How to sneak junk food without getting caught by your child

Posted on June 20, 2012


Ice cream after midnight

Welcome to this week’s instalment of WTF Wednesday, where our sense is about as common as it gets.

This week’s question was a bit of a team project. It flowed from a conversation in the comments section of a recent post on what families can learn from the 2012 Summer Olympics.  Gina Valley asked if sneaky speed eating is an Olympic sport yet. This led to some discussion with Melissa and Stephanie and ultimately this request from Christopher:

I need some pointers. I ALWAYS get busted when I try to sneak something.

You bought the Lucky Charms in an act of desperation to defuse a grocery store meltdown. You are philosophically opposed to the idea of feeding your child whatever the heck that stuff is but now it’s in your house. You hide it behind all the other cereal in case your mother stops by unexpectedly, sees it and thinks you’re trying to poison your child. And even though you’ve only allowed your child to have a handful of them as a special treat, the box is nearly empty. You couldn’t resist, could you?

Did you think about what you’d tell your child when he finally asks for a bowl and all the marshmallows are mysteriously missing from the paltry portion that remains? I didn’t think so.

There are a number of legitimate reasons that sneaking is a necessary part of parenting. Chief among these, of course, is selfishness. But before you get all hard on yourself for wanting a third bowl of ice cream, remember the sacrifices you’ve made so your child can have dessert in the first place. You deserve it, my friend.

Let’s review some of the common parental sneaking scenarios and their associated strategies.

Portion Control

Portion control is not about controlling the size of the portion; it’s about controlling who sees you with the massive portion that you took. Like a good conciencious parent, you dish your child a nice small portion of ice cream. While he’s sucking the remaining picoliter from the pores of the bowl, you reinforce that your family takes healthy eating seriously. The message, however, is a bit muddied when you walk back to the table with a 2-gallon bucket of Triple Chocolate Arterial Death Bomb ice cream for yourself.

The solution to this conundrum: speed eating. The trick is to reduce your portion from 2 gallons to 2 ounces in the time it takes to get from the refridgerater to the table. This takes some practice and it’s best to find a reason to hover in the kitchen to give yourself more time. I’d venture a guess that your spouse has already been working on it. Have they spontaneously done the dishes every night since you bought that new ice cream, then returned to the table with a nice, small portion of the dessert? That’s known as cleaning up while cleaning up.

The downside to this strategy is that you don’t have time to actually enjoy your dessert. But you’ve got kids; when was the last time enjoyment was one of your criteria for a successful meal?

Absence makes the heart grow…congested

A very common strategy for sneaking food is the simple, yet risky technique whereby you wait until your child isn’t around, then gorge on junk food. Yes, it’s simple, but the danger is real and comes in two forms: getting caught in the act and leaving evidence behind.

Here’s the first scenario: You rushed your child off to bed and read the shortest story you could find. A quick kiss goodnight, shut the door and head for the kitchen. You plop onto the couch with a huge piece of chocolate cake and dive in. The Rootstock Book of Parenting Laws clearly states that the night you rush your child off to bed so you can dive into the chocolate cake is the night your child can’t sleep and walks in on you, the couch and the cake. Now your child is suddenly too hungry to sleep and is screaming something about things being unfair and he’s running away.

The other danger is associated with sloppy work on your part. Maybe you left the frosting-smeared plate on the coffee table for your son to find in the morning. It may be as subtle as chocolate lip prints on a milk glass on the counter.

It’s also important to realize that even though your child still requires all his fingers and toes to do basic addition, he has an uncanny ability to detect the slightest deviations in size and volume of dessert items. This is why learning to dig horizontal ice cream caves in the container is well worth your time. In this way, the surface remains intact as you gradually hollow out the middle.

In the event of an emergency

All of us make mistakes once in a while. So what do you do when you get caught? You tell the truth, of course: you want to make sure that these evil foods are not around the house tempting your precious child. With the rates of diabetes and heart disease on the rise, it’s your responsibility as a caring parent to eliminate these dangerous substances from your home. And it would be equally sinful to waste the food when so many are going without. Wow, not only are you a stellar parent but you’re a true world citizen.

Problem solved. You’re welcome!



I’m guessing our readers have some suggestions of their own. What’s your trick? Do these techniques work equally well on spouses? Please enlighten us below…

Posted in: Advice (bad)