~my thoughts about life~

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Food Thief

Help- we have a serious addiction in our home. My 3-year old is addicted to junk food. I'm to the point where I really don't know what to do with it.

It's too late to start placing blame. (Well, her dad totally spoils her and lets her have almost anything she wants...but you didn't  hear that from me.) Sometimes I feel like she's broken and unfixable.

We are far from an organic home that considers homemade applesauce to be dessert. Yet, I try to make sure my kids aren't out of control with snacks. For example, school lunches consist of a sandwich, piece of fruit, snack, and juice. A snack usually consists of 2 Oreos, an appropriately sized baggie of chips, or package of gummies. I feel like I've done pretty well so far. My boys have just recently started drinking caffeine and sodas are only consumed in moderation. Everyone is happy.

Then came The Junk Food Baby. She's been obsessed from a very early age. She wouldn't eat baby food of any kind, even fruit. Table food didn't go over well either. Her diet consisted of mostly milk for the longest time. Getting her to eat anything at all was a huge chore. Maybe that's how we got into this situation in the first place. When a toddler hasn't had a morsel of food in a full day, you're happy for her to take a bite of a muffin.

Now that she's 3, she can reason. She knows that junk food may only be consumed in moderation so she's taken to stealing food. She climbs up on counters, opens cupboards, and takes what she wants. I've found packages and remnants of food in her room, in the basement, and under the couch. We've moved the snack cupboard to a less accessible place, but that didn't stop her.

If her older siblings receive candy as a gift, at Halloween, or for any other reason, she steals it. They've yet to discover a hiding place she can't uncover. She'll get in their dresser drawers or in boxes on their bookshelves. This behavior is starting to seriously concern me.

Yesterday, I was enjoying my Sunday afternoon nap, thinking she was asleep also. Instead, she quietly took an extra- large iced sugar cookie from a bake sale and ate the entire thing. If I ate a cookie that size, I would feel ill. And I love sugar! When I was putting her to bed that night, I found her brother's identical cookie, half eaten, in her bed. When he finds out she ate his cookie, he is going to be irate.

I've tried limiting the amount of snacks I buy, but I don't see any reason to punish the rest of the family. Everyone else understands the meaning of moderation. Plus, I feel like if I totally forbid something, it will be desired so much more.

Something needs to be done. Quickly. With my basement stockpile of groceries, I always have snacks nearby. She has figured out how to open most packages. I'm afraid she's going to hurt herself climbing a shelf or using scissors.

I'm considering purchasing some sort of box that locks. I could share the combination with the other family members. She's too young to understand a combination lock anyway.

Any other suggestions out there? I'm tired of scolding her for stealing junk food. I've tried explaining and reasoning with her and have even spanked her. Nothing works. This time, I even tried something new and took away something she loves. That just breaks my heart though. I would rather spank her than "ground" her at this young of an age.

Until then, just consider me heartbroken, consumed with guilt, worried, and just plain frustrated. I need to get that little girl eating better before it's too late. I just love her way too much!

P.S. something I just thought to add- she's an extremely healthy kid who rarely gets sick, is very active, never listless, and pretty skinny.


Lisa said...

Well She, she sounds like me at a very early age, and my daughter. If there was a snack to be had, she'd find it. Both of my boys were bone thin and needed the empty calories. I never took away their snacks because of her. Now, I wish I'd thought it through. They didn't have to be denied the snacks that they loved. I could have only offered them as a dessert after dinner, and only in the quantity that could be consumed in one sitting. Cookie dough and cake batter can be frozen. If I'd only offered fruit and cheese as snacks and didn't have other treats readily available for her, she would not have had a source to attack. I would invest in the locked cabinet for their Halloween treats, etc. I wouldn't with hold treats from her. But enforce moderation. She can't get to what isn't there. Eventually she will learn how to self modulate and you will have done her a great favor.

Jo said...

O this is a tough one. I also have a daughter who's love for all food that is bad for you if consumed in large quantities. She'll be 10 soon and it's a problem. She also finds food or swap her healthy treats with her school friends for treats that are more up her ally. I have yet to come up with a way to curb it.

Even if I remove it from our house she makes up for it any time she is presented with it, which can be pretty embarrassing. I wish I had advice but all I can say is you are not alone!