Stealing sugar??

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by sanityisoverrated406, Jan 27, 2011.

  1. I am new here, so forgive me if this topic has been covered...I'm just at my wits end.

    I don't even know where to begin. I guess I will stick to the most current issue. My 13-year-old stepdaughter has been stealing and hoarding sugar. Not candy or junk (although she has in the past)...but pure sugar. She puts it in sandwich baggies and hides it under her pillow. We have confronted her....we have made her do a research paper on the affects of sugar on the body, etc., I have tried to have a serious discussion with her to see if there is something wrong...and what her eating habits are like in school. It didn't stop...I finally got rid of all the sugar in the house. :(

    I'm concerned that this is more than just a "sweet tooth." Could this lead to more serious addictions? Is there a better way to handle it?

    A little background: she has been in and out of counseling. We recently moved, and are in the process of finding a new psychiatrist and counselor. She has been on Abilify for mood disorders (she can get really explosive and dangerous around our younger kids...she has extreme jealousy issues with our 4-year-old daughter, and is very rough with our twin 2-year-old boys.) Her older brother and her have not seen their bio-mom in about 5-years...she had custody taken away because she and her boyfriends were abusive. My stepson has ADD issues, but otherwise he is a very respectful, good kid. My stepdaughter...she has been a major challenge. Very disrespectful, mean toward the younger children, and irrational. We are at a loss with heart breaks for her because of what she's been through...but she is driving me to the brink of insanity. :( I feel like I'm walking a horrible line of trying to protect the other children, but not alienate her while doing so. It has been a long, rough road.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
  2. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    Does she just hoard it, or does she hide it and eat it?
  3. She is hiding it and eating it. She did admit to doing it...but would only shrug when asked "why?" I found baggies mostly under her pillow...a couple in her dresser drawer, and one in her nightstand. Most were pretty much empty. My bag of brown sugar in the pantry was almost empty (I had used it once when making cookies.) :(

    The other odd eating habits she has (which concern me:)

    She eats breakfast okay, although I do notice she dumps some cereal into the sink. She doesn't eat lunch...or barely eats any (she brings lunch to school, and usually brings home most if not all of her sandwich and some snacks.) When she gets home from school she eats a TON of food...usually craving carbs and getting very upset if there isn't any crackers or chips in the house. She eats dinner very fast and usually has a couple of helpings unless it's something she doesn't like. She isn't overweight...she is a tiny girl...she is 13 and hovers in the high 80's.

    Her Algebra teacher says that everyday she comes to class and then has a reason to leave for a few get a drink...she forgot something in her locker, etc. Same time, everyday.

    I'm starting to worry if this is the start of an eating disorder??
  4. barneysmom

    barneysmom Member

    sanity, welcome to the forum. It does sound like you have walked a long, rough road. You are in good company here.

    Haozi asked a good question -- hoarding, or hoarding and eating?

    As you probably know, Abilify can cause a raging appetite because of the side effect of metabolic syndrome, which could present as a sugar craving, but usually I think it's overt, uncontrollable overeating. Also, craving sugar could be the result of a dopamine imbalance -- neurotransmitter involved with mood -- in other words carb cravings. I've been known to dip my spoon in a can of frosting a couple times too many (usually in the middle of the night).

    Hoarding -- could be an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) symptom or an anxiety symptom.

    What kind of specific issues did your husband's ex-wife deal with (also anyone in her family), or anyone in your husband's family (or your husband)? You've probably already considered these, so I'm sorry if I'm being presumptuous -- I'm just offering suggestions to think about, not publicly interrogating you about personal stuff :~)

    Tell us more about your step daughter. Sorry to hear she is so rough on your little ones.

  5. First of all, thank you for is so nice to find a forum geared for parents who are going through these kinds of issues.

    Yes, definitely hoarding and eating...and she definitely craves carbs!

    I don't know much about my husband's ex-wife, other than what she put the kids through. She was (I think) bipolar...or at least she certainly had a mood disorder of some sort. She was on different drugs from time to time...moved constantly, and changed boyfriends frequently. The kids were very young at that point. She was abusive...mostly emotionally, but sometimes the kids came home with cigarette burns or bruises...which was so rough because I was the one who was with her when she was with us...but the courts wouldn't listen to me (as the stepmom.) It took one of the ex's boyfriend's son sexually abusing her for the courts to give my husband full custody. :(

    She has been with us, full time, since she was about four...only having supervised visitation with her mother. Five years ago her mom moved out of state...and we never heard from her again.

    She is a smart girl...a brilliant writer...but she has these horrible mood swings. They get better when she is on the Abilify. She has openly admitted that she doesn't think it's fair that our younger ones didn't have the same life she did...that they had parents who loved them from the beginning. She takes much of her anger out on me and our 4-year-old daughter. The boys...she isn't mean...she is just a small child is with a pet. She has thrown things at her older brother, though...a picture frame, or whatever else is in her reach.

    She takes things...nothing big, mostly personal items of make-up, razers, etc. Or office supplies. I don't think she has stolen anything outside the home.

    I am just having a hard time dealing with her attitude...her anger...the hiding things. She is very resentful...I don't even know how to go about helping her, because she pushes me (and everyone else) away. I'm so scared that if she's like this now, at 13....what will she be like at 16??
  6. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    Mine is on Abilify and prefers to do most of her eating later in the day, too. She also gears towards carbs and sugars. For that matter, so do I, and I'm not on any medications. *hides the frosting she has in the fridge*
  7. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    Hi and welcome! When was the last time she had a full physical exam, including blood work and urinalysis? Because she eats so much and is craving sugar and carbs, yet is still very petite, I think I would want to make sure that nothing physical is being overlooked, specifically a glucose problem. Another thought would be if she's having a massive growth spurt... I know my son at that age was a human vacuum cleaner, but he literally was growing an inch a month. Girls don't typically grow like that, but if she is growing... well, pretty much, I guess I'd address her eating patterns first with- her regular doctor.

    I think finding a new therapist is very important. My heart just aches that she had to endure the abuse, and I think it's really pretty important that she keep working thru her feelings, especially since she seems to direct her anger at you and her sister as opposed to her younger brothers. I'm actually kind of surprised that she was able to verbalize so well that she thinks it's not fair her younger sibs did not have the same start in life. To me, that seems to be a sign of some pretty impressive insight. I think it also speaks very highly of her relationship with- you that she could share that.

    I think you also need to remember that even typical teen girls can be exceptionally moody (in my experience about a gazillion times worse than teen boy moodiness, LOL). I think sometimes it's hard to sort it all out with kids who have had fairly routine childhoods - with your daughter, I would guess it's compounded by other issues.

    Again, welcome and I'm glad you found us.
  8. barneysmom

    barneysmom Member


    You have lots to sort out. It sounds like you have been a great mom to all five of your kids. How are you doing? You must be exhausted. It's hard to be the full-time recipient of someone else's rage -- having to protect yourself (emotionally) and protect the kids too. Do you get breaks? What do you like to do personally? Like read, etc. Are you finding much left of your personal self or has that been eradicated?

    Just some ideas --

    Some kids steal things to be able to feel something -- a short burst of adrenalin. Or to be able to focus. And, impulsivity as a symptom cannot be underestimated.

    What do you think about some ADD issues for your daughter (step-d, heretofore referred to as daughter), as I see her brother takes Adderall. Not suggesting medications -- just thinking that ADD manifests itself differently in girls, a good source is Sari Solden's book about Women and ADD, also she has a checklist for ADD in girls online.

    I think it would be worth following up on your daughter's trip to out of the classroom during algebra. Sounds like she's got some kind of ritual going on there -- well maybe not ritual, but habit, something she depends on. Have you noticed any self-injury at all?

    Maybe self-medicating with the sugar. medications may not be right.

    You said "irrational" -- could you say a little more about that?

    Also you mentioned she is rough, like a small child with a pet -- do you think she has sensory issues, like not being able to really feel her fingers, and so is rough? Or does she have good fine motor skills? When she throws stuff at her older brother, does she hit or miss?

    Also with the abuse she might well have PTSD and all the residual anger that comes with abuse -- but things like the sensory and attention issues could be fine-tuned a bit.

    Also her age, 13 -- the teen years -- buckle up.


    P.S. I just read Sue's post and I agree it's huge that your daughter is able to talk to you as she does (about things being unfair, etc. -- she is so right!) and I agree that this shows a huge amount of trust. You've done a great job so far!!!!
  9. pepperidge

    pepperidge New Member

    Something else to consider--many fetal alcohol kids have intense sugar and carb cravings. It is almost an addiction. And not much ability to regulate themselves, feelings of hunger or many things. And can have issues with temper etc. Don't know if you step-daughter might possibly be affected but something to consider given what you describe about her bio mother. I have a child also with some out of control eating issues but it is not eating disorder in classic sense.
  10. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    You're describing my Onyxx perfectly here.

    It's other stuff, too, but specifically sugar and salt. Mostly sugar. The brown sugar, powdered sugar, granulated... Are all locked in my bedroom until thay are needed. Same with cocoa/ovaltine. Plastic bags, or whatever she could find. Frosting? Hahahaha - again, there's a reason I have a small fridge in my room.

    I crave carbs when I'm anxious or upset, but since I'm a reasonably "normal" adult, I can deal with them. Onyxx was also abused, physically, emotionally, and sexually when with her biomom. So I can very much see the parallels.

    Please, find her a new counselor/therapist as soon as you can... Preferably one who has experience with sexual abuse, as this can be an animal of a whole different color. In the meantime... I hate to suggest this, but it's the only thing that has worked for us... Anything you do not want her to take... Lock it up in your room. Regular indoor locks aren't good, you'll have to go for a keyed lock (some of us even need deadbolts). And FWIW - I'm sure she doesn't know why. You won't be able to get that out of her - but a counselor might.

    Jett tried this, but he's just not very good at lying/hiding stuff. Someone above mentioned fetal alcohol - Jett's been diagnosis'd with it, would not be surprised if it is part of Onyxx's issues, and with her background... It's a possibility, is all.

    Hugs, and welcome to the family!
  11. Bunny

    Bunny Guest

    I think the fact that she openly admits to you that she is jealous because her younger siblings did not have the life that she did when she was younger is a very important piece. She knows that she is loved now, but that she was not loved when she was younger. I think that finding a good therapist, and like someone already said one that has expertise in physical and sexual abuse would be best, would be a good way to start. If you are new to the community see if the school district can point you in the right direction, or the prediatrician's office. That was how I found the therapist for my son.

  12. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    She is right. It is not fair. Not at all.

    But there is nothing that can be done to redress the imbalance. Certainly it would not be right to take your kids and subject them to the same torture she went through. Would that make her pain go away? No. You say she is a gifted writer - maybe writing about it could help her turn it to a positive - use the past to good effect. Write it all down.

    A friend of mine had a daughter who was molested by a stepfather. Also a very bright kid and talented writer. She got the girl to write down what she wanted to say to her abuser. Write it all down. In graphic, nasty detail. Then they went out to the backyard and the mother said, "Now do to that piece of paper what you want to do to him. Let your anger out on that paper."
    She said she was appalled, horrified and frightened by the change she saw in her daughter - she was about 10 years old, if that. This sweet little girl began spewing forth the most atrocious swearing, words the mother didn't realise she knew and which she realised must have been said to her by the abuser. She attacked the paper, ripped it to shreds, was crying, swearing, cursing and raging. Then they gathered the pieces and set fire to them. Watched them burn.

    That girl was a close friend of easy child's and although she was a handful as a teen, she was in better shape than I think she would have been if they hadn't been able to get on top of the problems when they did. The girl went on to do well academically, she's finished university and is happy in her career.

    It can work out. But I do remember tis girl was a handful for her teachers.

    My girls used to hoard sugar. They would collect the sugar sachets from McDonalds or other places. They did it because they believed sugar made you 'high' and saw it as a safer alternative to drugs. When I found out that was why, I set them straight and explained what sugar does (you've already done that).

    easy child was sexually abused at her school when she was 5 years old. She also craved food, would steal it, would do whatever she could to get her hands on comfort food. THis is still an issue, I believe. The problems began at the same time as the abuse.

    Another direction to look - next time she has blood tests due, as the doctor to measure fasting glucose and fasting insulin. If she has insulin resistance already, it could be a factor. I've also heard (a possible factor for easy child, too) that where the baby was starved prenatally (placental insufficiency, for example) the baby is born with a metabolism out of whack, and with inborn susceptibility to insulin resistance.

    It can be managed, but only by greatly reducing carbs in favour of lean protein. You virtually have to turn the diet pyramid upside down and stick with that for at least six weeks, then slowly return to a more normal diet but still greatly restricting carbohydrates. The main carbs to permit, once the diet can increase the carbs again - high-fibre only, no sugars.

  13. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    You've gotten some great ideas here ... the medications, the glucose issues (hypoglycemia and bipolar?), the abuse ... she's got major issues. Do you think you could have her write down her feelings and do something like Marg suggested?
    Many hugs.