Hello, Here is a question for all of you. What do you do when your child won’t stop taking food from the pantry and hiding it in their room? Please read and answer the different questions that come up and add questions of your own that you may need help with so we can all get ideas from each other and help each other. My example: My 17 year old hides food and wrappers under his mattress even when he knows we will find it. HELP!!! —-Susan D.


  1. Marsha Britt says:

    I am really struggling with this issue. My daughter has become quite overweight. I have found if we eliminate any “junk food” from the house, she will just buy it at a vending machine and hide it in her room. I am having a lot of trouble just ignoring it, but when I bring it up, she gets defensive and angry. The health implications of obesesity are huge, but I know the eating is emotional. I am looking for any help with this issue as well. I will try some of the tools Regina has posted and post back!

  2. Both our girls as older teens, all grown up now, used to hide food in their rooms. Slightly irritating to me only because I would then have to replace it without prior notice from the pantry. Mostly it was junk food type stuff. No one hides stuff like canned beets or spinach. We would just laugh it off as one of their odd behaviors. I would take them to the store and ask them what they wanted for their own, finally. They got a junk food stash and a trash can.
    As long as they ate properly for dinner and didn’t stay up all night after eating candy bars it was a small price to pay for them feeling in control of something. It also took the burden off of me as I no longer had to “worry” about what they were eating or not eating. They owned their eating. I could simply sneak into their room and have a candy bar or chips with them while the other kids were watching TV!!! I found this very enjoyable actually to become partners in crime. Eating a treat with the child I was formally fussing at.

  3. So does my son who will be 16 next week. Never stops. I’ve m/l given up on this one. The only “consequence” is that I look in his room at night on my way to bed and check for dishes and “science experiments” and I try to remove them before they get hazardous to human health. Someday, maybe, when the internal work is done, he’ll get over that, too.

    I’ve tried giving him a container full of non-perishable and not too unhealthy treats in his room, and a container for trash… he doesn’t use the trash container, and he still brings in other food. He obviously still “needs” this comfort, and until he doesn’t, we’ll just have to work on other things – like relationships, and the issues he’s actually interested in working on.


  4. We had a similar experience, ours would hide food in her pillow case. I would leave it alone until she was home, then calmly ask her if she got hungry in the night. She was embarrassed at first, but after several times of me asking her and us discussing it, she has stopped doing it. I made sure to tell her that I wasn’t angry, just concerned that she was feeling like she wasn’t getting enough food at mealtime, and reassuring her that we want her to be healthy and if she’s still hungry, she is free to get up and eat healthy food, without hiding it. We worked on this when we weren’t stressed about anything else. It was amazing how fast she stopped doing it.

  5. Alyssa DeHart says:

    I’m still not sure what to do…but interested in what others have tried and had sucess or foibles with.

  6. Behaviors are purposeful and are our attempt to meet basic needs. I would start by unlocking the pantry and letting the child know that they have access to any food they want..Consider joining them in the snacking.Once that struggle is neutralized, you can have a conversation about what it is that the child really wants, or in other words, what need is he trying to meet by hoarding the food. These conversations require us to be fearless in acknowledging that our children have their own agency. If we want them to me self directed, we must allow them to exercise their agency. You also need to engage the conversation about your needs; what is it that YOU really want? Perhaps you have concern about food stuffed under mattresses being a health issue. Address that – …How can we create a “win – win” ….perhaps a lock box of snacks that the child has control over would meet the needs on all sides…. This kind of approach will do more than address hoarding, it can also help the child to know that you are willing to “hear” him and respect what is has to say, even when you disagree. In the final analysis, isn’t that the most important objective?

    • Thank you Regina – very nicely said, and have a calm and peaceful day. And remember to breathe, love will enter, peace will follow. Really.
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