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A Parent's Guide to Snacking on the Sly

02/03/2015 01:42 pm ET | Updated Apr 05, 2015
Todd Keith via Getty Images

A life-altering change occurs as your young child embarks on the fast-moving journey from toddler to preschooler. I'm not talking about potty-training or night terrors here, though both of those things are equally frightening. I'm talking about full-blown snack treat recognition.

During your precious baby's earliest years, you can crack open a fresh bag of Doritos, a Kit-Kat or that giant package of mini marshmallows you purchased to add to the hot chocolate you don't even drink, and your kid doesn't bat an eye. But then something happens. Maybe the toddler group teacher passed out snack-sized bags of Skittles on Halloween, or perhaps Grandma gave in and shared some Hershey's Kisses... Or the entire bag, because let's face it: Grandparents. Regardless of how or when your young child is exposed to delicious, processed snacks, the moment is pivotal and your life as a parent is forever changed.

Afterwards, their curiosity about what you're eating increases exponentially. If they hear the telltale sound of a bag crinkling in the kitchen from four rooms away, you'd better believe they'll come running. If they suspect you're secretly snacking on a chocolate bar from Trader Joe's, they'll ask to see what's in your mouth. And if yours is a particularly precocious child, they might even demand to smell your breath just to make sure you're not lying about eating leftover vegetables. Nothing like having a 2-year-old call your bluff. So what do you do when a craving for treats strikes and you don't want to share? Here are some covert eating tips that can help you keep your snacking under wraps.

1. Distract them with something irresistible.
Does your kid always want to play with your smartphone or iPod? If your snack craving is so intense that it simply cannot wait, hand over your electronic devices. They might call 911, the United Kingdom or that ex-boyfriend you should have deleted from your phone back in 2002, but at least your sweet tooth will be satisfied. Just make sure you have a good explanation prepared for the emergency response team that may show up at your door. "I needed some chocolate" probably isn't going to cut it.

2. Hide snacks in your undergarments.
Most 3-year-old kids understand the concept of pockets. They probably use them to hang on your pants or their coats may be filled with those round orange "paid" stickers from the grocery store. This new-found understanding means that storing treats in obvious places like your pockets is no longer an option. Your kid will find them. To avoid any tantrums over snacks, hide that candy bar in your bra or tuck it into your waistband. Just make sure you don't leave it there too long, or your body heat will cause it to melt into a gooey, disgusting mess all over your clothing. The last thing you want is random strangers wondering whether that's poop or chocolate on your pants.

3. Eat in the bathroom.
There's nothing quite as glamorous as eating gourmet sweets while you're on the can. Is it the most sanitary way to satisfy your cravings? Definitely not, but desperate times call for desperate measures. If you aren't afraid of a few germs, this tried and true sneaky snacking strategy is an excellent approach -- unless, of course, your preschooler enjoys accompanying you to the bathroom while you do your business. Pro tip: Lock the door and try not to get too creeped out when you see tiny fingers reaching underneath. Hope they don't get into anything as you shamelessly shovel sweets into your face.

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4. Wait until bedtime.
Ah, bedtime -- that glorious time of day when you get to cram all of your adult activities into a three-hour block. While you're catching up on DVR, picking up toys for the eighth time, finishing up a chapter of your book, texting your BFF and discussing current events with your significant other, arm yourself with your favorite snacks. Worried about eating crappy foods before bed? Just stop it. Think of this as your opportunity to make up for all the calories you missed out on when you were busy fulfilling your small child's every need during the day. Take an early morning walk around the mall with the elderly people or shovel the driveway tomorrow if you're feeling guilty.

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