11

votes

Help! My toddler is sneak-eating

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created June 08, 2012 at 12:02 PM

We started eating paleo when my son was about 1 year old. We were very fortunate to be in the position to eat only pastured and local meat, organic vegetables, and home cook all our meals. For about a year and a half this is how we ate. He had a gluten-free birthday cake, but other than that, I don't think he had sugar or processed food at all during that time, just meat and vegetables with fruit as an occasional treat. He was never sick, flourished, and continued to be adorable and chubby. I didn't worry about the chubby since a) he's still a baby and b) he had a healthy appetite, but was only eating real food, so I figured he should eat as much as he wanted.

Recently, we faced a dramatic financial reversal and have moved in with relatives who are definitely not paleo. I still try to cook every meal and we eat mostly meat and vegetables, although they are no longer local or organic. Unfortunately, the family members eat a lot of junk. My son's cousins leave half-eaten Jell-o cups around and my son eats them, and I have caught him on more than one occasion hiding in the pantry eating cookies. I guess it's the hiding and sneaking that worries me the most. I never get angry, I don't accuse him of being bad, I just say "this food hurts your tummy, gluten will hurt your tummy if you eat it." But while it is probably hurting his gut, he suffers no ill effects so he has no motivation not to eat the sugary deliciousness.

Since I have struggled for half my life with eating issues, food addiction and compulsive behavior around food, I am terrified when I see my toddler hiding behind a table devouring a dish of candy. How do I keep from passing my issues on to my child while keeping his diet as healthy as possible?

5ef574d7893bc816ec52e04139e9bc09

(6097)

on June 10, 2012
at 11:56 AM

Don't assume your child is as flawed as you are.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on June 09, 2012
at 06:29 PM

I'd call that SAD debauchery. Paleo debauchery includes things like chocolate covered bacon. drrooolllll

8508fec4bae4a580d1e1b807058fee8e

(6244)

on June 08, 2012
at 05:04 PM

I love that term paleo debauchery - does that include processed foods, alcohol, gluten, vegetable oils - etc. LOL!

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7 Answers

6
34b560c8b9ce660d7839fb7e29d7be89

on June 08, 2012
at 12:15 PM

My initial thought is that as long as you don't have issues like celiac disease in your family, and since he will likely be exposed to all sorts of paleo debauchery in school and elsewhere, you should focus on providing him with nutrients he will not get in SAD. Broths and other sources of gelatin and perhaps organ meats for example. Try to cultivate an affinity for fresh veggies and an aversion to processed crap. But it seems that in this environment it is inevitable, maybe ensuring he doesn't develop food issues based on your current views of nutrition will be healthiest for him.

8508fec4bae4a580d1e1b807058fee8e

(6244)

on June 08, 2012
at 05:04 PM

I love that term paleo debauchery - does that include processed foods, alcohol, gluten, vegetable oils - etc. LOL!

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on June 09, 2012
at 06:29 PM

I'd call that SAD debauchery. Paleo debauchery includes things like chocolate covered bacon. drrooolllll

5
0a9ad4e577fe24a6b8aafa1dd7a50c79

on June 08, 2012
at 03:58 PM

Try cooking him Paleo-versions of the SAD foods he's sneaking.

Make him some Paleo jell-o at home. You can get a pound bag of unflavored gelatin for extremely cheap and it will last you a while. You can add some fruit or freshly pressed fruit juice to it to flavor it.

2
C8549e3ab0e3d77910e72c87cb5e0918

(435)

on June 09, 2012
at 06:07 PM

I don't know if there is much research out there on optimal ratios for little kids, but looking at the composition of breastmilk they start out with, it is pretty high fat and carb and low protein. It could be that your toddler needs more fat and carbs than he is getting from meat & veg.

Without going to grains and sugar, you could make him some pretty rich treats with nut meals and butters, and other options. why not let him have paleo cookies and other treats available?

1
6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on June 10, 2012
at 05:47 AM

Not everyone reacts negatively to gluten, if your kid doesn't have symptoms they are likely fine. If you start to notice diarrhea or rashes definitely put the kibosh on the cookies, but I wouldn't sweat it. Someone else mentioned homemade jello.
Jello jigglers made with fruit juice are way tastier than jello cups, and the gelatin could mitigate potential gut damage done by the grains if you are worried.

Toddlers developmentally are well within the age range of still getting lots of sweet and fatty breastmilk, so they are going to do whatever they can to get their hands on sweet stuff. If they've noticed your anxiety about the treats, hiding is a perfect response. I wouldn't stress about an eating disorder in a child that young, I think that comes later from weird social pressure, and unrealistic self-expectations.

I'd say make fruit a daily addition, add things like strawberries and whipped cream, homemade vanilla pudding with banana slices (the extra, if there is any, can be frozen into popsicles), cottage cheese with maple syrup was my fave as a kid.

It is also sounds like your current situation is temporary. A few months with access to cookies and jello is NOT going to ruin your child, focus on what you need to focus on to get back on your feet, and then worry about ideal diet once you have your own place.

1
3ab5e1b9eba22a071f653330b7fc9579

on June 08, 2012
at 01:11 PM

Try education as well, there are lots of childrens books out there now that teavh kids about healthy eating. You will never take the lure of cookies away altogether, hell I have been known to cave to the occasional cookie when my co-workers shove them in my face, but you can make healthy eating fun. Make it into a game for him, or find a motivation that makes him want to do it, like a chart with stickers for every day he eats healthy then at the end of the week he can get a prize.

0
Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on June 08, 2012
at 01:27 PM

Agree with Amerindian. EFT aka "tapping" can be very effective in helping with your emotional reaction.

0
Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on June 08, 2012
at 12:34 PM

Sugar is like a drug (very much so, its more addictive than cocaine). As such, youll need to approach it with a neutral, education type of angle to not produce rebellion. Dont react too much, or be emotional, ie....but let him know its health fx and addictiveness. Also try to get your junky relatives to not leave there sugary crap lying around...

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