinner time.) She is out growing me. I don't know how to stop the sneaking, when I do catch her doing it she lies to me, which makes me even madder(I instantly see red!). I have put a key lock on my pantry to keep her out of it, now she has started getting into the refrigerator and the freezer(we have a side-by-side and a chest freezer). How do I put a stop to this?? There are cases of over-weight family members on both sides of the family and I worry that that is where we are headed. I have tried time and time again to explain this to her, she says things(like she doesn't want to be that way) but her actions show the exact opposite. Could all of you wonderful mothers out there please help me, I just don't know what else to do! It seems as if I care but she doesn't- all I want to do is cry over the situation, there has to be help but where do I find it??

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers



answers from Los Angeles on

Eventually you'll need to remove the lock. The lock makes her want it even more. Does she like any sports, excersice classes, yoga, the WII (video game system)? Start getting her involved with different things to see what peaks her interest. She's probably eating out of boredom. How about family workout activities make it fun. And finally, cut back on buying the snacks. I started buying the 100 calorie snacks for my son and dilute his juices with water. They won't know the difference unless they see you do it. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Los Angeles on

You don't say what she is sneaking. Is it grow food or junk food? This would help to answer your problem.

My kids are 4 and 6.5 and can get what they want from the fridge/pantry. I started this when they were about 18mos old - the pantry, not the fridge and just made sure and still do that the foods at their reach are good for them. In the pantry, the bottom shelf had green light foods, middle shelf yellow light foods and very top - red light foods. We currently don't stock any junk so they can eat what they want. My point here is, because we started young they eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full. No emotional/bored eating happening (unlike the way I was brought up). So first we need to know, what she is eating and then why. Is she bored? Is she hungry? Is she copying someone else in the family? Does she eat in front of the computer/TV? Do you restrict what she eats - meaning she only eats what you serve her those 3 meals and the snack? Is she eating enough? Serving a protein/healthy carb (fruits & veggies), and a healthy fat (nuts,avocado, olive oil, etc..) should be served at each meal. Plus plenty of water. This will give her a very well balanced diet, plus not make her feel hungry like a lot of processed foods do. Not that you are feeding her that way, I don't know what she is eating so I'm just throwing some stuff out there. Hope this helps,

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Don't make it a crime to eat. Forbidden fruit is enticing. Instead keep sugary, high calorie, high fat foods out of the house, and if she wants to snack, intentionally leave available healthy snacks. You can give her carrot and celery sticks, baked trisket crackers, low fat popcorn, fresh fruit, fat free yogurt, etc. There are tons of choices. Put fruit and veggies in snack sized baggies in the fridge or give her popcorn bags and let her pop them herself. Give her a few whole wheat crackers and slice of fat free cheese.

It would be good to get her out exercising. A walk after dinner with her would give you time to connect in a more positive way. Take Care!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

my kids do this too and it drives me crazy because then they don't want to eat meals. so we have a fruit bowl they can have anything in it anytime they want. (you would have to eat a lot of apples to be full) I also tell them to have a drink first usually water sometimes almond milk -lactose intolerant in our house- then if you are not hungry for dinner the snacks are limited the next day.this gives them more control of what they eat and i know it is good stuff.
when she is looking around you could try to give her something to do like art work or painting her nails she might be bored. i don't know if any kid doesn't go through the bored stage at this point in summer.

I wouldn't worry so much about weight for now like others have said. My mom never ever said anything about our or HER OWN weight while we were growing up and me and my sister have never had a weight problem even after children. My step sister lived with us 1/2 time but her mother did make weight a very big issue and she has big issues now with weight.

talk about being healthy not being over weight. you want her to be proud of her body no matter what size. when you love your body you have a better desire to take care of it, and again be careful about control that is how many girls start having eating disorders. these disorders are much more common than people realize.
good luck with those teenage years

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

You did NOT say IF your daughter "is" over-weight or not, or IF her Doctor says she is.

Next, if your child is hungry, how come she can't eat without 'hiding' it?????
She Obviously has food-hang-up's already.... or is so self-conscious of her eating that she "has to" hide it because she knows of your attitude toward food and her figure.

Kids at this age, get growth-spurts AND increased hunger.
Just this summer, my 6 year old girl was eating every 2 hours. LITERALLY. She would say "Mom, I"m hungry..." or, "Mom, I'm starving..." and just eating 1/2 an apple wasn't enough... she needed SUSTENANCE. I checked with our Doctor and she said its completely FINE and normal... she is growing exponentially. And yes, my daughter grew SO much this summer like a bean pole. I couldn't believe it.
She needed the increased intake (food) to keep up with her body and growth.

We... allow our kids to eat when they are hungry. They naturally SELF-regulate. They KNOW when they are 'full' or 'hungry.' They do not eat for 'emotional' reasons. And they eat healthily. We don't have junk food in the house except for what guests may bring. We do not 'control' their eating... nor lock the fridge, nor regulate 'when' they can or cannot eat. We don't use food as a 'consequence' or 'reward' either. We treat food as food.

I'm sorry, but I don't understand why her eating makes you so upset??? You didn't say that she was obese or had a weight problem, or that she had health problems. So, how come she cannot eat, if truly hungry?

Did her Doctor order her to eat only sparingly????? Did her Doctor say she has an eating problem???? Did her Doctor say she is abnormal????? Did her Doctor say exactly that she is 'fat'????

I would think, that the best thing would be to take your daughter in for a check-up. And then, assess her TRUE condition health-wise and weight-wise. THEN, go according to what the Doctor says... instead of going by your 'fears' of what your relatives weigh and if they are or are not over-weight. The LAST thing you want to do... is give your Daughter a 'food' hang-up and a psychological problem related to eating. The MOST UN-healthy thing for her to do....would be to adopt an eating disorder. Right?
She is already hiding food... this is not real, positive. For her. She should not 'have to' hide her eating.

All the best,

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

The theme of the month is longitudinal studies.

Here's a short breakdown of some reeeeeaally interesting ones involving the current trend for obesity. (These studies have been going on for over 50 years...tracking some several hundred thousand girls in Europe.)

- ALL girls "chub up" for 6-18 months in the beginning of puberty.

- Girls who are "allowed" to...melt the fat off without trying (aka diet or exercise) during an approximate 3-6 month period
- Those same girls experience little to NO difficulty maintaing a healthy weight throughout their childbearing years (the studies only have a fraction of their participants past menopause at this another 20 years we'll know about post menopausal weight). Little to no difficulty translates into no conscious dieting, or an exercise routine designed to lose weight...some exercise, some do not...but a healthy body weight is maintained, none the less.

- Girls who are "not allowed" to chub up (dieting, maintain a prepubescent figure) struggle with their weight for their entire pubescent period.
- Those same girls experience a GREAT deal of difficulty maintaining a healthy weight throughout their childbearng years (aka dieting, exercising for weight loss). The majority of these women are overweight, although some keep their weight in a healthy range by consistent hard work, or by physically demanding jobs...but if they lose the job, or quit working...almost immediately become overweight.

If you look at literature from approximately 70-100 years ago and longer (when women typically had MUCH smaller figures than they do today), you will notice 3 trends:

1) Children were not considered sexy (this is inclusive of the *early* teen years...and extended to dress...children tended to be dressed in 'boxy' clothes...until aproximately age 16...when girls first started wearing 'women's fashions'...which highlighted waist and bosom.

2) Girls were discouraged from activity during their pubescence (although certainly worked/played hard before and after)...during early pubescence they were transitioned away from the rough and tumble play of childhood...but were not yet allowed to go to the exercise-type activities of older girls/women (essentially hours long dances, social engagements, horseback riding, paying jobs, etc.)

3) Skinny was not considered girls transitioning to womanhood were "fed up", to try and gain roundness to their arms/shoulders/hips/etc.

The whole irony of this situation, is readily apparant. the old way of doing things pretty much guaranteed skinny/healthy body weight...even though it was NOT what was desired...and the "new" way of doing things (diet and exercise) nearly always guarantees that women will struggle with the tendancy to be overweight their entire lives. for thought. I think most mum's given the choice between an "overweight" (aka PERFECT weight for pubescence) daughter for a year, or an overweight daughter for 40 years...would let their little girls get 'fed up' that year to have it all melt off and stay off for the rest of their lives. But that choice isn't often presented unless you run in certain academic circles. After all, it's not sexy, & can't be sold in the media.

Good Luck!

Oops...I think I should state:

Yes. I am a feminist. No. I do NOT think girls should have their activities curtailed during the pubescent years (heck, I was a competitive athlete during those years...if someone had taken the ocean away from me I would have cried the entire time.) BUT I DO think that girls should be allowed to eat appropriately FOR all these wonderful extra sports and activites that we're allowed to do, period, AND during those years...not kept on stringent diets that would make any boy's coach go to the parents house and start banging on the door demanding that they start feeding the boy right. Male pubescent athletes easily consume 4000+ calories a day and we don't blink. Girls on the other hand are restricted and restricted and restricted...because heaven forbid we have a "fat" girl. many boys doing the same events stay super skinny post pubescence...and how many girls sped the rest of their lives on yo yo diets? Hmmmm...

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

Beverly gave great advice! I remember being a teen and I was ravenous. I couldn't get enough food to eat. It is better to eat small healthy meals all day, than 3 big ones. Let your daughter have access to food, just make sure that it is healthy.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Hi J.:
You've already received some excellent responses,so I'll make this brief. I had 4 sisters,and all five of us,went through that awkward baby-fat stage in our early teens. Our bodies were changing,as were our appetites. Your daughter is sneaking food because she's been made to feel guilty for being hungry. She's trying to please you and feels pressured because you've pointed out family obesity.If you continue to stress the importance of looking thin,she may go the route many young girls are today. My Granddaughter told me,that she has several friends at school, that purge, on a regular basis.Some,because their mothers have pointed out their flaws,and others because of media exposure,magazines depicting slim, trim, young women.Within the next few years,your daughter is going to get taller,thus her body thinner. She will become more active,her metabolism will change and she'll burn more calories. Don't make the mistake,of making your daughter believe looks are more important than personality and smarts.Take the locks off,stop anticipating problems or labeling her and permit her to be a normal teen. I wish you both the best. J. M

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I remember being hungry all the time as a teen too. I think the teen body is going through so much growth, development and maturing.

I would get rid of all the high calorie, sugar and junk snacks. Let her have free access to fruit, veggies, whole grains, etc.

Try to add in some family exercise, like a bike ride or walk after dinner if you are still concerned about her weight. Teach her healthy eating and exercise habits now, and hopefully she will continue that path later
Good luck

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

Well, I can tell you my sister used to sneak food. We shared a bed and she would hide food under the bed and eat it at night. She would wait until I was sleeping and then you would hear crunch crunch.

Do you need to spread out her meals? Is she bored? Does she need to exercise to offset the snacking? Can you reward her with a fun snack for eating something healthy? It works for my 3 year old, but I don't know how long it will last.

I wish I could offer more.
Best of luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

I know that this is a difficult time for both of you. She has to lie, and you try to protect. Bet you that she said 'I don't know' when you asked her why she is sneaking. There in lies the problem. If she understood why she is doing it, then she could stop. No one can change, until they first understand the reasons behind it. Help her figure out why. Then you will understand too. Understanding will bring peace for and between you both. Once you get that far, you both may want to look at Weight Watchers. They have a very successful program for teens. I used the program and lost 100 lbs. If you would like to read more, please see my article at:
Wishing you both success - S.



answers from Minneapolis on

Between you and I, I know what you're going through. My daughter is doing the same thing and has for YEARS. It's frustrating and it's gotten worse. She snuck back into her school when her teacher was out monitoring recess and stole the candy off the teacher's desk. My daughter isn't overweight, I'm not worried about her weight issue. I'm worried that this is a compulision that will escalate into more serious things later in life. If you've found something that works please let me know.


answers from Tampa on

What ever happened with this situation? My youngest son does the same thing, and no offense to the other responses, but I found their answers to be from normal experiences and not from what you were describing like myself. I have had to put a lock on my pantry too, I tried the 100 cal snacks because he has a major sweet tooth so I at least tried to accommodate. He will get really involved in healthy eating and go right back to it soon after. But when he does get in health mode he tends to talk to me more like he wants me to be proud. What ppl don't understand about putting a lock on a door because your child is OVEREATING ....we aren't starving our kids(that's really offensive to assume it's the parents fault.) But my son has always been very emotional and I believe it's self esteem issues and/or wanting attention. It might be negative attention but it's attention. He s the sweetest boy but when I tell him I am going to go grab dinner, if I forget the key to the pantry, he will will run downstairs as soon as he hears the garage close. I've heard the door close when I'm in the shower when nobody else is home. And (this happened tonight) I told him me, his brother(who is so skinny he can't seem to gain weight no matter what) were going to go eat together. My younger son said he wasn't very hungry and asked if he could eat when I got back and get his food to-go. I was concerned by hi eating later but it was hot out and he just got in so I figured it was the heat curving his appetite. Well..I noticed soft pretzel salt on the dining table where he always sits and said something about it, looked in trash...there was the pretzel box right on top. Then I noticed breaded chicken crumbs on the kitchen counter I had just cleaned before leaving. I look in microwave and sure enough he cooked chicken and his brother said he was upstairs flushing napkins with chicken on them down the toilet. While he was in the shower I started searching his room, found a bag of chips in a shoe box, several wrappers, and on top of the food, I found a school progress report I had been asking about everyday. He claimed he couldn't find it, I had to write a note to his teacher saying he lost it and I knew the letter grade. Teacher emailed asking me about this letter and I found it in his book bag, he had tried changing the letter grade I acknowledged him having. He has been lying like this since he was a toddler. It's a full time job to monitor what he eats. Why would he refuse to go out to eat, say he isn't hungry to eat 2 garbage foods, and then eat a whole meal I brought home all in 1hr? He had me fooled too, I thought he was telling the truth so it really made me angry the more I found, and he swore to God it wasn't him. He will deny until you catch him red handed. And he starts doing overly nice things or acting out of character when I catch he got a sponge to clean up the table after he ate the meal I brought home(hes a boy, that never happens.) He starts talking a lot and tries to spark conversation to distract from you confronting him. He basically confirms my suspension when he does this. I have made a list a couple years ago for both kids for breakfast/lunch/ and snack ideas that are healthy they can make. I taught them to make smoothies to try an satisfy the sweet"milkshake" craving. They like that stuff but the youngest still lies. He is overweight and once a doctor said it right in front of him I thought it was ridiculous. I tell him just let me know what you want, it's ok to eat unhealthy here and there but you got to portion yourself, like pretzels and some grapes. He refuses. Now he is eating out the fridge and freezer, I found a lock but really hate having to do this. His brother is upset he gets no snacks because his brother takes them and hides them in his room. It's not about the kids starving, I'm not restricting what he can eat, I promise him if he is honest I won't get upset. When he tries to be honest I keep to my word but just because I don't give him junk does that mean I'm starving my child? No, it means I'm trying to avoid a lifelong struggle with eating habits. I've explained he will eat the way he does now in his adult hood when it's harder to change. I praise him for good efforts the whole nine. I never overly punish but am at the point I don't see any other way. It's happening everyday now and I can't keep acting like everything is fins and this new age "treat your kids like gentle little birds."When I was his age I feared my parents and I listened because I was too scared of what would happen if I didn't SO what the heck do you do when you try the nice way, you try the trust way, and now I'm just fed up! After 7yrs I think I deserve an award for patience. Please if you are not going through a child with compulsive lying do not reply with your "opinions" about teen growing hunger...I know and I take it into consideration.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions

Related Searches