Kid stealing food

Doreen - posted on 12/15/2010 ( 23 moms have responded )

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My sisters kid is visiting us - she is such a pretty little girl but she is really over weight.
I try and keep a bowl of fruit for them for when ever they feel peckish, but she soooooo over eats it is redicoulas. I don't know how to handle it - I do say things like "there is one for everyone" and "Sharing is caring" and all that nonsense but, she is stealing food behind my back and in between everything. She bribes my 5 yr old for her food & sweets. She has been to the doctor apparently since I last time suggested she might have a shortage or something medically "short". I don't think I should leave it but I also don't want to created a bigger issue when it is already a sensitvity. She looks so guilty when she eats - it's horrible. What can say or do to help her?

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Sharon - posted on 12/15/2010

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Distraction.

All the fat kids I know obsess about their weight, even when others don't. When they're in the public eye, they're convinced everyone is staring at them, mocking them, hating them.

A girl my son went to highschool with, HUGE. OMG a walking heartattack. She was only 17, had such a pretty face and was in competition with shamu for how large something could get.

She graduated early last year. I saw her recently. She's not skinny but oh man oh man she dropped a couple hundred pounds in less than a years time.

A little conversation with her... once she wasn't stuck in her judgemental peers eyes daily - she got some of her confidence back, found things she enjoyed and forgot about eating for boredom, for confidence and just did things she liked.

So keeping her away from the food and get her involved with things she likes seems like a good idea.

All little girls love horses right? Why not get her to volunteer with a horse rescue place? Or another animal rescue? There is so much work to be done, most of it small & petty, brushing long haired cats, dogs, scooping litter boxes, picking up toys to be washed, etc.

DON'T focus on the food. Turn the focus to other things.

Mrs. - posted on 12/15/2010

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I don't know how you deal with this and kids. I do know how I would deal with it if it was an adult. I had a bad eating disorder and used to binge eat in my late teens. I was never hugely overweight because I would either binge and purge or starve myself after big binge periods. What really broke things for me was removing the shame from the binge, therapy and following Geneen Roth's guidelines for compulsive eaters in books like When Food is Love. Basically, if someone you know has this problem and you see them binging, it's time to out the behaviour. I, too, would out myself if I was binging. Instead of hiding in my bedroom or stealing food from the kitchen late at night, I was only allowed to binge in full view of other, preferably telling them, "I'm binging right now because of (fill in the blank." Once the shame and idea of "bad" and "good" food was removed that helped. As well, I had to learn to eat only when I was hungry and stop when I was full. Usually, when I would binge on the out and out, I would usually end up discussing with that person why I was doing it and the binge lost steam. Eventually, I stopped and haven't done it for over a decade.

Now, I don't know about kids but I would think you might be able to do the same kind of things. If you see her sneaking food or binging with that guilty look on her face, talk to her. Mention that you see she's eating and that it is okay. Tell her, she doesn't ever have to sneak food at your house, that all she has to do is ask. All that you require is that she eats in front of you and you are able to talk to her while she eats. You might find you'll get a lot more milage that way.

Keeping busy with a passion is excellent too. Feeling good about herself may not happen that often.

Now, these are things you can do, I think without stepping on her mum's toes. You set the rules in your house and none of those rules will tread too heavily on the mom/daughter relationship. She may, however, feel that she has a place where no one judges her, she can eat what she wants but no longer feels the need to fixate or binge because the restriction and guilt is no longer in place.

[deleted account]

...I wouldn't be leaving food out :\ I would have a talk with my sister, too, and try to figure out what's going on.

Regardless of the cause, it's an eating disorder. The girl may be depressed, or bored, or just really really love food. Or maybe it's just hormones, or it's become habit to eat so much now. Once you stretch your stomach, it's hard to get it back down to the size it should be. I would know. I stretched mine horribly as a preteen. I had to practically starve myself (compared to the amount I ate before) to get my stomach back to the size it was suppose to be. But once I did that, losing the weight wasn't hard with proper exercise. I already had the diet down. I've slacked a LOT since graduating high school, but back then I think I had this unspoken rule to not eat more than a fist's size of food at one time. I'll be doing that again after I have my baby :)

But I'd take the temptation away, first of all. She can't steal anything if it's not there to steal.

Joanna - posted on 12/15/2010

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Honestly, I'd let her mother handle the situation. Your responsibility as her aunt is to love her, not give her health advice, that should be left to the parents. As long as she's with you, offer healthy snacks at certain times perhaps, like only an afternoon snack, etc. Other than that, bring up your concerns with her mom, let her know it's with love for your niece that you're concerned, but leave it at that. Otherwise I can see why she thought you were trying to criticize her.

Caitlin - posted on 12/15/2010

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Umm, the only suggestion I could make is stop making snacks available at all times when she is there and prepare a plate for each of them at a organised snack time, but I agree it should be looked into by a professional, there may be underlying issues..

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Jenn - posted on 12/16/2010

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Just to clarify - how old is she and how big is she and what does "medically short" mean? I'm not sure what I would do. Personally I think I'd talk to my sister if I was concerned about something with one of her kids - not the child directly - but that's just me. I do think getting her involved in some sort of activity would be a lot of help, the only problem is - is her Mom going to keep that going after she's done visiting you? Because really you can only do so much when you don't live with her full-time.

[deleted account]

I would be putting her in therapy to find out why she is eating so much. Usually over eating is a way to deal with something. A therapist would be able to teach her some coping skills that way she wont overeat.

April - posted on 12/16/2010

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I know of a little girl (can't say how I know her for identity reasons). She would look at everyone's plate and ask if they were done with it. She would also hide food, sneak food in her clothes. She was only about 6 or 7 at the time and she was a BIG girl. My mother, who is very blunt, flat out asked her why she eats so much. She told my mom that it makes her feel better when her parents are fighting. A few years later, her parents ended up getting divorced and she is now bigger than ever! In our case, there isn't anything we can actually do...her mom doesn't want to believe what's going on!

Sherri - posted on 12/16/2010

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Doreen then try some activities and see if there may be one she falls in love with. If she is more active she may forget about food so much. Didn't mean to offend.

[deleted account]

...Weird, I thought it was the duty of a family member to help other family members when they need it. Since when was family not about caring and being there for others and being concerned? I dunno about anyone else, but I think a person has EVERY right to get involved in her niece's eating habits if it means it's helping the girl. :\

I really hope something works for the girl. I know how she might feel and I know how you feel, Doreen. I'm in the process of trying to help my little brother out. He's overweight and eats sooo much, it's crazy. Our mom and I are slowly trying out new stuff to get him to calm down on the eating. It's not working too well yet, but it'll work eventually, I'm sure.

So good luck on it and keep trying. I'm sure if the girl is willing to stop, it won't be so hard. She needs strong people in her life and it seems like you're a good candidate for that.

Doreen - posted on 12/15/2010

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Thanks Rebecca - I think that approach is better suited to who I am and who she is. Much appreciated!

Doreen - posted on 12/15/2010

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Sherri she visits me just about every holiday and I have left it because I thought she'd grow out of it. I also spoke to her mom and dad (who is divorced). I didn't make a fuss I just mentioned when she was smaller that she might be an emotional eater they should try and get her to concentrate feeling better in more productive ways. Start a hobby or something - I just never really fussed and tried to keep everyone really busy with activities & happy. But you know kids tease her and she looks so shy when she eats. I just asked you guys for a bit of "wise words" or to understand it better so I can mean sometime positive in her life. Her parents life is rocky and they are so re-occupied in their own lives. The thing is her favourite place in the world is my house. I would just like to mean something positive to her on that issue as a loving aunt.

Sherri - posted on 12/15/2010

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I didn't say she shouldn't care about her niece. I said her weight problem should be her parents concern and it sounds like she is under a doctors care for it already. So right now the best thing she can do is stay out of it.

Sherri - posted on 12/15/2010

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Key word she is VISITING!! It is not your business it sounds like she is under medical care for it and it is not your place to make this your business.

JuLeah - posted on 12/15/2010

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Ohh poor kid. The relationship she already has with food is clearly unhealthy for her both physically and emotionally.

She needs help or she will be 400 pounds as an adult. No one at that weight is healthy, and in this society, it is very hard to be big.
Were I her parent, I being in the professionals (not her doctor) as they know very little about a healthy diet.
I'd rule out medical conditions, but seek out a more knowing group to help with meal planning and fitness routine.

I'd bring in a counslor too.

No one that is healthy, physically and emotionally, will eat like that.

It would help if she only had healthy foods to choose from. I'd perfer a kid to over eat on apples then donuts.

So, if she has nothing processed, but whole orgainc, foods, it will be a good start.

Desiree - posted on 12/15/2010

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Sounds like someone is eating emotionally, really need to be looked into. It also sounds as though she is being constantly reminded of her eating habits and in not very nice ways either, I would try and get her to see a therapist urgently before is become a very serious issue in her young life. and the more you bring attention to it the worse it will become you are going to have find ingenous ways of letting her know that she is over eating without making her aware you are doing it. All I can say is good luck!!

Sharon - posted on 12/15/2010

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I know say this all time, but my kids aren't over weight even though we're a rather food indulgent family.

They are sooo busy. Soccer, track, our own animals. And they want to volunteer to take care of or help the animals at the city shelter.

Um, I'm refusing to do that because EIGHT DOGS IS ENOUGH. get it? LOL. Yeah, 8 dogs, 4 cats, 6 aquariums, 20 rabbits, 20 chickens, 10 geese, a bunch of parrots.....

yeah we're all kinda busy, lol. We actually eat really healthy. We can't have healthy animals if we don't pay attention to their diet so thats something we have to work on all the time. We love veggies. The kids love asparagus, brussel sprouts etc. I try to make sure the veggie portion is bigger than the meat portion. Its harder to do these days since fresh veggies are so friggen expensive. sorry a little vent for me.

Doreen - posted on 12/15/2010

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Thanks Sharon - I think I might just do that! We have an animal rescue place just around the corner - gonna see if we can do some volunteering there.

Doreen - posted on 12/15/2010

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Her parents are having a really hard time and my sister thinks I critize when I suggested last time she go to the doctor. She is really over whelmed with all the stuff in her life. I was just looking for positive ideas on how to help her break that desperate need to eat as my responsibility as her aunt. Shame Christina that was a heavy load on top of your loss - glad you broke throught the ropes.

Bonnie - posted on 12/15/2010

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It could be stress related or something to do with depression. If it is that bad though, why hasn't the doctor done anything about it?

C. - posted on 12/15/2010

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Well.. Maybe try to sit down with her and have a talk. Try to find out why she's eating so much. It could be emotional. I know when I was in middle school and was a little heavy (seriously.. a LITTLE heavy) and this boy I had a huge crush on started singing to the Batman theme song 'Fat Girl!!! Nanananananana FAT GIRL!!!' in front of the WHOLE CLASS. That made me depressed and I was so mortified and I remember when I went home, I ate a LOT! I didn't want to tell anyone in my family that someone had done that, especially b/c we were all having our problems since our dad had passed away. So I kept it all to myself, thinking I'd spare everyone else of the humiliation. But all that did was make me binge. I eventually came to my senses at 16 and lost about 85 pounds total (50 in 3 months and the other 30/35 over the next year and a half or two). But seriously, it very well could be an emotional thing if she's been to the doctor and everything checked out. Or if you don't want to be the one to talk to her, ask her mom if she would do the talking and you just be there for moral support.

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