Sneaking snacks

Hello~ I am new here, and relatively new to diabetes. My daughter was diagnosed right after her 10th birthday in October of 2010. She has been really great about taking the shots and counting her carbs, etc., but we have been finding small candy wrappers and snacks in her pockets and hidden in her bedroom. She has admitted to sneaking food, and we have explained why this is dangerous, but nothing seems to make her stop. It is really frustrating!

Anyone have experience with this?

Hi Jen

our son is 8 and was diagnosed about a year and a half ago. He has been good about not sneaking, but our general policy is that if it is ever too much for him to bear that he's not supposed to have something, that we give it to him and deal with the highs. Of course, this is much easier now that he is on the pump. Our fear is that if we deny him too much now, when he has the freedom to choose himself he'll make up for lost time, so we are willing to put up with more difficulties now (ice cream at night!) with the hope that it will make the teen years easier. We also have an agreement that there will never be a penalty for sneaking food as long as he tells us about it not too long after he does. It's worked well so far, but check back in 5 or 6 years :)


Why not let her have sweets? They are usually pretty easy to deal with. Count the carbs and give insulin. Denying her a normal part of childhood is probably of no benefit to her. When our daughter was still on shots we gave her candy along with her meals so we could cover all the carbs at once. Now that she's on a pump it's even easier. I think diabetes actually made her craving for sweets even worse than ever. Either that or it's a major coincidence. There might be some sweets that are hard for you daughter to handle but you will learn. A pump makes even difficult foods easier to deal with buy allowing one to spread the bolus out over a few hours. We use 4 hours for ice cream.

We let her have sweets whenever she wants, as long as it is around the same time as a meal and we give her insulin for it. The problem is that she is sneaking extra sweets/snacks without insulin when we aren't looking. She then has a higher blood sugar than normal when she tests, which makes us think we need to increase her insulin dose. We do that, and then all of a sudden she's going low. We've gotten her to admit that she's sneaking food, but we can't get her to stop.

I just wanted to share my experience with my 10 year old son.  I understand that part of being a kid is sneaking food and if they tell then they get in trouble.  So, what has worked for us is that I pull up syringes and label snack bags with the carbs and amount of insulin in the syringe.  Then the snack bags are put in a little case.  Example the 1/2 unit bag says "half unit/ 15 carbs" etc.  I label all amounts in different bags.  I have encouraged my son to figure out the amount that he has snuck and ate and take insulin for it.  I tell him I used to do the same thing when I was young, sneaking food, but he has to go and extra step to cover his tracks.  This has worked for us. Perhaps this will work for others too.

We have similar problems. I think one solution would be to test more and if you catch her glucose going higher then make a correction. More frequent testing can  bring about other conflicts but it can remove lying about snacks as an issue.

Wow the snack issue.  In our family we allow snacks this is because we have wonderful people in our lives. Some have had type 1 diabetes for over 50 years and some who are recently diag. with type 1.  For us this is what works best we had a long conversation about it.  Even  though they are young it is important that they know how to eat which includes snacks sometimes.  My best advice is to do the same talk to your child about snacks and let her know she really needs to dose everytime she eats.  (If on a pump if not our Dr. said over a 15 carb snack)  I will tell you a couple of stories so you can understand why we allow snacks.  Again this our personal preferance not everyone allows snacks.

The first one is a little boy knew the only time he would get snack is if he was low.  So being an 8 year old smart as whip child he gave himself some insulin through the pump and a little bit later said he felt low.  Sure enough he was so he was given a snack.  Well it worked so good he did it again but this time gave himself 10 units.  The ambulance was called he was rushed to the hospital.  After he was released he did the same thing at school another ride to the hospital.  The pump was taken away until he can understand how serious this could be.  

The second story a teenage boy recently diag. with type 1 his parents keep all the snacks in their bedroom.  He is only allowed a snack once in awhile or if he is low.  He is in junior high one teacher lets him know he has snacks if he needs them and shows him where they are. Since he is not allowed snacks just because he might want one it made it so tempting just to have a snack.  So he didn't resist temptation and stole a whole drawer full of food from the nice teacher.  He was suspended and almost expelled for stealing and getting into the teachers property without letting him know.  

The third is what happened to us and our son.  It was just a few months after he was diag. we already decided we would allow snacks.  It was his sisters birthday we had the usual cake and ice cream. He wanted a second piece of cake.  I advised him not to have a second piece because his body couldn't handle that much sugar even if dosed for it.  Well he still really wanted that second piece. So I said okay but remember how you feel after.  Sure enough he ate the second piece and 30 minutes later had such a tummy ache. It has been a little over five years and he will still only have one piece of cake at a time.

I only am letting you know of these stories so you and your child can have a real conversation and come up with a solution together.  I know it is hard but really she will have this for the rest of her life.  She needs to find our what will work for her.  Let her know there is no right or wrong answer you are there to support her and you do not want to be the food police.  

Sorry for such a long post good luck

I'm not clear on why snacks are such a no-no.  From my experience with my eight year old son, if we bolus appropropriately, he can eat almost anything.  Are there any studies showing the long term effects of more insulin vs. less over a long period of time?  Is there any evidence to suggest that our T1 kids need to avoid snacks for extended health and lifespan?

She is not talking about not ALLOWING snacks, just getting her child to ask for them first, rather than taking them without her knowledge and no insullin on board. Also, its not so easy with MDI as with a pump. You don't have the flexability to eat whatever, whenever, as you can't give small enough doses of insulin to cover the carbs or you already have mealtime insulin on board and can't give another dose. If its not a "scheduled" snack time and the child wants something to eat, it has to be a "free" food item. Sweets or anything with a significant amout of carbs are better left to close to meal times, as mentioned, so you can cover the carbs with the mealtime insulin as well as having other foods to help slow down the release.  i am lucky that my daughter has yet to sneak snacks, but she does often ask when the timing is not ideal for carbs (we MDI as well). Maybe try to find things that would satisfy her sweet tooth but are still considered "free".  I have a recipe for peanut butter cookies that are about 2 carbs each. I will share if you are interested. Also look into Walden Farms products. (you can order online if you can't find them n stores) They are all carb free items. The have some great tasting chocolate and caramel syrup and chocolate fruit dip.  A couple strawberries and she can put as much chocolate on there as she wants and its still basically carb free! (They also have great tasting carb free pancake syrup) Maybe if she is aware that there are sweet treats that she can have whenever she likes, she won't feel the need to sneak snacks. I think the pre teen and teen years are rough on everyone.  Hang in there and keep the conversation with her flowing, thats always the best option!

Yes!! Carb-free snacks would be an amazing help. I would love the recipe for PB cookies, if you don't mind sharing. We're trying to be more relaxed about we deal with the snack issue, and it helps to have people to talk to about. it. Thanks everyone!

1 cup peanut butter

1 cup splenda (or sugar sub of your choice)

1 egg

1 tbs vanilla extract

Mix all 4 together until blended and batter is a bit firm.  Roll into walnut size balls.  Use the tines of a fork to compress down. Bake at 350 for about 12-15mins.  Makes about 20 cookies.  Keep in air tight container.

The original recipe says to dust them afterwards with splenda, but I find it gives it too much of that bitter aftertaste and like it just fine without.  I have also at times added one chocolate chip in the center of each cookie for a little extra "treat" and esp if you use dark chocolate, it doesn't raise up carb count significantly.

We also eat a lot of sugar free jello in our house too for a carb free snack.

Oh and kinder surprise eggs only have 10g carbs, so if its gonna end in a battle, then at least thats only 10 as opposed to something that has 50!

Other ideas are crystal lite popsicles, I make frozen yogurt drops by using the lowest carb yogurt (usually 100g=6g CHO) and piping quarter sized drops onto a cookie sheet, freezing them, then popping them off and store in a container in the freezer.  As long as she doesn't eat a pile of them, they are carb free as well and satisfy a sweet craving.  After Christmas I stocked up on all those cheap chocolate advent calanders too. Each of those chocolate squares are only 1 carb each. (My daughter is only three so we used these as rewards for doing her insulin without fighting, running, or hiding).  There are some things out there, these are a few I have come across that help in our house!

We allow our son to have snacks whenever he wants but he has to tell us before eating anything.  He knows that if we find out that he ate something without telling us that privilege will be revoked.  

With that said, he can have more carb loaded snacks around 10am or two hours before his insulin at dinner.  Never after dinner.  Also, he has to be active by going for a walk or play some soccer after that snack.  

We have lunch meat, cucumbers and other "zero value" foods in the fridge at all times.  Which allows him to believe he is satisfying his "hunger".  Luckily he is not a fan of too many sweets.

Wonderful ideas!! Thank you so much! I'm going to make the cookies today for her after school snack, and the yogurt drops for tomorrow. Thank you thank you.


You need to mention this to your daughter's endo.  It can be a symptom of a bigger issue.   Diabetics are much more likely to develop eating disorders because of the weird relationship we have with food.  Diabetes also wrecks a person's hunger signals.  I remember having to eat when I wasn't hungry  because I was low.  Or being so hungy, but not allowed to eat because it wasn't time.  

I was diagnosed at age 4 and by age 6 would walk to the corner drug store  to buy candy (which I'd eat on the way home so my mom wouldn't find out).  I started sneaking snacks when I was about 10.  It gave me a rush to "get away with something."  Later I started binging and skipping insulin so that  I wouldn't gain weight.  When I started taking more normal amounts of insulin I gained weight so I would severely limit my calories and exercise like crazy (I'd run the stairs in my apartment building for hours every day).   In the last decade I've done okay with my weight and diabetes, but have continued to struggle with weird eating.  While some diabetics are natually disciplined and do well on sugar-free snacks, for me it was the opposite.  I wanted what I wasn't supposed to have and have spent way too much of my adult life binging on "forbidden" fruit like cookies, candy, and ice cream.  

We all deal with the stress and expectations of diabetes differently.  Your daughter may not be struggling with the beginning of an eating disorder, but it's important to consider.  

This article isn't about eating disorders, but is about diabetic teens and may help you.

When you talk to your daughter about this, don't be judgemental or overreact.  Try to figure out what will help her.  


Jen- I think you are right to let your daughter to have any snack as long as she gives insulin for it. Making low carb options available helps too (we eat a lot of jello - 0 carbs!).

That said, even if you do everything right, she may still sneak a goody without insulin every now and again.

It's not uncommon. Even people without diabetes sneak snacks, so it's a hard behavior to resist when you DO have this disease. As long as you continually reassure her that it's ok to snack as long as she gives insulin for it, you're on the right track. She may not stop right away, but testing often (as Terry suggested above) is a good way to treat these lapses.

By being continually reassuring, by gently reinforcing the message that any food requires insulin, and by working together, you'll be the parental rock that your daughter needs you to be. Seems to me that you're already well on your way to being that pillar of support for her.

Couldn't have said it better than Red!  As parents, I think we see all food as a least I do.  I try to follow the same "plan" as my 13 year old daughter .....and guess how many times I have found myself in front of the fridge or pantry just wanting to have something!  Then I find myself trying to think about the last time I ate, what I had, etc.  I try to think of a low or no carb option, but sometimes I just want that carb!  I have walked away from the snack still really wanting it!  Have I caught myself "sneaking" a snack after she goes to bed??  Yep.....and I'm an adult.  I think my point is that denying anything has a cost.  Kids may think that they are bad or doing something wrong if they want that extra treat.  Like anything else, moderation is always key......whether we are T1 or not.  We are trying to grow them into healthy, confident, smart, independent people with the added responsibility of T1.

Reassurance, teamwork, patience, flexibility, communication and support are huge.  It's not an easy road.  I really appreciated reading everyone's posts.

While its a great idea for a low-carb snack, it uses a LOT of sugar substitute!  Something with that much sweetness will have your body craving more.  I'd be afraid that it would lead to more snack stealing.  Just my opinion.

Thanks for the reassurance, everyone. We're feeling a lot better this week. As for the sugar substitute leading to more snacking: I'm not too concerned with this. It seems like my daughter isn't really craving the food, but the freedom. Knowing that there is a container of frozen yogurt drops in the freezer for her to nibble on at any time is really helping. She was getting really sick of jello. Thank you!!

Yay! Glad you found something that worked! It makes my heart happy to hear that :)