From a very young age, my daughter has had an insatiable appetite. I’m not talking about the ability to eat large meals. All of my children are big eaters.
No, my daughter takes it to the next level.
It started when she was about ten months old. She would crawl up to our pantry, open the door and eat whatever she could reach. At that stage she was only tall enough to grab from the bottom two shelves, which is where all my baking supplies are kept. So she was happy enough to sit and eat fistfuls of flour!
So being the conscientious parents we are, we put a child lock on the door, up the top. One of those little lever-types that you push down once it’s opened a fraction before you can open it fully.
Time went on, more children were born, earth-shattering diagnoses were made (CF and GDD) and the problem went ignored.
When she got to the age of about four years old, my youngest was crawling around, causing havoc with all cupboards he could find. Our house became Fort Knox, locks on absolutely everything (something we never had to do with the other children)
It was during this time that we realised exactly how big of a problem we had on our hands.
Our daughter would eat anything that was edible…even those that weren’t! I have caught her eating rotten food out of the bin. We had a George Foreman Health Grill (which has now been disposed of) and she would eat the grease out of the grease trap, and I’m not talking just a little bit, no…I am talking about three-quarters of a full container gone! Every day we would walk past where it permanently sat on our kitchen bench to find most of the contents of the grease trap missing.
Then there was the shopping trips. I would have to frisk my daughter before we left the store, often finding Chuppa Chups or small lolly bags in her pockets. The cashiers would giggle, not knowing how much of an issue it really was. I wasnt able to go into the fresh food section of grocery stores for a long time because my daughter considered it an open smorgasboard. It was difficult at times to find time to be able to go shopping “kid-free” to buy fruit and vege.
Once we got home with shopping, so many times while putting the groceries away, I would think “I’m sure I bought some biscuits (for example) for the school lunch boxes. Oh well, I obviously didn’t pull them off the shelf!”, only to find a few days later that the product in question was hidden in those little pouch compartments on the back of seats in the car, the biscuits eaten of course! This prompted a change around in our car of where kids sat so that she didn’t have anywhere to hide food wherever she sat. She is not allowed to sit next to shopping bags on the way home now.
Once the temptation to steal was removed from the car rides, she upped her cause at home. We started finding that she was stealing and hoarding food around the house. I would have to check her numerous hiding places several times a day. Under beds, in toy boxes, behind television units, in her wardrobe, even hiding in highly visible places like in amongst my husband’s numerous baseball trophies! The situation was becoming out of control!
Child lock #2
We realised, that although we had that lock on our pantry, her hand was still small enough to fit into the small gap before you push down the lock up top. The time had now come for a second lock on the pantry. This time, one that wraps around the door so she couldn’t get that gap open.
This helped stop the hoarding considerably. It still happens occasionally.
But if anything is left on the kitchen bench, you can guarantee that she will be into it. Nothing gets left on the kitchen benches anymore. I have just discovered in the last couple of days that I am not going to be able to leave my sugar/tea/coffee canisters on the bench anymore, as its beginning to look like she is hooking in to them as well.
If there is a spill on the kitchen bench that I havent wiped up straight away, she will be right there when my back is turned, using her fingers to lick it up. You just hope to God that it is an edible liquid, not chemicals!
My daughter is by no means overweight. She is well in proportion for her age, but if we let her eat the way she wants to eat, she would definitely be.
A lot of people thought we were over-exaggerating the issue, until they experienced it themselves. My mother was one who kinda felt this way, until she found a hoarding hiding spot at her business. Her school didn’t realise it was an issue until I brought it up towards the end of the year. After a couple of incidents there, it made them wonder how many times she may have had an opporunity throughout the year that they missed.
The balanced diet
When we found out that she had tested equivocal on her CF sweat test, there were a few of us who thought that there was a possibility that her eating habits were CF related. However, doctors were relatively confident that it was not CF related, that is was behavioural/psychological (this has recently been confirmed by the CF team, that she definitely does not have cystic fibrosis) About eighteen months ago, we saw a local dietician. We gave her a list of my daughter’s eating habits over a couple of days (well…the food that we knew about) who said she has a very balanced diet. But when she heard that my youngest son has CF and that my daughter was testing as a “maybe” at that stage, she got a bit excited, and told me that we needed to boost her meals with fats like we do with my son who does have the diagnosis. I walked away from the appointment very dubious, so I called our CF team, who were shocked and said under no certain circumstances are we to feed her the CF diet as we will make her sick! This is exactly what we were thinking, so it was a sigh of relief to hear it from the experts. The CF team said that they will deal with her diet until a diagnosis (good or bad) is reached.
We have been stuck in between a rock and hard place with this. Since the equivocal result, the CF team were saying “Not CF related, not to do with us” (even though they are helping us out now) and local psychologists have been saying “Well, it could be CF related, so we can’t deal with her yet.” But since the doctors have said no CF, but still has respiratory issues, they are working out referrals for us to see child psychologists locally. So I will let you know how that goes.
It has been suggested by a few people (non medical) that she may have the eating disorder, Prader-Willi Syndrome. I brought it up to our pediatrician (have I mentioned that I don’t like her??) who said, off-handedly, that she doesn’t show enough criteria for it. I don’t even know what the criteria is, except the overwhelming desire to eat…and eat…and eat.
I’m hoping to get in to see a child psychologist soon and get some answers. I’m worried about when she starts pre-primary in a few weeks. I don’t want her stealing other children’s lunches, nor do I want her to be this notorious child who is rummaging through bins while everyone else is in the playground. Thankfully, she will have the same teacher that my eldest son had when he was in pre-primary. She is a “no-nonsense” teacher, who will take my concerns seriously and will keep an eye out for us.
I will let you know how we go, but I would be interested to hear from anyone out there who is going through a similar situation!