So what is a parent to do when they find candy wrappers or junk food hidden under the bed or in the car when you know your daughter says she’s trying to lose weight? Well, besides developing a few more gray hairs or worry lines, I can give you a few suggestions.
The first thing to try is a calm discussion with your daughter to see if the two of you can work out a plan. Let her know you see this stuff and it makes you wonder if she’s having trouble controlling her eating. (And you say, “Yeah, right like it would ever be THAT easy.”) Sometimes kids are relieved to know that a parent has noticed, and offering an appointment with a counselor or therapist who works with teens with weight issues might be welcomed.
If she storms off or tells you to mind your own business, then a less direct approach is needed (and PLEASE don’t get angry with her, it will just impair communication more, I promise you). One thing you can do when you find these stacks of wrappers is put them somewhere in a pile where your daughter (but not the rest of the world) will see them. But say nothing. If she asks where they came from just say, “I found them, and wasn’t sure what you wanted to do with them.” A little provocative but brings her face to face with what she’s been eating without you being caught in the middle.
Buy healthy snacks (fruits, vegetables, portion controlled popcorn or rice cakes or wheat crackers, portion controlled sweet stuff like 100 calorie Twinkies) AND LEAVE THEM OUT in plain sight so your daughter can’t NOT notice them. For the sweet stuff, leave one pack out in plain sight next to low fat yogurt or fruit so she can’t easily over indulge. (If you’re looking for healthy snack ideas try www.hungrygirl.com)
Attempt to engage your daughter in parent-child, or family activities. Physical activity is great (bowling, ice skating, skiing, walking, Wii games, dancing, shopping). But even playing a board game or watching a movie will give you face to face time where conversations may just happen, and where you can model good eating habits or provide a balanced snack. If you do have a snack serve it up, don’t put the whole box or bag out on the table.
Changes are likely to be slow, but binge eating in solitude is often a symptom of loneliness or boredom. Keeping your daughter engaged without lecturing her about what you’re doing, will likely help.
Photo by: Rochelle, et. al.