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My DS #1, age 10, is driving me crazy, which is nothing new.
He's done that his whole life. But I am running out of ideas on handling his super poor eating habits. If we have anything sugary in the house, he will keep sneaking it and eating it, even though he has been specifically and repeated told that other than fresh fruits, he is to ASK permission before eating any other snacks.

I am starting to feel like I either have to 1) have no sugary treats in the house at all, which seems unfair to the other four members of the family to never get a sweet treat, or 2) literally lock them up under lock and key.

If he is hungry, I am always willing for him to eat. But fruit, vegetables, meat, etc. Not candy and cake and ice cream multiple times whenever he feels like it.

I got out of my shower at 10:00 this morning and little brother tattled that DS had eaten a bowl of ice cream while I was in the shower. He had washed the bowl and replaced it in the cabinet hoping I wouldn't find out.

It is every day that he is sneaking sweets. It has become more of a problem as he is older and has more power to obtain sweets on his own (buying candy bars at a neighborhood golf clubhouse, for example).

I have told him that he can always eat fresh fruit (apples, bananas, and grapes are usually on hand) without asking permission.

I am frustrated that I can't buy anything for the family to have for desert without him eating it without permission. The ice cream, for example, I bought thinking we could all enjoy a scoop after dinner one night later this week. The grocery store is not a convenient trip, so I try to shop only once a week. If I want to have a few cookies on hand for lunch boxes once or twice during the week, it seems like I ought to be able to buy a pack and have them in the pantry without DS raiding it at will.

I do not enjoy cooking, so buying only raw ingredients instead of pre-packaged is not a viable solution for me.

My birthday is later this month and I have asked DH to not buy me a cake, because I know DS will keep sneaking pieces of it between meals. I guess I could throw away whatever remains after we each eat a slice that day, but that certainly is a wasteful lesson to impart. DH could, I guess, buy five cupcakes in this particular instance. But this is just one example. There are many times during the year that we have cheesecake leftover from the night I host book club or pie leftover from Thanksgiving. You get the gist. Sugary foods do come into our house and it seems like they should be able to be a part of our overall diet, but not to the degree DS craves it.

I have been trying to put extra protein in his diet to lessen the times he gets hungry. But this problem isn't simply hunger based. If he had done what I expect and asked permission for a snack this morning, I would have suggested some of the leftover chili or peanut butter on whole wheat toast or something else he likes, but certainly not ice cream.

The only other thing I have thought of is dividing up the treats into five labeled portions immediately upon returning from the grocery store and once your portion is gone, it's gone. If he wants to eat it all the first day, so be it.

His grandfathers both had health problems related to diet (diabetes and heart issues) - my FIL has since died, my father has made remarkable changes to his diet and is much healthier now. I don't want to see my own son go down this path of unhealthiness. He has gotten a little overweight already and I want to stop this before he is an obese teen.

Any suggestions or ideas? A fresh approach? Thanks!
 

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Well, as far as Birthday cake goes, have your husband get a frozen Pepperidge farm cake. Those are small, and a family could easily eat that in one evening. So, no waste. Maybe let him have seconds on that night if there is any left over.

I wouldn't stop buying snacks for everybody, but, I wouldn't limit him so much either. You are just making him want it more by saying he can't have it. It's also causing the sneaking. Some kids don't care so much about the treats, and for others it's all they think about. I have food that was like that for me. If I know there are Doritos in the house, I can't think of anything else..... I want them 24/7. But, I am 45, and I do the shopping, so, I know that if I buy them I will eat them all. At 10 I didn't care about how much I ate... but, at 45, I know it will make me gain weight. SO, I can stop myself for that reason alone. A ten year old doesn't think about that stuff, so he just wants to eat it.

Is it possible to make a basket for him, and buy snacks for everybody, but put a week's worth into his basket, and he can use it however he wants. Either eat it all in one day, or make it last a week... but, when it's gone, it's gone... then no sneaking into anybody elses stash.
 

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I think you are making food into too much of a control issue, which is a battle that you will loose. Try to remember that you are trying to teach him good habits to last a lifetime, not trying to keep him from eating ice cream today. You can win the battle about the ice cream today if you have the right strategy, but if you make food a control issue, you loose the war.

Having a 10 year old ask before getting any food is NOT, imho, age appropriate. Stock your pantry and refrig with a wider variety of healthy foods. You really don't need the ice cream and cookies and such, and let it go.

From my own issues with sugar cravings, I would suggest that you make whole grains a bigger part of his diet. Not bread so much, but other whole grains. Include potatoes with dinner. The diet you've described is appropriate for some grown women trying to control their weight, but not a growing boy. (And wouldn't work for me, if I don't eat enough whole grains, I crave sugar.)

What sport does he play?
 

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I am an overweight adult. I am working on it - but it is a work in progress.

There is very little in life I blame my parents for, but I do think they had a hand in my being overweight. When I was young my mother controlled food. She would buy snacks and dole them out as she saw fit. She expected a bag of cookies to last a certain number of days and would actually hide them. I loved to bake, but until I left my childhood home (at 22) I had to ask permission to bake. My weight was a little high - but well within normal guidelines until I left home - and then my weight ballooned. I could eat and bake whenever I wanted as no one was there to stop me! I think the years of being denied food I wanted to eat created a sort of insatiable appetite in me. My sisters also struggle with weight, for what it is worth. We all give junk food too much value in our lives and I do think it stems from "having yummy food but not being allowed to eat it" it as children.

I think it is wrong and a little cruel to bring yummy food in the house and ask children not to eat it. I think it could be setting them up for failure.

Here is what I would do: buy healthy food and let him have at it whenever he wants. I would buy junk food in reasonable proportions and I would not expect it to last. That is unrealistic. I get you want to be a able to buy ice cream and have some there tomorrow - but you don't get to - micromanaging his food is going to have a much higher cost in the long run than all the ice cream being eaten today.

For very rare special occasions I would buy a cake or ice cream and specifically say "this is my birthday cake. You may not have any until I blow out the candles".

It concerns me a little that you are concerned he is obtaining sweets on his own (through neighbourhood stores, etc). Why is that an issue? Discretionary money is just that, discretionary, and he should be able to spend it as he sees fit. It is not unusual at all for a 10 year old to spend all his money on junk. This might change as he ages - as he has more buying power he may want to spend money on other things (like computer games, etc). Even if it doesn't change, though, it is his money and not really your business.

I would also exercise as a family. Every week make it a point to have a fun active outing. Swimming, hiking etc.

I know I sound harsh. Parents controlling food is a bit of a hot button for me - and I have never seen "parents control food" end well. IMHO, most people I know who had parents who controlled food end up overweight, or with other food issues.

Last thought, teenage boys can eat like nobody's business. You might want to mentally prepare yourself.
 

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My preteen dd can eat like a grown man! It's really something actually. And, there is a lot of growing going on. While I would prefer that all her choices were healthy ones, that's not realistic. And, I don't make good choices 100% of the time. It's been extremely challenging to not let this become an issue because I do worry a bit about weight issues, although not for any particular reason. My kid is tall and her weight matches her height, so it's very proportional.

I think that your approach sounds more controlling than I would feel comfortable with for the age child you have. At some point it may become less about the food and more about the control-do you want to set that dynamic up? I know I'm trying hard not to. I would also say that among my child's friends there are huge, huge, sugar cravings. I think part of it is the age. We need to let them make their choices unless they are actually hurting themselves. It's reasonable to expect courtesy within the family setting, ie not eating someones else's portion. But kids this age are not like little kids, or adults.

Is there balance-is your child active? I know that my child is into some good sporting activities where the need for a healthy, strong, body is important. That does more than any lecture I could give!
 

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I'm going to be the unpopular voice of dissent. I know "controlling" access to food is unpopular, but I see nothing wrong whatsoever with limiting access to sugary foods. I firmly believe that for some people (me, for example) that sugar is really and seriously addictive, and that teaching a child that they can give in to that craving at all times is damaging to their health and well being.

I see it as being the same as cigarettes (and probably about as healthy). Some people can have one or two cigarettes a week socially, no problem. Some people don't like nicotine products at all. And some people have the urge to smoke two packs day.

So I am not saying that sugar is a problem for everyone. For instance, there could be ice cream in the house for a month and it wouldn't really occur to my husband to eat it. He really could care less.
But if I know there are cookies, ice cream, pie, cake, chocolate in the house, I am going to eat it, darn it! And if I have to be sneaky in order not to get "caught" by my kiddo (and I don't want her seeing because I don't want her to develop my bad sugar habit): well, sadly sometimes I sneak. It is not about control with me and all about the urge to eat sugar. I know it's not healthy but if it here in the house I will want to eat it. (And I am about as organic, eat-local-natural-foods, physically-fit, healthy-home-cooked-meals as you can get!).

So I choose to not keep treats in the house. I am not saying I deprive myself: far from it! But I limit my access in a big way because I know I lack the will power to stay away from sugary food.

I really believe that some children really need guidance in learning to regulate sugary food. Self regulation does not work for everyone with a potentially addictive, healthy food like sugar.

In your shoes (and what I do at my house) I would stop keeping sugary treats in the house AT ALL. I am not saying to deprive the kids of all treats. On the contrary! Instead of having ice cream in the freezer, go ahead and take everyone out for sundaes sometime. Instead of having a package of cookies to dip in to, stop by the bakery and bring home ONE for each person. And on special occasions like birthdays when there is cake in the house, go ahead and tell the kids they can have an extra piece if they want for snack/after breakfast/after dinner. Sure, your kiddo might get a tummy ache for all that cake, but since it is a special occasion and not an every day occurrence it won't be an ongoing problem.

There is a fine line between "controlling" a child's access to food and letting them run wild and eat whatever they want all the time. I think that people are often so leery about guiding a child in food matters because so many of us were subject to strict food rules as children and had damage to us as a result from it. But I really believe there can be overcompensation in the opposite direction. It reminds me of a friend of mine who said "I will never spank my kids because physical abuse it hurt me so much as a child and affects me to this day!" And good for her! But then she doesn't try to enforce ANY discipline, gentle or otherwise, because she doesn't want to "control and intimidate her children." She is afraid that by enforcing any limits and boundaries she is setting up her children for lifelong issues. As a result those kids have no guidance and have serious issues because of it.
I really think it is the same thing happen often with food issues. Sometimes parents are so afraid of "setting up their kids for an eating disorder" that they are afraid to set any limits.

Having emptied your cupboards of all sugary crud foods it will be easier for your child to help himself to the healthier options available. Let him have free reign of those options. Don't control his access to healthy foods and snacks, and direct him toward those better choices by eliminating the foods that you know are bad for him and are causing the problems.

Good luck!
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by tinuviel_k View Post
I'm going to be the unpopular voice of dissent. I know "controlling" access to food is unpopular, but I see nothing wrong whatsoever with limiting access to sugary foods. I firmly believe that for some people (me, for example) that sugar is really and seriously addictive, and that teaching a child that they can give in to that craving at all times is damaging to their health and well being.

In your shoes (and what I do at my house) I would stop keeping sugary treats in the house AT ALL. I am not saying to deprive the kids of all treats. On the contrary! Instead of having ice cream in the freezer, go ahead and take everyone out for sundaes sometime. Instead of having a package of cookies to dip in to, stop by the bakery and bring home ONE for each person.

Good luck!


I have no problem with keeping a fairly healthy-food-only home and eating individual servings of junk food. It is probably the healthiest options.

I have no problem with people buying a normal amount of goodies and letting people free range

I have problems with the setup the OP has - which seems to be there is junk food in the house, but DS is not allowed it (or is allowed it on his mothers rules). It is just too hard (and a setup for failure and control issues) to bring junk food in, but then deny the child it.
 

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I too, do not have a problem with keeping healthy food in the house and limiting the sugary stuff that comes in. We're the parents-we buy the food and control what comes in, up until a certain point. But, we see see these threads here from time to time, about preteens, teens, making choices that we wish they wouldn't, or not exhibiting the self control around "forbidden" items that someone wishes that they would, etc. Sometimes our understanding and expectations of what our kids are doing needs a little re-thinking.

My child is at the age where she is out there making choices about food, and other things, of course, that are completely independent from me. I know that she is sometimes choosing wisely, and sometimes making food choices that would make me cringe. But, she has to learn about choices, self regulation, etc. partially via her own choices, and hopefully also through the modeling and guidance we've provided.

If I were in the OP's shoes, I might have a family sit down and ask for her ds' input into what he is feeling he needs, what might help, and come at it from a perspective of trying to meet his needs, based not only on the parents perception of food needs, but also the child's sense. I just think that the potential for food issues to turn into more than food issues is big, and an area to be treated carefully.
 

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Interesting... my ex grew up in a home where sweets were doled out very carefully (and given their financial situation, I can certainly understand). But it became a huge point of contention between us. He said that as soon as he saw them, he felt like he had to eat them before they were taken away. I could not buy or make sweets at all as they'd be gone in a day or two. No ice cream, no chocolate, no baked goods. I can't tell you what it was like to come upon him eating our daughter's Barbie Valentine candy at 5am one 2/14 (before she got it). At 40?
 

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I do not buy food unless I am okay with the possibility that the food will be eaten by my children. Simple as that. If I don't want them to have sweets or junk food on a regular basis, I don't bring it inot the house. While it's fun to every once in awhile, those are not foods that any of us NEED.
 

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In our house, we have a candy bucket, ice cream, homemade muffins and usually homemade cookies. And right now, a cake. The candy is leftover from Halloween, Christmas and Valentines. I freeze the muffins and only keep 4 out at a time otherwise they go bad. The ice cream has been in there since last summer.

I let my kids eat a piece of candy when they ask, I let them have a cookie or muffin or whatever when they ask. They know the limit is one per day. I've never had them sneaking sweets. I think the more forbidden you make it, the more they want it.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by annethcz View Post
I do not buy food unless I am okay with the possibility that the food will be eaten by my children. Simple as that. If I don't want them to have sweets or junk food on a regular basis, I don't bring it inot the house. While it's fun to every once in awhile, those are not foods that any of us NEED.
I agree with this. I've realized a lot lately that my children have tons of opportunity for sweets outside the home: school, church, etc. So because I am the PIGGY here, I don't buy lots of junk food because I will eat it.

I am not saying that our house is 100% junk-free, but we're not too bad. I also bake from time to time and they can enjoy that for a few days until it's gone. After Halloween, they eat tons of candy for a few days then it's gone.

With our family growing in size, a 1/2 gallon of ice cream doesn't last too long anyway. I actually started buying the "fancy" gelato because it's so good and it's gone in 1 family serving. Then I don't buy it for a few weeks, KWIM?

As a sugar-holic, I am one of those people who just can't say no. It's why I'm 50# overweight. While I try to model good behavior for my kids, I am also careful not to make my problem with food their problem.
 

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another option if you still want things in the house is getting individually packaged single serving things (or repackaging them yourself). Write people's names on them. This is for mom, dad, ds, dd. You can eat your (ice cream, chips, cookies whatever) whenever you want, but the ones with your name on them are YOUR share, the other portions are for the person whose name is on it. As a family we need to make sure everyone gets a fair portion.

That to me would be the issue more than the other things that one family member would eat ALL the cookies or ALL the ice cream and no one else would get a any.

Or let ds learn to bake. There are kid cooking classes and their are kid cookbooks and he could learn to bake things and make then be allowed to have them. There would be less on hand all the time and it would be an activity (which involves math and literacy etc etc). I know I was able to bake by myself (heck I think I was in charge of dinner a few times a week by then!) the time I was 10.
 

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I would just not keep it in the house for the reasons others have written. I think that some people just have a sweet tooth that's very hard to control. I'm one of them--it's just easier for me to keep it out of the house. I don't think it's "punishing" other members of the household--it's junk food, after all.
 

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I also wonder if you are underestimating his caloric/carb needs.

All three or my kids from 9-10 ate me out of house and home! It is the fatting before the sprouting. My 9 year old is doing this now! Two days ago she ate a pizza by herself.
Yes she is getting a slight chunkier but she has out grown shoes and some of her pants are getting shorter. This pre/early puberty time is a normal period for a little extra fat to be develop. It is to grow on!

Also some kids need help understanding you need to balance carbs with protein and good fats. I have told my kids eat a piece of cheese or left over turkey with that. We talk about sugar crashes because my kids are prone to them.
 

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Ditto to the posster who believes her parents' "control" of food has contributed to her weight problem. I feel the same.

My mother controlled access to anything sugary or fatty, and my sister was a more efficient food-sneaker than I was, so I ended up getting very little in the way of sweet treats while growing up. At other kids' houses, I would literally beg for snacks because we barely ever had them.

As an older teen, I spent nearly all of my allowance on my own sweet and salty treats, and before I had kids, I indulged way too much on unhealthy meals because there was nobody around to tell me "no." Now, as an adult, if I bring snacks into the house, I have to have them. I can't control myself. There's still that little girl inside screaming, "You better eat that now, because it's not going to be there later."

If you're comfortable with your kids eating treats occasionally, buy single-servings or small portions and let the kids have them on the day they're bought so everyone gets a fair share and doesn't have to "sneak." I also don't think you should object to your child using his allowance on treats if that's what he wants.

I don't know if more access to foods I wanted to try would have helped me not become an overweight adult, but I'm pretty sure it would have.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post
I am an overweight adult. I am working on it - but it is a work in progress.

There is very little in life I blame my parents for, but I do think they had a hand in my being overweight. When I was young my mother controlled food. She would buy snacks and dole them out as she saw fit. She expected a bag of cookies to last a certain number of days and would actually hide them. I loved to bake, but until I left my childhood home (at 22) I had to ask permission to bake. My weight was a little high - but well within normal guidelines until I left home - and then my weight ballooned. I could eat and bake whenever I wanted as no one was there to stop me! I think the years of being denied food I wanted to eat created a sort of insatiable appetite in me. My sisters also struggle with weight, for what it is worth. We all give junk food too much value in our lives and I do think it stems from "having yummy food but not being allowed to eat it" it as children.
I am also an overweight adult which is probably why what my children eat stresses me out. My parents never controlled what we ate, we always had tons of sugary treats and junky foods in the house. I remember one day coming home from school and eating two microwave cakes--whole ones
My mom was a total sugar addict. . .it got to the point where that's all she ate and had severe nutritional defects (leading to mental problems) because of it. My brother went to visit her a couple months before she died (in a nursing home after breaking her hip) and took her a pack of oreos (her fav). . .she ate the whole large package so quickly it made her gums bleed--she was so addicted to junk. She was diagnosed finally with dementia , weighed 80 lbs when she died.

Quote:

Originally Posted by tinuviel_k View Post
I'm going to be the unpopular voice of dissent. I know "controlling" access to food is unpopular, but I see nothing wrong whatsoever with limiting access to sugary foods.

So I choose to not keep treats in the house. I am not saying I deprive myself: far from it! But I limit my access in a big way because I know I lack the will power to stay away from sugary food.

I really believe that some children really need guidance in learning to regulate sugary food. Self regulation does not work for everyone with a potentially addictive, healthy food like sugar.

Having emptied your cupboards of all sugary crud foods it will be easier for your child to help himself to the healthier options available. Let him have free reign of those options. Don't control his access to healthy foods and snacks, and direct him toward those better choices by eliminating the foods that you know are bad for him and are causing the problems.
I'm trying so hard to get to this point. I've decided that we will have some sweet treats in the house, but will make them better choices: organic dark chocolate, chocolate covered almonds, etc. . .things that are slightly healthy and not quite as bad. We also let our children buy some gift certificates for free donuts from their fav donut store. . .they can get one to eat anytime when we go to that store. Our issue now is that DD is taking money out of pockets, drawers, etc and sneaking to the neighborhood store or to the corner vending machines when she's out playing or walking the dog. So, while I'm doing better in our house. . .she's still getting it outside and resorting to taking our money to do it.

Quote:

Originally Posted by annethcz View Post
I do not buy food unless I am okay with the possibility that the food will be eaten by my children. Simple as that. If I don't want them to have sweets or junk food on a regular basis, I don't bring it inot the house. While it's fun to every once in awhile, those are not foods that any of us NEED.
I totally agree. . .but it's so hard!
 

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Quote:
I'm trying so hard to get to this point. I've decided that we will have some sweet treats in the house, but will make them better choices: organic dark chocolate, chocolate covered almonds, etc. . .things that are slightly healthy and not quite as bad. We also let our children buy some gift certificates for free donuts from their fav donut store. . .they can get one to eat anytime when we go to that store. Our issue now is that DD is taking money out of pockets, drawers, etc and sneaking to the neighborhood store or to the corner vending machines when she's out playing or walking the dog. So, while I'm doing better in our house. . .she's still getting it outside and resorting to taking our money to do it.
*sigh* This is what I did in middle school. All I wanted was to try the things other kids had free access to. I think a bit more access to trying foods other kids are eating can really help when you're trying to build healthy eating habits. When your DD is an adult, those foods will still be there, and she'll have had no chance to learn to control herself without you restricting her. Perhaps instead of the gift certificates, you could allow her some pocket money for a small amount of food of her choice?
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Minky View Post
Perhaps instead of the gift certificates, you could allow her some pocket money for a small amount of food of her choice?
We do give our children an "allowance" every week that we let them spend wherever and on whatever they would like. It isn't very much, 100 yen (a little over a dollar) for each year old they are and part of it goes into their savings. DD usually spends hers after ballet class (there's a minimart two buildings away from her class and we're always "late" picking her up) and DS usually spends his on ballet days as well but with us when we walk around downtown. We hoped this would stop the taking money from us and we wouldn't actually be the ones buying the yucky treats.

One thing I've noticed about both my children is their inability to eat massive sugary treats at parties and at friend's homes. They can't seem to control themselves and eat everything in sight. . .then their behavior is awful. Sometimes I wonder if we let them have all that junk all the time if they would be able to control it better. Then I look at my childhood and how I was with sweets and I cringe. I really think this area is the hardest thing I've had to deal with as a parent so far.
 
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