Kids might hide food they don't like so they don't have to eat it, or they might hide food they really like, such as candy, in other places so they can eat it whenever they want. Food hiding can also develop into a form of hoarding -- a serious mental condition that tends to get worse over time. There are a variety of steps you can take to bring an end to your child's issues with food hiding.
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Watch your kid carefully during meals. If your kid is hiding food they don't want to eat, such as pushing peas under his plate, it's not as difficult to deal with as other food issues. When you see your kid hiding the food, ask him why. The kid might not like that food. Don't force your child to eat foods he doesn't like. Unless your kid refuses to eat all vegetables, it's not a big deal to give your kid broccoli instead of peas.
Teach your kid healthy eating and introduce her to new foods each week that are healthy and tasty, such as a new type of fruit. This helps kids who hide treats in their bedrooms for later. If your kid understands the importance of healthy eating and is offered plenty of variety during regular meals and snack times, food hiding can be reduced or eliminated.
Give your kid somewhere to put his food so he doesn't feel the need to hide it. Hiding food can also be about control for a child. If a kid feels a lack of control in other areas, he may attempt to hide food so he feels like he is in charge of something. Giving your kid a space to put his own food, such as his lunch items or favourite snacks, can help alleviate the food hiding problem.
Work on trust issues your kid may have. Kids who hoard food sometimes don't trust the adults around them. Make an effort to demonstrate to your child that their home is stable, supportive and loving.
Seek help from a professional child psychologist if the food hiding situation becomes a real issue. Food hoarding may need intervention by a specialist. For example, if your child is hoarding foods that become rotten, mouldy and inedible, you might be dealing with a food hoarding issue. Children who overeat also benefit from seeing a child psychologist.
Tips and warnings
- Do not attempt to punish your kid for hiding food or make him feel guilty; this is not the proper way to handle food hoarding, and it often doesn't have any effect on the habit anyway.