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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My son is 6 and the local neuropsychologist calls him a conundrum - he's been dx'd with anxiety, Asperger's syndrome, and adhd (severe even though that's not a diagnostic class). He is a scrawny lil guy and until recently was about 15% underweight. Off an on for the last three years we've had problems with him waking up in the middle of the night and sneaking food. He has sleep issues aside from the food hoarding/sneaking problem.<br><br>
We've tried leaving out snacks for him since I know that sometimes you just wake up hungry in the middle of the night. The thing is he just hoards food. If I lie out a cereal bar for him he'll eat that then climb up into the cabinet and eat the rest of the box. If he decides he wants some yogurt he'll eat 3 or 4 containers instead of just one. He's been known to take a loaf of bread into his room and eat that throughout the night.<br><br>
This week he ate about 1/3 of a 1/2 gallon of frozen yogurt and another night ate 3/4 of a bag of semi-sweet chocolate morsels. I found out about the frozen yogurt because he left it on the counter with a spoon in it and the remainder was melted. I just found out about the chocolate morsels because I went to make chocolate chip cookies.<br><br>
We can't lock up the fridge/cabinets because he can figure out the locks now. I paid $2.50 for the 1/2 gallon of frozen yogurt and 1/2 went to waste so I asked him for $1.25 which he gave me (please don't berate me for this, I'm just thinking logical/natural consequences). He's pretty apathetic to any type of discipline or reward system which proves difficult in combating this.<br><br>
I have no clue how to address this. It's really frustrating for me because overnight I can lose an entire food item from my house which leaves me in a lurch if I needed that for something. Tonight after I found out about the chocolate chips my daughter said "that makes me sad" and started crying because cookies are a rare treat for her (food allergy). So it's affecting her negatively.<br><br>
Any ideas? Am I making too much out of this? I honestly don't mind if he's hungry and gets up and has a cereal bar, a thing of yogurt, and a slice of cheese. It's when he gets up and eats a box of cereal bars, every bit of yogurt, or all of the cheese that really frustrates me to no end.
 

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Oh, wow, I dunno. I just wanted to post because my DS is very similar. He, too, is underweight, and he seems to eat on a feast/famine cycle. It's so frustrating when, for two weeks, every single yogurt I give him ends up in the trash after he eats 3 bites, and then one day, I come to the kitchen and fine 5 empty yogurt containers on the table! He hoards food, too, though he doesn't eat what he hoards. If there's a weird smell in the house, everyone knows to look under DS's bed first; there might be a rotting plate of leftover food down there.
 

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I have no ideas for help but didn't want to read and not reply. I hope you can get some help for this behaviour, it must be very worrisome. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/hug2.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Hug2">
 

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I think you are right that negative/positive consequences aren't going to touch this behavior.<br><br>
It could be a need for control (you mentioned hoarding but in your examples it looks like he is actually eating the food, not storing it under his bed to get moldy, is that right?), it could be he is really hungry, or it could be something else... is it mainly carbohydrates he craves? (You mentioned cheese so maybe not). If so, extreme carbohydrate craving is linked to bipolar disorder in children. Does he have more active periods of time where he sleeps less and is it during these periods that he is likely to binge eat in the middle of the night?<br><br>
I think your only option is to try to channel the binge eating, since it is apparently not hurting him and he is underweight, rather than try to stop it.<br><br>
You CAN put locks on the cabinets. We used them with adults with Prader-Willi, who can also defeat most locks. Its actually cheaper to put on metal clasps and tiny keyed padlocks from the hardware store (all keyed alike so you only need one key) than to purchase good baby locks. Its not an easy way to live but its not nearly as bad as it sounds. You and your family would get used to it pretty quickly. Plus it sounds like they only need to be locked during the night. With one cabinet stocked full of healthy carbs/whatever he likes that is unlocked and he has unlimited access to.<br><br>
The refrigerator is harder. You can lock the frig but it damages the frig so if you have a nice one you might not want to. The best solution (and its time-consuming) is to take everything that is in large containers (such as ice cream) and spoon it into smaller containers when you come home from the grocery store. He might still eat a ton at a time but it might cut down on some of the waste.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>BellinghamCrunchie</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/9826827"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I think you are right that negative/positive consequences aren't going to touch this behavior.<br><br>
It could be a need for control (you mentioned hoarding but in your examples it looks like he is actually eating the food, not storing it under his bed to get moldy, is that right?), it could be he is really hungry, or it could be something else... is it mainly carbohydrates he craves? (You mentioned cheese so maybe not). If so, extreme carbohydrate craving is linked to bipolar disorder in children. Does he have more active periods of time where he sleeps less and is it during these periods that he is likely to binge eat in the middle of the night?<br><br>
I think your only option is to try to channel the binge eating, since it is apparently not hurting him and he is underweight, rather than try to stop it.<br><br>
You CAN put locks on the cabinets. We used them with adults with Prader-Willi, who can also defeat most locks. Its actually cheaper to put on metal clasps and tiny keyed padlocks from the hardware store (all keyed alike so you only need one key) than to purchase good baby locks. Its not an easy way to live but its not nearly as bad as it sounds. You and your family would get used to it pretty quickly. Plus it sounds like they only need to be locked during the night. With one cabinet stocked full of healthy carbs/whatever he likes that is unlocked and he has unlimited access to.<br><br>
The refrigerator is harder. You can lock the frig but it damages the frig so if you have a nice one you might not want to. The best solution (and its time-consuming) is to take everything that is in large containers (such as ice cream) and spoon it into smaller containers when you come home from the grocery store. He might still eat a ton at a time but it might cut down on some of the waste.</div>
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He does both - hoards and eats. I guess it depends on his mood hehe.<br><br>
The bipolar comment made my heart sink as that is my fear with him. I am bipolar (bipolar II) and we have a strong family history of it. In my 20s I vowed to never have children because I'd hate for them to have to go through all of the pain I did dealing with bipolar. He has chronic nightmares and his psych. has mentioned that she usually only sees that in children with bipolar. He also has rage/aggression issues and is on Risperdal for that. The only thing that gives me hope is that his ADHD medication did not make him manic or more rage-y and instead worked as it was intended to. I'd say about 75% of his binge eating is carbohydrate-based - this week he branched out into frozen yogurt and chocolate chips though hehe. If I look at him though I don't see bipolar as he doesn't have any depressed or low states at all, I know depression in children appears differently but he's pretty consistent mood-wise with an ocassional rage due to rigidity issues. However given our family history I wouldn't be surprised if, at one point, bipolar was diagnosed.<br><br>
I think I need to put handles on the cupboards then I could do a more traditional lock. When he was 3 someone mentioned PWS to me but he didn't meet any of the other criteria so we've moved on.<br><br>
My fridge is newer, we purchased it when we purchased our house 5 years ago - I'd hate to mess it up so I will work on transferring things to smaller containers - great idea, thanks!<br><br>
Thanks to all for your responses as well. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 

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Well I was going to post, but then i read and see that you already got some good answers. I agree, the smaller container thing really sounds good. Maybe let him get some foods for him only, and let him keep them in his room so he isnt going into the kitchen and eating other foods?
 

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This is probably not the situation with your DS, but hoarding is a really common symptom of trauma. Thought I'd mention it just in case.
 

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Could you empower him to seek your assistance? I believe that people hide/take things when there is a negative consequence which asking for what they want doesn't provide.<br><br>
If he perceives that you are upset that he is <i>taking</i> food, I imagine he is afraid to *ask* for the food instead. Could you commit that he *can* eat what he wants in the middle of the night, just to ask for your assistance so that you could put the left overs away for safe storage? (You don't mention his age, or I missed it, but even teenagers wake their parents in the middle of the night when they need something.) <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"><br><br>
It sounds like the surprise and loss of the food which you were intending to use is the issue for you? Perhaps, changing up the situation so that you/he together 'add the food to the grocery list' when it is getting low, could help.<br><br>
If the issue is the cost or the type of food chosen, that is a different issue. I'm not clear. Since he is underweight, I imagine the concern is the running out of what you need unexpectedly. If he has favorite foods, such as the carbohydrate foods, could you add those to the grocery list to have extra on hand?<br><br>
Another issue is the carbohydrate binging could be associated with a gluten intolerance, especially associated with being underweight. And yet, "underweight" is an arbitrary generalized measure when applied to an individual person. Not all people are "average" (whatever that means <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol">).<br><br><br>
HTH,<br>
Pat
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Pat, you always have such thoughtful advice, thank you. He is six and started this at three. A part of my frustration definitely stems from not having something available when I expect it to be. I know that is something I have to work on from my end. He knows he can eat if he is hungry in the middle of the night and can wake us but for whatever reason he seems to prefer being sneaky about it. I will enlist his help on the shopping list. He loves lists; my mom suggested having him write what he eats at night to show me the next day so I'm not caught offguard when I go to use something. Again, thank you for your sage advice.
 

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<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"> I just saw that you DID mention his age. In the first sentence. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/Sheepish.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Sheepish">:<br><br>
Around age 6, there is something "big kid/autonomous" about "doing it yourself". Perhaps, have him help you to create a nighttime snack shelf or snack box to keep in his room? Or have a "secret code" such as putting a stuffed animal in a mixing bowl, or some other silly, easy to remember cue that means he ate something. Then you could do a "detective game" and mystery hunt together to identify the item, if he remembers to do the "secret code". Perhaps, make it a 'you're getting hot/cold' guessing game to locate the item...<br><br>
I find that engaging ds in the solution helps me more than me trying to figure out what will meet my need and how to get him to agree. Silly and fun usually help!<br><br><br>
Pat
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Oh I used to do snack trays when he was younger, I think we'll start that again. I just went to Trader Joe's and bought cereal bars again - 6 boxes, 6 bars per box (TJs is about 30 miles from me so I stock up). Let's see how long those 36 bars last hehe.<br><br>
I also like the secret code to let me know he ate something. Last night he only ate one cereal bar (an Odwalla one) and we talked about his making a good choice this morning. The wrapper was in the middle of the living room floor so it was a quick find. hehe
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>MyTwoAs</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/9825711"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I paid $2.50 for the 1/2 gallon of frozen yogurt and 1/2 went to waste so I asked him for $1.25 which he gave me (please don't berate me for this, I'm just thinking logical/natural consequences).</div>
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I would have thought of this too! LOL! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/hug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="hug"> Like your son mine is apathetic too. I don't have any advice but I wnated to let you know many have probably had thoughts like that! it's worth a try eh?<br><br>
Sincerely,<br>
Debra, homeschooling mom of 4 ages 11(AS), 10, 8, and 4 1/2 (Apraxia, Dysarthria, HFA, OCD)
 

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I also thought of gluten intolerance, or perhaps another allergy, if he is eating so much and still underweight? Is he also short for his age? Has he been tested?<br><br>
Anxiety and trauma can also cause binge eating. He may be "comfort" eating. I don't have any advice, unfortunately.<br><br>
(p.s., Heavenly just posted that her ds, also 6 I think, has been prescribed risperdal and has asked if anyone knows anything about it).
 
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