my employee keeps criticizing my food

Dear AAM,

We had a pandemic baby and we decided for safety reasons it was better to be exposed to one person (a nanny) versus the potentially hundreds in a daycare setting. The expense for even 40 hours of her time is a tight squeeze for us, but we’ve found someone who is overall fantastic. Our baby does amazing with her, she’s knowledgeable, experienced, helpful, and taking the kinds of precautions we need and expect.

I manage people at work but have never had in-home help until now, and I have no role models for this because we are just not of an income bracket where I’ve ever been around nannies. She feels different than someone I would manage at work because the lines blur a lot — she’s in our home, caring for our baby, eating lunch with us, etc. We also can’t afford to lose her — there just aren’t that many folks who fit our needs out there right now.

The issue is this. She’s lost some serious weight. I’m talking 100+ pounds, and she’s still going. I am happy for her because she seems happy about it, and I understand the commitment a change like that takes — it can be all-consuming. That said, she comments on every single food we eat and bring into our house, and not favorably. While we eat reasonably healthfully and are active and healthy weights, we do have junk food in our house and not every meal is perfectly balanced and nutritious. As a working mom, my priority is first ease and second cost. Nutrition matters, too, but it’s definitely not the only consideration. Also, we have a new baby in a pandemic! Every night I cook at all feels heroic and we eat some treats only because they’re tasty.

I’ve tried hinting, “We eat everything in moderation here” or “We want to teach [baby] that foods aren’t good or bad, and all bodies are good bodies” and finally, “I can’t really talk about food and weight this much; it’s not healthy for me.” She doesn’t get it.

I sort of lost it when I saw her snap a photo of our snack drawer presumably to show someone what pigs we are but I didn’t say anything because I needed to work.

How do I address this in a way that puts a stop to it, is blunt enough to be clear, but doesn’t sour our relationship and make things awkward? If I were in an office, I’d know what to do but I’m honestly at a loss here.

She’s being incredibly rude! Maybe she’s finding the topic of food choices all-consuming right now, but you cannot criticize other people’s food choices like that — especially when they have told you pretty damn directly that they don’t want to talk about it.

I know you’re worried about making things awkward, but she has already made things awkward.

And I get that you’re worried about losing her if you do something that sours the relationship, but (a) you can’t be so afraid to lose an employee that you don’t address serious problems and (b) if she decides to leave because you politely requested something very reasonable, that’s a person so volatile that it was all going to blow up at some point anyway. And you can’t have someone volatile taking care of your kid, because at some point you’ll need to ask her to change something else around your kid, even if you try hard to avoid it. (I don’t think she will blow up and leave over this, but it’s useful to think through whether that worry is really one you can cater to.)

I would say this: “Jane, we love having you as a nanny. You’re great with (baby). There is one thing that I need to ask you to change. Please stop criticizing the food we bring into the house. You’re right that it’s not all perfectly nutritious; that’s a compromise we’re willing to make. We will always make sure you have food here that you want to eat — and if we’re ever not doing that, please let me know and we’ll fix it — but I’m asking you to stop criticizing the food we’re eating. For me, it’s unhealthy to talk about food that much.”

She might feel a little awkward after this conversation; it’s awkward to be told you’re doing something that upsets someone. There’s no way around that. But you initiate a warm, normal conversation with her soon afterwards, often that can help reset the vibe.

By the way, I’m hoping she wasn’t really photographing your snack drawer to criticize you to others. That would be a pretty big violation by someone you need to trust in your home! Are there any other feasible interpretations of what you saw — like might she have been photographing it to remember the brand or name of an item in there, or because she likes your snazzy drawer dividers, or anything like that? But if you’re pretty sure you’re right about what she was doing, that’s all the more reason to have this conversation immediately and see how it goes.

Read an update to this letter here

{ 446 comments… read them below }

  1. Boof*

    Yes to all of the above
    If the initial conversation goes ok, maybe op can ask why she is taking photos of their stuff? It might be best to clear the air there as well, especially if the reason was benign.

    1. Anonym*

      Yeah, that’s a very reasonable thing to bring up. “I’m a little concerned. The other day it looked like you were photographing our food drawer. I’m not sure that was the case, but we’d be very uncomfortable if so, so wanted to check in with you on it.”

    2. Campfire Raccoon*

      I’ve had this exact coworker and employee. Losing weight can become all-consuming and lead to some unintentional behaviors – and it can be maddening to be around if the person starts applying their own rules to their family/friends/coworkers/employers.

      I would definitely address the picture of the snack drawer, if only to make yourself feel better.

      1. MBK*

        Yes, this. So many people tend to become evangelistic about big lifestyle changes they make. It’s understandable, because making that kind of change requires an expenditure of mental energy and commitment that inevitably changes how they see the world around them. And they can’t see their “obsession” with the issue as a bad thing, because it might cause their own commitment to crack.

        It’s understandable. But it’s also intolerable and inappropriate. I hope you find a reasonable way to put a stop to her externalization, OP.

        1. Allypopx*

          Yes, very empathetic point. The self-congratulatory, high horse attitude is often very necessary for people to stick to drastic life changes, and what the nanny has achieved is very difficult and has probably shifted her worldview in a variety of ways. That said, these thoughts need to stay in her head.

          1. JJJBB*

            She needs to be told that, while she’s changed her eating habits, you are not unhealthy or trying to lose weight. There is no prize for eating the “healthiest” foods and we are all allowed to eat snacks, etc., regardless of what her food rules are for herself. Unless she’s acquired a nutrition degree, she’s also not an expert just because she lost weight. This could be a deal breaker, especially since she’s not stopping and is now invading your privacy by taking pictures.

            1. Autistic AF*

              Whether OP is healthy or trying to lose weight is irrelevant – it violates the boundaries of this relationship regardless.

        2. Joielle*

          Oh god yeah. I did a Whole30 a couple of years ago and was completely insufferable about it (NOT at work, but sorry friends and family). It’s kind of all-consuming. After my spouse was like “can we please talk about anything else” a couple of times I realized what an ass I was being. But yeah, even a person who isn’t usually like that can lose it over diet stuff.

          1. Anon Lawyer*

            Fortunately, Facebook has a “snooze for 30 days” feature that is perfect for muting people who just started Whole30.

          2. Campfire Raccoon*

            LOL! My neighbors just started Whole30. I just throw kale over the fence and run in the other direction.

            1. Her Blondeness*

              Thanks for the visual of a raccoon throwing kale over a fence. I laughed so hard the dog woke up.

          3. Hemingway*

            I’ve had an eating disorder for a long time and now am a bit overweight, but happy and healthy and the worst is getting messages to “join” the diet club. ahhhhh, noooooo.

        3. Lucien Nova*

          I used to be utterly unable to gain weight no matter what I tried – at roughly 157cm I was 32kg (at worst) to 36 (at best). You could see damn near every bone in my body. I was clearly very ill and no one had any idea why.

          The comments I got from people? “I wish I was as thin as you!” (no, no you do not – we discovered years later I have a malabsorption issue and my body was literally poisoning itself slowly by not moving waste) or “You need to lose more weight, your stomach sticks out and it looks bad.”

          I still don’t understand the second one over ten years on. Much less how more than one unrelated person felt it necessary to say that.

          1. allathian*

            I’m so sorry this happened to you and I hope you’re feeling better now.

            People should just stop commenting on other people’s bodies or the food they eat.

            A coworker returned to work after a few months’ absence and after she’d lost a lot of weight. She was at most slightly plump before but when she came back to work she was clearly underweight. Some were very complimentary and during one of our coffee breaks another coworker asked her what her secret was. She just looked pointedly at the person and took her wig off. She had cancer and the chemo made her lose her hair. The coworker who put her foot in it looked mortified, but at least that cured her of the habit of commenting on people’s bodies.

            1. caps22*

              Good for your coworker for doing that. I had a coworker who had a similar transformation, and worse (for nosey people), she had suddenly transformed her diet to extreme low calorie. Everyone thought she was anorexic. Eventually, after becoming friends with her, she confided that she developed a severe intolerance to fat as a rare side effect of a common condition she had, and so couldn’t eat anything but the plainest of vegetables and starches like rice. No bread even, much less any prepared food. She hated talking about it because it was depressing to her to give up almost all food.

      2. Lurker Llama*

        I too have had an employee that lost some weight and every. single. conversation became about how much his health had improved with suggestions for me and my family. I mentioned my young child’s eczema and he had a solution for how his (a late-30s guy) skin had improved with his diet with all kinds of suggestions for her what to feed her to fix it. She was tiny and we ate mostly healthy (like OP) at home. My blood pressure spiked during a minor procedure and I called him to tell him I’d be late and why to be treated to a lecture about how much his blood pressure had improved due to his new diet. When I was already freaking out.

        I really like Alison’s advice here. Definitely follow it before you snap. Unfortunately I snapped. It was right around the time I was realizing I hated running my own business.

    3. Cats on a Bench*

      Agreed. And this might be an opening to discuss photographing you, your child or your home in general if you haven’t done so already. And by discuss I mean, tell her what you expect in terms of your privacy… if she can take pictures at all. If you allow picture taking, can she send them to others or post on social media without asking? If you haven’t talked about this, then you need to because people post stuff on their social media all the time without thinking, even stuff of other people’s kids. Tell her your boundaries on this issue.

      1. Joan Rivers*

        Excellent answer, but also, this is an excellent point.

        If her judgment is so bad that she’d post a photo or show people, that’s disturbing.

        As a former nanny, one thing I know is that a nanny knows she works for the parents, but her primary relationship is w/the child, if she’s at all good at her job. You tell her what to do, and you pay her, but it’s a unique situation because she’s not cleaning your house, she’s caring for an actual human, it’s human interaction.
        And she may feel she knows things you don’t. Which is fine, but this seems rude and inappropriate.

      2. GreenDoor*

        This! Make sure you’re clear on the extent to which you’re OK with her sharing pictures of your child. And also, if you and spouse return to work and she’s in the house alone with the baby, you don’t need her posting pictures of your house, especially private areas of your home or valuable things that might make you the target for thieves.

  2. Rusty Shackelford*

    First, someone who is this judgmental to her boss, to her face, is absolutely going to be judgemental to the boss’s child behind her back.

    Second, you think she took a picture of something in your house to make fun of you? And you wonder what you should do about her? Fire. Her. Ass.

    1. Morticia*

      I have to say I agree with this. I usually favour giving people a chance to change, but when she violates your privacy like this to say nasty things to others, she is not someone you want in your house.

    2. Colette*

      I disagree that you should fire someone because of your interpretation of what they were doing. (The OP doesn’t even know which way the camera was facing!) Having a conversation is reasonable; leaving yourself without childcare because of your interpretation of someone who may have taken a picture of snacks is not.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I mean, she probably wasn’t taking a selfie with a snack drawer open. That seems pretty unlikely and it seems more likely that the LW could see her screen or tell what she was doing. I do think that a firm conversation should be had before a firing is in consideration, but I also think LW should be prepared to fire her if needed.

        1. Colette*

          Probably not, but I know I’ve done stranger things! And I don’t even understand why she’d take a picture of snacks unless she wants to know what kind to buy. The average person isn’t going to care that the OP has snacks in her house, because the vast majority of them do, too.

          1. pancakes*

            There are a *lot* of people who post odd, tendentious things that no one really cares about to social media. The question here isn’t really “would the average person care what’s in the letter writer’s snack drawer,” it’s “what was the nanny up to with the snack drawer?”

          2. Hemingway*

            But the nanny really cares and she has been pretty inappropriate around what her boss eats, so I don’t think it would be out of the norm for whatever this nanny does or who she talks to or interacts with on social media.

          3. Quill*

            That said, someone who has been making such pointed comments about OP having made different dietary choices than them is far more likely to be part of online communities where people DO bond over dragging other people’s snack choices.

          4. TootsNYC*

            I take pictures of odd, interesting things to “chat” about with my Facebook contacts. The funny sweatshirt (“Jackson Heights Social Distancing Club”) in the store window; an infuriating alignment of a stop sign; an arrangement of disparate stuff on my dining room table that tells you what my week has been like.

            It’s a way to have a visual aspect to the conversation. So I can see someone whose main convos are about food taking a picture for the reason the OP surmises. I think it’s worth asking, though–if only to demonstrate to the nanny that you aren’t going to leap to conclusions (though ACTUALLY not leaping to conclusions is a good thing as well).

          5. JSPA*

            People mocking the houses or diets of people they clean for or nanny for is, unfortunately, a Thing. As in, there are entire communities devoted to it.

          1. cryptid*

            yes, in a legal setting. this isn’t a legal setting – you don’t have to have a trial to decide you don’t want to have someone in your house anymore, wtf.

          2. Sue*

            30 years ago we hired a highly recommended nanny and things seemed to be going ok. Then one day I was working at my office and got a call from a man at her church. He identified himself and told me a number of very unflattering, even slanderous things the nanny was saying about us (food among them). I called my husband then drove home, paid her severance and arranged for emergency childcare. She didn’t even exactly deny she’d done it, just kind of that it was misunderstood (!!) I was in absolute shock but I don’t regret it at all. I wasn’t going to leave my baby with this woman who apparently wanted attention so badly she would make up stories about us. 30 years and it still gives me shivers. No second chances, no due process, just go. And then I hired a jewel who stayed with us for years.

            1. no parachute*

              So the stories the man told you that she had told him had no basis in reality? So you don’t know if she had told him them, or if he had made them up entirely to get her fired?

              1. Nic*

                I think you’re missing the fact that Sue says the nanny didn’t deny saying the things. At that point it’s clear that the man wasn’t making up things out of spite to get her fired; she had said the things, and it doesn’t matter much whether it was directly to him or just(!) general gossip being bandied freely around her church.

                1. Sue*

                  Yes and she had said some things about her previous employers (they never ate fruit was one I remember) and she was telling people at her church that she was going to call CPS on us. She spent about 10 minutes a day in our company so she knew very little about us and the idea was ludicrous. The guy identified himself and was very open about it all and then confirmed by my conversation with her, there was NO doubt that she’d done it. I would see her name sometimes afterwards when she wrote odd letters to the newspaper. Not good memories.

                2. Brad Fitt*

                  Hold up. A guy at her church says she told him she’s going to call CPS on you and his response is to … call and warn the abusive parents. That’s, uh, real christlike of him. I knew there was a reason I never go to church jfc omg

                3. Salyan*

                  People that go to church together often know each other quite well. There’s a good chance he knew she had a tendency to make things up and could ‘read’ the truthfulness of her gossip.

          3. Rusty Shackelford*

            Even a person who’s guilty as hell should get a fair hearing.

            Actually, no one watching my child in my home has the right to a fair hearing. The second I’m uncomfortable with them, I have the right to ask them to leave, and the only right they have is to be fairly paid for what they’ve already done.

          4. Salymander*

            This isn’t a court of law. It is the OP’s home, in which the nanny is taking care of OP’s child. It isn’t necessary to prove that the nanny has been a certain level of inappropriate before firing. The food comments are not good. The possible food comments to a child would be really terrible. Folks in the grip of this kind of inappropriate diet evangelism/shaming thing are not always careful about who they harp on. And taking a photo of the contents of a snack drawer in someone’s house is bad, even if the nanny wasn’t using it as fodder for online bashing of other people’s dietary choices. And I think maybe the nanny was doing just that, which is a violation of trust. Even if it was for the nanny’s own personal collection of judgey photos and not meant to be shared, it is still disrespectful and inappropriate.

      2. Former call centre worker*

        I agree, but more to the point, leaving someone without a source of income based on your interpretation of the intentions behind a photo you think you saw them take isn’t ok. It needs a conversation first at the least.

        1. Ashley*

          When you are in someone else’s home the number of times it is acceptable to take photos is fairly limited. Their intention doesn’t matter if it leaves you feeling violated.

          1. Former call centre worker*

            The letter writer isn’t necessarily correct that a photo was taken at all. They can get a better sense of whether they were right by having a conversation and not jumping to conclusions. But if the person was actually taking a photo and it turns out, say, that they photographed a packet of food to remind themselves to buy one for themselves later (hypocrisy aside), I can’t see an issue with that.

            1. TootsNYC*

              I think we should assume she’s not making things up or exaggerating. I think that if there were some actual question whether that was a photo “click” from the phone, or whether the nanny was perhaps playing a game or scrolling Reddit while getting a snack out, she would have said that.

            2. GothicBee*

              Right, and even if she was taking a picture, I think Alison brought up some fair points about the possibility she was doing something other than taking a picture in order to judge the LW’s snack choices. I don’t think it would necessarily be obvious to someone that taking a picture of a snack was a privacy violation.

              Also, just throwing this out there, but I used to use those food tracker apps and a lot of them have a scanner that you can use to scan a barcode. So maybe it’s possible she was just scanning a snack she had/was planning to have?

              The LW should feel free to tell the nanny not to take pics inside the house though, if that’s important to them. But I don’t think jumping to firing is a good option here without a conversation first (especially since the LW said they don’t want to fire her).

              1. BHB*

                Barcode scanning for a food tracking app was my first thought as well. Either that or maybe a photo to send to someone else to illustrate that she’s finding it a little tough to be around tempting snacks all the time (not in a “I’m shaming my employer for the unhealthy food they’ve bought” way, more like a “argh I’m trying so hard to eat healthily but it’s tough when I’ve got unfettered access to this drawer of tasty snacks!” thing).

                1. C is for Cookie*

                  This was what I thought it might be about. Sometimes taking a photo of what you don’t eat means it’s easier to NOT eat said temptation.

                  I think it’d be fair for OP to give them the benefit of the doubt once, and to set some guidelines with the Nanny: “We will not allow you to talk down about our food choices, period. To us or to our child. Our food choices are ours and not to be commented on. We will always make sure you have food available during the day for you to eat. We also want to make it clear what our rules are for photos in the house. I noticed you took a picture of our snack drawer the other day, and I am concerned you might have shared it in an inappropriate way. We do not allow you to take any photos in our house, or of our child unless you are sending us those photos as documentation of your day with our child”.

                  If Nanny doesn’t follow the rules, then it’s been made very clear ahead of time.

          2. HotSauce*

            This is absolutely the correct answer. She is an employee in someone’s home. It’s not appropriate to take a selfie, or a picture of their snack drawer or anything else, really. Many work places require phones to be put away during working hours anyway. I would feel very violated having my home photographed and shared in who knows what way. It feels very unprofessional.

            1. C is for Cookie*

              When we had a nanny she would send us photos of activities the kids were doing and that was fine. Social media wasn’t so prevalent then, and we were never worried that she was posting them anywhere.

        2. Cassidy*

          >leaving someone without a source of income based on your interpretation of the intentions behind a photo you think you saw them take isn’t ok.

          Taking a photo of people’s food without their expressed permission isn’t okay. In fact, it’s the the nanny leaving herself without a source of income by photographing her boss’s food drawer without having asked permission.

          I am honestly at a loss for all the excuse-making here. Is it not possible that the nanny is in the wrong, plain and simple? Is that just too hard to fathom?


          1. Allypopx*

            Also the nanny has *admitted* to mocking the OP behind her back to her friends, has been repeatedly asked to lighten up on the food talk and is not, and is being rude, untrustworthy, and frankly mean while working in the OP’s home and caring for the OP’s child.

            “Fired for your interpretation of an action” is a grossly apologetic oversimplification of the situation.

          2. boop the first*

            Totally agree and adding on that to leave the nanny without an income would also be leaving OP without an income since SOMEONE has to take over the caretaking work so… it’s not like OP would be flippantly leaving someone out of the cold for fun or anything.

            1. Former call centre worker*

              Firing her without a conversation to set boundaries and find out if the letter writer’s interpretation of the *possible* photograph is correct, would be pretty flippant. If the nanny is given a chance to change her behaviour and doesn’t, that’s on her. But drawing conclusions and firing her for a photograph that may not even exist would be on the LW.

              I don’t think we should be assuming that LW will have to give up work due to the temporary lack of childcare if the nanny is fired, which seems to be what you’re suggesting by saying that LW will lose their income by firing the nanny.

              1. meyer lemon*

                Okay, but this leaves out all of the other context that the LW has provided around the nanny making judgmental comments around food in their home, and mocking their food choices to her friends, even after being asked to stop pretty directly. I’m not saying that the LW should fire her without having a more substantial conversation first, but it’s not like the photo thing is the central concern.

              2. Uranus Wars*

                The LW has said both “We want to teach [baby] that foods aren’t good or bad, and all bodies are good bodies” and “I can’t really talk about food and weight this much; it’s not healthy for me.” and the nanny hasn’t changed her behavior.

                OP can say again to say “We do not talk about X and if you say it again you’ll be fired” and ask about the picture, or leave the picture incident out if she wants. It’s the whole package that is odd, and the picture, IMO, is the least worrisome of the whole situation.

              3. SimplyTheBest*

                The boundaries were set during the multiple conversations OP has had with the nanny telling her to quit the food nonsense. It’s not flippant for the photograph to be the last straw.

          3. Former call centre worker*

            See my comment above. The nanny deserves a chance to explain rather than assuming that she was taking a photo and assuming there wasn’t an innocent motive.

            I don’t think taking a photo of someone’s food should lead to being fired as a matter of course. If she’d taken a picture of, say, a carton of fuit juice because she wanted to try that brand herself it wouldn’t even have made it into the letter and you wouldn’t be recommending sacking the person for that

            1. hbc*

              I agree someone shouldn’t be fired for taking a picture of food. I also think someone who has repeatedly made negative comments about food even after being told to cut it out has forfeited the benefit of the doubt when she is, say, inspired to take an artsy photo because the light hit the Doritos bag just right.

              Sometimes we debate whether the last straw really broke the camel’s back, instead of looking at the giant pile of hay and saying, “You know what, this is all too much.”

              1. Amaranth*

                I’d also be slightly concerned how her food evangelism translates towards my child, first of all. I hadn’t seen any comments from OP where this was a concern, but my mother told me she adhered to my food choices for my baby, and flat out did what she wanted when I wasn’t around.

                1. Brad Fitt*

                  Yeah as soon as I saw “nanny with toxic, moralizing attitudes about food” all I could think about was Mallory Archer taking the bottle away because the baby was getting too fat.

        3. Dust Bunny*

          If you need the income, don’t do weird, intrusive, and questionable things in your workplace. Or harass your bosses about their food.

      3. Amy the Rev*

        Yes- many possible explanations: she might’ve been using the camera feature to do a quick-add in MyFitnessPal or some other diet/calorie counting app…It has a feature where you scan the barcode and it instantly uploads all the nutrition information so you can add it to your food diary that day

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          I was going to make this same point. Maybe she saw something in the snack drawer that looked good to her and she wanted to scan it into her food tracking app to find out if it fit the parameters of her diet.

        2. E*

          This, exactly! Calorie-counting is a great concept but it takes TIME. Quick barcode feature is fabulous.

          It’s perfectly probable that she maintains her loss while still having a snack from time to time.

        3. Cassidy*

          I do not understand the excuses for photographing something in the boss’s cabinet.

          A reasonable asks permission to do so and explains why s/he is asking permission.

          Come ON!

          1. Lady Meyneth*

            Oh come on! She’s living there, and OP hints she has access to the household food. Whyever would she need permission to scan a snack’s barcode? If that’s what happened, it’d be perfectly fine and inocent.

            OP should absolutely have a conversation with the nanny, about the food rants, and verifying what this picture was about. But it doesn’t need to be some nefarious sin.

              1. Lady Meyneth*

                Isn’t that the main difference between a nanny and a babysitter? Or is that not true everywhere?

                1. Rusty Shackelford*

                  In my area, a nanny is someone who provides full-time (~40 hr/wk) care in the child’s home, but doesn’t necessarily live there. A babysitter is either an ad hoc arrangement, or someone who provides full-time care in their own home. An odd distinction, now that I think about it.

                2. Boof*

                  I think of it as the difference between a professional and an amateur who’s got a little something on the side.
                  Like hiring a lawn service vs a kid to mow your lawn

                3. Salymander*

                  Sometimes a nanny is live-in, but many are not. I was a nanny for years, and none of my jobs were live-in. Of all the nannies I met (a lot!), only a few were live-in. Most of those had their own apartment on site. Only one was living in the home with the family, and the boundary violations were extreme from the family members and the nanny. It didn’t last long.

                  Working in someone’s home and especially with their children requires an understanding of
                  healthy boundaries in order to really work out well. This nanny seems to be ignoring those boundaries in ways that would be unhealthy to deal with on a daily basis and unpleasant to live with in OP’s own home.

          2. Luke G*

            Ditto on Lady Meyneth’s response. If I invited employees to my home for a dinner party, they’d darn well better not photograph my stuff without permission. If I leave snack food sitting on our lunch table and one of them snapped a picture or a bar code scan for later reference, that wouldn’t be weird since it’s in public work space. For this Nanny, being in the boss’ kitchen cabinets is literally part of her job, not some sort of private intrusion.

            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              If I leave snack food sitting on our lunch table and one of them snapped a picture or a bar code scan for later reference, that wouldn’t be weird since it’s in public work space. For this Nanny, being in the boss’ kitchen cabinets is literally part of her job, not some sort of private intrusion.

              No, sorry, my home is not a “public work space” just because you work there. It’s my home first. Being in the boss’s cabinets may be part of her job, but taking pictures of things in my house she might be interested in is not. Anyway, the OP has already clarified that the nanny does not eat the food in this snack drawer, so all of those “for reference purposes” suggestions are moot.

              1. A*

                and you have the right to not have this convo if you ever find yourself in this situation – it doesn’t make the suggestion that a conversation might be in order ‘wrong’. It’s possible for everyone to have differing opinions without one of them being the ‘right’ or ‘best’ approach. OP wrote in for a reason, if they didn’t want suggestions they would have just fired the nanny.

                1. Rusty Shackelford*

                  No, it’s not wrong to suggest that the LW might want to have this conversation. It IS wrong, very wrong, to insist that the nanny has a right to it.

                2. Rusty Shackelford*

                  Actually, you weren’t saying the nanny had a right to it – I was conflating a couple of comments. Sorry!

          3. Ask a Manager* Post author

            It’s not excuse making. It’s “you don’t fire someone without finding out if your assumption is correct, and here are some reasons your assumption could be wrong so have the conversation.”

            1. TootsNYC*

              in addition to ACTUALLY finding out if your assumption is correct, there’s this (if you only want to be cynical, even if not honorable): You will have a lot less drama if you establish that assumption openly, and you will be demonstrating that you are behaving fairly, which will also cut down the drama.

          4. GothicBee*

            To be fair, if she was using a barcode scanner as Amy the Rev suggested, it doesn’t take a picture, just scans the barcode on the food item and links it to your food tracking app.

            1. Dust Bunny*

              Barcode scanners usually have to be held pretty close to the barcode–you don’t just take a picture of the whole drawer.

        4. CircleBack*

          I assumed she took a photo so she could look up the items later and see which ones fit into her diet. There are innocuous explanations other than judgment, so the LW should have the conversation first.

          1. Amaranth*

            OP seems pretty certain it was a photo, but even if it was a scan of a nutrition label, I think the fact that OP has that immediate reaction is an indication at how they are on their last nerve with this nanny’s criticism. If your first thought is that your employee is setting you up for mockery, then its time to decide laying out the rules very directly is going to make you feel comfortable with this person or if they need to go.

        5. Dream Jobbed*

          Or she could have taken a photo to post online, but with the theme of “so much temptation!” rather than “see how badly they eat!” I could imagine myself doing that when I was younger.

          Sometimes thoughtless is just thought less.

    3. Code Monkey, the SQL*

      Yes, this.

      OP, I know it’s hard! I know she can be a great nanny and it’s worked out so far and it’s incredibly stressful to find childcare in these circumstances and…

      And she’s taking pictures of your food, for what purpose you don’t know. She’s commenting negatively on things after you’ve directly asked her to stop. At the very, very least, you need to give her a final warning that whatever her personal views on your home’s caloric management, she needs to keep them 100% to herself.

    4. Tabby*

      This is exactly where I landed. Get. Her. Out. It is not her place to criticize the interior of someone’s house unless it’s a health hazard. I’ve seen some pretty gnarly things as a dogwalker, and said absolutely nothing unless there was something hazardous to myself or the animal at play (mouldy food in the dog’s dish, feces/pee everywhere, the animal seems very underweight for its age/breed, I’m expected to stay overnight in a home that’s extremely cluttered and/or dirty (I have 2 clients for whom I will NEVER do overnight stays because the housekeeping leaves much to be desired, but isn’t actually hazardous to be in for 30 minutes, even if it makes me cringe).) But this? No, ma’am, you will not be taking pictures of my food, or criticizing every meal, and continue to be employed by me. The actual factual what?

    5. juliebulie*

      I agree. You don’t take pictures of the inside of your employer’s home without an explanation! That’s very intrusive. She clearly has a problem with boundaries.

    6. Anon Lawyer*

      Normally, yes, but I get the issue – it is extraordinarily hard to find childcare right now and there are not good stop gaps while you look for something new. I’m lucky to have family support but I have friends who have had no choice but to take a leave of absence. I also have a friend whose kid just got covid from their nanny so I get the temptation to put up with someone annoying if you think they’re safe. (And with a baby the effect of being judgmental to the kid is limited.)

      1. Anon Lawyer*

        (That said, OP, at the risk of offering unsolicited advice I might revisit daycares. They’re mostly doing a pod system where you’ll be with the same kids and adults all day. You won’t be going in and the adults will (or should be) masked. Since kid-to-kid transmission is not as prevalent, you actually have fewer points of contact between adults which can be beneficial.)

        1. Louise*

          Some daycare workers in some states qualify for vaccines which might help add to the comfort of a daycare setting. It isn’t foolproof because really you need a day care where the other parents are in line with you are precautions.

          1. JustaTech*

            My friend’s daycare (where all the parents work for the same hospital system) has only had one possible exposure in the past year. Everyone in that room was sent home and the facility was deep-cleaned, and it didn’t spread. So it is possible to do a pretty good job, even if the other families are high-risk.

        2. OP HERE*

          Unfortunately, we wouldn’t be able to get a child into infant daycare right now for love or money. When we decided to go the nanny route, we decided to forego the mile-long waitlists. Daycares ARE being very careful, which also means reduced capacity, particularly for very young children who have low ratios anyway. We would likely be looking at a gap of several weeks or longer – months, even – if we decided to go that direction.

          1. bunniferous*

            Get on that waiting list now then. You want to have that options if things don’t work out well after that conversation.

            1. Anon Lawyer*

              I also think it’s fine to start looking for a new nanny now in case it doesn’t work out. Normally that might not be best practice, but there aren’t a lot of options right now. Plan to pay severance and I think that’s the best you can do.

            2. Joan Rivers*

              People jumping right to “fire her!” don’t seem to appreciate that finding someone and background checking them to take care of your precious offspring is not just fitting a new widget into the slot.

              Children and nannies and parents are all human beings and if someone is mostly very skilled, it’s worth a conversation. Nannies aren’t robots, they’re people, and so are housekeepers and other household help.

              When I interviewed to nanny for w guy on Park Ave. he said, “Of course, we wish you could be there to do the job and then just disappear the rest of the time.”

              But a nanny IS there and has a mind. She needs to be respectful, but you can’t control what goes on in her head.

            3. Generic Name*

              Exactly. If a spot opens and you don’t need/want it, you can decline. I’ve got my son on at least 3 waiting lists for a certain type of therapy, and of course I don’t intend for him to go to all 3 places should spots open. I’m hedging my bets.

          2. Former Nanny*

            Hey OP! I feel for you in this situation; I’m currently working nights because of how difficult childcare is right now. If there are moms groups on social media, particularly Facebook, I’ve had many friends find ways to connect with new nanny options there rather than like on Care or an agency. Also as a former nanny, I wanted to affirm again that you should have the expectation of privacy in your home and this kind of behavior is rude and outrageous; especially given what you have already said. I’ve privately disagreed with families over stuff like screen content time or allowing exposure of violent content for young kids and even then when I felt very strong I shared my concerns non judgementally and fully accepted the choices of the parents, even when I disagreed strongly. All the best to you navigating how especially difficult parenting is right now.

          3. LadyofLasers*

            Sooo things may be different in your area, but I had to scramble to find childcare quickly when I landed a job and I found the daycare waiting lists much shorter than I expected. I think since a lot of people have pulled their kids due to COVID daycares have more spots than they usually do. It might be worth asking

      2. Jerry Larry Terry Garry*

        Exactly! Firing childcare in general is fraught, putting up with this nonsense for safety is probably a reasonable tradeoff.
        Doesn’t mean the conversation shouldn’t occur.

    7. Hei Hei, the Chicken from Moana*

      nononononononononono – diet culture is HORRIBLE. It trains your brain to think of food as good or evil. I’m not excusing her behavior, I’m here to say do a little bit of research on how insidious diet culture is!

      1. Autistic AF*

        That sounds like another reason to find a replacement to me – I wouldn’t want my child absorbing that mindset, regardless of its insidiousness.

    8. nanny breaking shelter in place*

      It’s not that simple. Firing could be a disaster. I posted before that we had a nanny breaking covid shelter-in-place orders multiple times for fun in a super hot-spot (but was willing to quarantine after traveling unpaid two weeks, so it wasn’t our own health per se that was our concern, it was that she was potentially exposing a host of other people and we found it immoral). Everyone on Ask A Manager told me to fire her, many said we could easily find a replacement… She was great in every other way but we finally ended up firing… Guess what, it was completely impossible to find a replacement (and our daughter was extremely unhappy). Nannies were in so high demand that we couldn’t find anybody, even at 25% higher pay (and we were already paying way above market rate at the time). In the end our daughter decided to be ‘her own nanny’ and it sort of worked out, but firing a nanny and finding a replacement can be really, really hard. OP, if there’s anything you can do to correct this behavior, that should be tried first (we tried that with our nanny… well, in our case she flat refused, saying it was her right to travel).

      1. Anon Comment*

        Yeah, this tracks. You’ve gotta weigh the pros-cons for the immediate moment. This isn’t forever. It’s until circumstances change and you have other options. There’s a certain point where you increase your tolerance for actions that do not harm your child, because the alternative is worse. You know the market where you are, OP.

        Your kid is an infant. Nanny isn’t going to transmit her food issues to the kid until it’s older, eating solid foods, and able to comprehend human speech. Is it long-term healthy? No. Is it short-term fine? Yes. Sure, try to talk to her. But … if it’s just her being judgey to me and my husband (even if she’s posting about us being gluttons on social media)… I’d learn to roll my eyes until I have a tangible other option. Your eating habits are FINE. You know that, I know that. It doesn’t matter what she or her “friends” think.

        1. Observer*

          Nanny isn’t going to transmit her food issues to the kid until it’s older, eating solid foods, and able to comprehend human speech.

          Which is not going to be as long as you seem to think. Which means that the OP needs to start thinking about this as soon as is possible.

          1. Amaranth*

            It also isn’t just about attitudes towards food, but OP should be certain that the nanny is following the proper diet for their child and not making alterations due to some inflated idea of her dietician credentials.

    9. Colleague’s Dog’s Viking Funeral*

      Remember, it’s not just about you.
      If she were the world’s best housekeeper, personal accountant, landscaper, attorney, you might put up with her proselytizing because her services outweigh her quirks. And she’s not affecting your life. She’s insulting you, but hey, she does good work and that’s all that matters.
      But she’s your child’s primary caregiver. And she thinks that food is bad. And that body image is everything. And that she is right.
      And she will be teaching your child this.
      So before you think, you are stuck with this person, remember you are letting this person influence what and how your child eats and how s/he feels about food.

      1. Quiet Liberal*

        Of everything In Alison’s reply, this is what sticks out to me – “you can’t be so afraid to lose an employee that you don’t address serious problems”. When I was a manager, I worried about offending a really horrid employee who was a fabulous producer by bringing up their problematic shortcomings. A grand boss gave me the same advice as Alison’s above….though they worded it like this, “don’t ever let an employee make you think they’ve got you over a barrel”. It was the best advice I’ve ever gotten.

  3. Bob*

    “Are there any other feasible interpretations of what you saw”
    Forget interpretations or maybes, ask her about it.

    1. twocents*

      It can help to think of alternate stories in advance, so that OP isn’t approaching the conversation with only one possibility in mind. Especially one that has her angry, on edge, and defensive. Even if she tries to be very calm, mentally thinking someone is a terrible person can be conveyed nonverbally.

      1. Knope knope knope*

        There are a lot of weight loss forums online. WW has a social media component that’s very visual. There are Reddit’s etc. I wonder if she was snapping a pic to show the temptation she was resisting to others to get support. Could see it happening.

        1. Brad Fitt*

          This checks out. The performative flagellation and competitive martyrdom in Dietland is effing disgusting.

      2. E*

        Oh, this has definitely happened to me.

        “I am asking you a question rather than straight-up accusing you because I want to you SQUIRM while you realise there is no way out! Ahaha! I am a ball of righteous rage, majestic like the sun itself!”

        “It was my evil twin. She does the shopping on Tuesdays. You wrote ‘Evil Twin Shops Tuesdays’ in your diary to make sure you wouldn’t forget again.”

        “Oh. Oh no. But… majestic ball of righteous rage!”

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Yep. No different than if you caught her in your desk drawer at work taking pictures.
      “What are you doing and why are you doing it?”
      She is in your HOME. She is your payroll.

      My goodness, I would not take out a camera in a friend’s home, never mind someone who was employing me.

      It seems like such a simple thing to remedy. I have been “caught” doing some odd things. I see the expression on my cohorts face and I cut directly to explaining: “So this piece of paper fell down behind the cabinet. I thought I would move the cabinet sideways to get the paper and then [everything went wrong and I look foolish].”

      I am really surprised she did not explain what she was doing. She. is. in. your. house.
      However, you, OP, are The One Who Signs Her Paycheck. If no explanation is offered, then it is fine for you to say, “hey, what’s up?” right in the moment. And you should.

      The problem with the food criticisms is that it’s eroding the quality of the business relationships. Why it is happening does not really matter because that does not solve anything. You are each annoying each other for different reasons. She is annoyed that you don’t eat HER diet.(yeah, okay, get over it) And you are annoyed because you did not hire a nutritionist for your family. (actually reasonable annoyance) If this circular problem cannot be stopped, I do not see a long-lasting relationship here.

      So now we have the moment of truth. You ask her if she was taking pictures of your food. Do you think her answer will be honest? Are you waiting to decide in the moment if you believe her? If you are filled with dread asking her about her new photography hobby, then this relationship might already be over.

  4. Nethwen*

    Photographing your food is weird and invasive, but if you’re looking for a possible positive explanation, it could be that she’s working with a nutrition coach and wanted to see which of the items in the drawer would be the least likely to set her back in her goals or most likely to move her towards her goals. That suggested, I think it’s reasonable to ask her why she took the photo.

    1. Just Another Zebra*

      Many calorie counting apps have the option to scan bar codes, and all the dietary info is already uploaded. Also possible she was manually inputting the info into an app.

      It’s still weird and invasive and should warrant an explanation.

      1. Bostonian*

        Yeah, I thought of this too, since I used to use one of those apps. The key thing is whether she was picking up one item out of the drawer (to scan it) or was photographing the entire drawer. You wouldn’t be photographing a larger area if you were trying to target one bar code. (I know from experience!)

        That aside, if OP is able to determine that the nanny WAS photographing the drawer to make fun of them (I can totally picture the nanny posting to social media with some sort of derogatory caption- that sort of public shaming is unfortunately SO common), that is a HUGE violation of trust and privacy.

    2. LCH*

      This is a thought I had too. Along with Jane might be so focused on the food in the house because of temptation. Although that doesn’t make it okay to keep commenting to OP, just gives an explanation of why she’s been so relentless.

      1. TheseOldWings*

        I think this is most likely. My mom is also like this and is always talking about the junk food we have in our house because she struggles with her weight and wants to eat everything. Of course, it’s easier to tell my mom to knock it off so I sympathize with OP.

    3. Smithy*

      My mom’s a dietitian, and growing up food was a really loaded in many many ways for me. That being said, it may also be why my mind went immediately to the photo being about a conversation with a dietician/nutritionist/weight loss community.

      Whenever I’m visiting my mom and pick up a new snack food – particularly one she’s not familiar with – she’s immediately looking to read the back. When I was younger, I found this incredibly upsetting and triggering, but with time I’ve learned to settle that it’s not so much about judging me and rather being curious about what it means that a chip is made out of a chicken or puffed tiger lily seeds.

      It may honestly be a conversation for some kind of weight loss community where it’s posed as “here are the snacks in my workplace, what is the best for our agreed open weight loss journey and at what quantity?” She may have been doing this to be less intrusive and actually more accomodating, so that she knows that 10 peanut butter filled pretzels are a better option for her than the popcorn.

      The OP’s nanny clearly needs to modify what she’s saying and is being inappropriate. But the assumption that the photo is only for nefarious or mean-spirited reasons likely isn’t going to help the overall conversation the OP is looking to have.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Unfortunately, nanny left herself wide open for suspicion when she did not explain what she was doing.

        1. Smithy*

          The nanny has left herself open to the larger conversation around appropriate commentary on food. But I don’t think the OP’s assumption about the use of the photo is fair, and I also think risks making the conversation more antagonistic.

          A lot of nannies (and dog walkers, house sitters, etc.) will take photos to show their employers either of their child or home contexts – such as “here is baby’s lunch, and see how much is gone!” Add to that the fact that we have smartphones, snapping a photo at work – especially if there’s no industry guidelines or norms around it – does not have to be suspect. It could just be the nanny wanted to share a new flavor of Doritos is available. It’s not like she took a photo of the medicine cabinet that contains family prescriptions.

          1. Shan*

            The OP states in a comment further down that the nanny is fixated on the snack drawer and has made multiple comments about how bad everything contained within it is. I really don’t think this is a case of her being like “cool, spicy ranch Doritos! I have to show Kevin.”

  5. Mental Lentil*

    Employees are generally not allowed to make audio recordings, or to take pictures or videos at work without prior authorization from management.

    I don’t see how this changes just because her workplace is your home.

    1. Lucette Kensack*

      I mean, I guess. But are you really going to chase down every employee who snaps a picture of the flowers their partner sent them on their birthday? And I’m guessing a nanny takes more pictures than most employees — sending a sweet picture of the baby to Mom and Dad while they are working, etc.

      1. The problem with people*

        Why on earth would you want to take a photo of something relating to the employer? I really hope she is not taking photos of the baby because she cannot be trusted with them.

        1. pancakes*

          Commenters have raised various possibilities: for a calorie-counting app, or to seek support from fellow dieters (“look at all these temptations”), etc. Any of these are more likely than “somehow trying to harm the baby.”

        2. BubbleTea*

          I used to do childcare and I took pictures of the kids! Sometimes to send to the parents because they were being cute, sometimes for myself for the same reason, sometimes because the kids asked me too. I never shared them online unless they were unidentifiable (the photo of the toddler “hiding” in a cupboard with his little feet sticking out the bottom of the door was hilarious and the parents appreciated it too) but there was no issue at all with me having photos of them. When I left, the parents took photos of me with the kids on my last day and sent them to me.

          The weird part here isn’t that she’s taking photos, it’s that she’s being judgemental and critical when she has been told to stop. The photos are part of that problem.

        3. Maeve*

          Former nanny here. Have taken billions of pictures of babies. Did not post them publicly anywhere. Sometimes sent them to parents. Why did I take them? Well, they were cute and I loved them very much. A lot of people take pictures of babies they love. I’m very glad I have them now to look at, they’re nice memories.

    2. Metadata minion*

      Is this more of a thing in for-profit businesses? Taking pictures at work is so completely normal where I work that I would never think to ask about it unless I was taking pictures of people or posting about work very publically.

      1. SomebodyElse*

        Not that I know of. Now I’m sure there are instances where a company would ban personal photographs; schools/daycares, high security offices, banks, etc. But for an average office for an average worker, yeah, it’s not going to be a big deal.

        1. Jennie*

          100% agree. I’ve worked in a variety of industries and office settings; while restrictions certainly exist esp for sensitive/proprietary stuff (biotech R&D), for the most part it’s totally no big deal/even encouraged to take photos in the office. We take photos after whiteboarding, to commemorate events, to make jokes on Slack, whatever.

          I can easily imagine taking a photo of my desk chair to complain to my non work friends about how uncomfortable it is. I can also imagine someone who’s been dieting taking a picture of the group candy bowl. Feels different than pulling out the boss’s private snack drawer and snapping a photo. But I can see where her boundaries have been blurred; she’s got access to the kitchen and food in it; she’s maybe thinking of it as ‘my workspace’ not ‘boss’s home’ in that moment.

          To be clear she’s being really unprofessional in context, and her boss is totally right to address it.

      2. Ace in the Hole*

        I’ve worked at several places that had a “no phones” rule, but none that had a “no pictures” rule. The no-phone places pretty clearly banned them because they thought phones were distracting and/or looked unprofessional… not because they were worried about people snapping photos of ordinary workplace stuff.

        1. Littorally*

          I have worked exclusively in offices with a “no pictures” rule, and the “no phones/no electronics” rules were very specific that the problem was electronics with cameras. It’s very common.

          1. Ace in the Hole*

            Sure, I’m not trying to say it’s unusual. Just pointing out that it’s not at all universal. Something that’s not a universal expectation really needs to be explicitly stated.

      3. Z*

        I work in engineering/manufacturing. There are usually “no photos” rules because there are secret/not yet publicly released products being made, or products made for the military.

      4. Librarian of SHIELD*

        I’m in government. There are a couple of restrictions about where we’re allowed to take pictures and who else is allowed to be in them, but taking pictures isn’t entirely banned.

      5. Cat Tree*

        It’s technically not allowed, but it’s generally not enforced as long as you don’t abuse it. We don’t commonly take pictures, but I have done it a handful of times. The are parts of the job that require photos but we have a high quality dedicated camera for those things. I think the rule is on the books to make a super clear-cut case if someone is doing it in a shady way.

      6. CircleBack*

        This is only a thing in particularly sensitive businesses, I think. I’ve worked in regular for-profit corporate offices, and taking photos with phones happened relatively frequently. Sharing something on our desk with our spouse, taking a photo of a piece of mail to show a coworker in another office, etc.
        I’d probably get on trouble for posting anything publicly with my company’s name attached that puts us in a bad light, or if I was taking selfies regularly in a way that distracted from work. But no photos in the office ever would be an odd rule that I would expect to be clearly laid out to new employees during onboarding (again, considering I don’t work in a field/position where trade secrets or customer privacy are inherent concerns).

    3. merula*

      I’ve never had any restriction on taking photos or audio recordings at work. (And to the earlier question, I’ve only ever worked in for-profit businesses.)

      There are obviously always restrictions on what can or cannot be shared outside the company, or outside of a given group, and probably there are industry-specific regulations, but I wouldn’t call that a general restriction by any means.

      1. JustaTech*

        I think the only restriction on photos at work we have is taking pictures of *people* that are shared in an official capacity outside the company. So like, promotional stuff has to be approved by the person having their picture taken.

        But I take pictures all the time for my work of materials and processes and investigations. I use the big fancy Cannon dSLR we bought like 10+ years ago, but my coworker just uses her phone. (I hate having my phone out in the lab, I don’t like the risk of contamination.)

        When we’re taking lab photos it’s common to get someone’s gloved hand in the photo, but we try not to get pictures of people’s faces. (And I’ve been very clear with my one coworker that I do not want her taking pictures of my face in the lab when I’m working. At first she thought I was kidding, but I was very clear that I was upset and didn’t think it was funny and she stopped.)

    4. Jane*

      I take photographs at work all the time – it’s a large part of my job. I do it for documentary purposes, but also as a way to take notes for myself. No-one has ever spoken to me about norms or expectations around what not to photograph.

      I don’t work inside someone’s home, it’s true – but if I wanted a record of the nutritional label I’d take a photograph without thinking twice. Record keeping and notes photographs are quite different in my mind from photographing someone’s kid.

      Yes, it’s possible she was being inappropriate (her comments would drive me up the wall), but it’s also possible there was an innocent explanation for the photograph.

    5. Me*

      I work for government. We have to get permission to use pictures of other people in official work, but there is no rule we can’t make audio recordings, take photos or record video. There are people who have sensitive positions like 9-1-1 dispatchers who cannot take and share photos of privileged information.

      But it’s simply not the case that all employers have a blanket rule as you stated.

    6. BRR*

      At least for me I’m not sure there are any general policies on audio or picture/video. But I think in this letter, a photograph is part of a larger conversation anyways.

    7. Khatul Madame*

      The rule for employees in the home should be no pictures of home, family, or property.
      And if parents want pictures or videos taken and sent to them while the work – no posting of those on social media.

      I mean, we hired a contractor to renovate our bathroom and HE ASKED if he could take pictures of the finished work.

      1. Caterpie*

        I think this is a decent rule. Not to be alarmist, or akin to those Facebook posts about strange men following people at Walmart for trafficking purposes, but I’ve recently read a lot about how influencers and social media over-sharers set themselves up for burglary by displaying all the nice things they own online and whether they’re at home to protect it.

        A few years ago, a family member had their outdoor minifridge raided of its alcohol when another member posted about the family’s vacation out of state. Very small potatoes in the grand scheme of things, but it does happen and worth considering a discussion about.

      2. Malarkey01*

        We’ve employed au pairs, nannies, short and long term babysitters from age 15 to 75….and every single one of them took pictures of the kids because a) little kids are adorable and funny and b) parents love pics of the times they miss with their kids and c) caregivers develop really close relationships with the kids they watch. Having someone spend every day with a baby from 6 to 18 months is just very different from a bathroom renovator.

        I’m also in the camp though that good caregivers are like gold and and it’s fine to draw boundaries and set expectations but this is nowhere near severe enough that I’d cut my nose to spite my face.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          I’m also in the camp though that good caregivers are like gold

          I agree. I just don’t think this one is a good caregiver. Even if you ignore the photo, or find a reasonable explanation, she’s shown what I consider a serious lack of common courtesy to her employers. In their own home. Regarding their very personal choices.

        2. Early Childhood Education Person*

          I’ve worked as a nanny, in preschools, and in child care. Yes, one must get parental permission to take pictures/videos/audio of children. But, it is considered best practice in the field to use pictures, videos, or audio as documentation of children’s growth and development. Especially for infants and toddlers, since the child can’t tell a parent what they did with caregiver that day like a preschooler can. It’s one of the best ways for your child’s caregiver to show you as the parent what new skills the child has acquired, activities they are enjoying, or even how much lunch they have eaten. Yes, the caregiver and the parent should have had a conversation about how they want pictures to be used, but a nanny taking pictures is actually an excellent thing.

        3. Maeve*

          Thank you! It’s one thing to post the photos on public social media or something…but yeah as a nanny OF COURSE I took pictures of the adorable babies that I spent every day with and loved very much.

          1. pancakes*

            That makes sense. I think a better rule would be, “please don’t post photos of our home or children to social media without our consent.”

  6. qtippyqueen*

    I think the script provided is very kind and if she has any sense she will stop at that.

    The picture thing…is more suspect. But you know her best. Maybe she was trying to remember a name of a snack food as suggested. But you seem to jump to her making fun of you and your family. Why is that? Has she done this in the past? Is she a mean spirited person? I don’t know if you would jump to this if there weren’t other clues here that maybe there is something off with her.

    I think this is the bigger issue than her getting stuck on food.

    1. Sam.*

      The one thing I would change in the script is that I would ask her to stop *commenting* on their food, not just to stop criticizing it!

    2. londonedit*

      I imagine it’s because the nanny keeps commenting on how unhealthy OP’s food is – in that situation, where OP is all too aware that the nanny is extremely critical of the family’s diet, it’s not a huge stretch to conclude that if she’s taking a photo of a drawer full of snacks, it’s because she’s going to send it to a friend and say ‘See!! This is the amount of crap they have in the house! A whole drawer full of chocolate and snacks!!!’

      OP is right, when someone is losing weight it can be all-consuming. The nanny’s life is probably full of food diaries and calorie counting and can-I-have-this and I-shouldn’t-have-that. I can imagine it’s tough for her to stick to her healthy eating regime when she’s spending a lot of time around people who aren’t sticking to a weight-loss plan. But that doesn’t in any way mean it’s acceptable for her to comment on and criticise the food OP has in the house, especially after OP has already tried several times to get her to stop it.

  7. Momma Bear*

    While OP is ripping the bandaid off anyway, ask about the drawer photo. That is weird for any employee. If OP hasn’t tasked the nanny with buying food then what’s in that drawer is no concern of hers. What I would also be worried about is how her attitude about food will influence the child. If she makes comments about a choice of baby food, the kid will pick up on it. She needs to stop or she’s not truly a good nanny. I realize that OP had a hard time finding someone but I would be disinclined to keep someone if after that conversation I felt like they continued to disrespect my choices for my family. OP has tried several times to tell the nanny that food is not up for discussion. I think OP needs to be really firm and direct and if it doesn’t change, look for a new nanny or other childcare option. I would wonder what other things the nanny would criticize in my absence.

    1. CommsMan*

      This: “What I would also be worried about is how her attitude about food will influence the child. If she makes comments about a choice of baby food, the kid will pick up on it.” It can be so damaging for kids to grow up in households where weight, body size, calorie numbers, etc. are the focus of most of the conversation. It’s harmful and it sets them up for a lifetime of disordered eating patterns and increases the risk of eating disorders.

      I’m not sure this is something that needs to be brought up to the nanny herself (and if it is the case that her whole world revolves around calories as suggested by a few commenters, it probably won’t reach her anyway), but remember that this conversation is as much about protecting your child as it is about protecting you.

      1. lindsay*

        Third this point – do you want someone who obsesses over food and makes these comments around your child as they grow up? Kids pick up so much about bodies, food, and health from the adults around them, even from a young age. The nanny’s behavior is 1. inappropriate for a work setting and 2. creates a harmful environment for your child.

    2. Some Internet Rando*

      You absolutely need to ask about the photo – and regardless of what she says you should tell her that she should not be taking ANY photos of your family or home. Thats a reasonable expectation and a violation of privacy for her to be taking those photos. And frankly I would want her to not take any pictures of the baby because I dont trust her not to post them…

      NO PHOTOS is a simple rule and then you dont have to worry about what photos are ok and which ones arent.

    3. Hell in a Handbasket*

      Eh, I think ordinarily this would be a big concern, but we’re talking about a baby, and it sounds like LW is only planning to have a nanny long enough to get through the pandemic. To me, that would mean I could put up with more than I would under normal circumstances.

      1. Hell in a Handbasket*

        (I don’t mean to disagree that they should have the conversation — only responding to the idea that the nanny’s attitude will be bad for the child.)

  8. heathrowga*

    Honestly, if all your snacks fit in one drawer, you’re doing pretty well. :) (And Jane needs to learn boundaries)

        1. Cat Tree*

          My Costco-sized bags of candy don’t even fit in a drawer. Sometimes it just gets shuffled around on my counter until I work my way through it.

  9. Ali G*

    At least where I live, a lot of nannies and other childcare workers lost jobs due to the pandemic, and there is a glut of people willing to work. I think you could find a replacement, as long as you are upfront about your requirements.

  10. Lucette Kensack*

    This is tough!

    She obviously needs to stop commenting on your food, but please do keep in mind that it’s a weirdly blurry situation for her, too — eating meals together, sharing a kitchen, etc. As you address this with her, do it with a frame of understanding that if she’s restricting her eating, it may be very challenging to be in an environment filled with tasty, convenient food.

    Unless you have reason to think that she’s a jerk, it’s so unlikely that she photographed your snack supply in order to mock you. She hasn’t shown herself to be mean-spirited (right?); the first thing that came to my mind was that she sent a picture to a friend saying “Ugggggggghhh I want these Doritos so bad, stupid diet!!” or even just “It’s so hard to stay on track with all this good stuff around!”

    1. Lucette Kensack*

      Obviously I have no idea what she did with the picture, and I don’t mean to make up stories about it! My point there was just that unless she’s demonstrated the kind of snarky meanness that would lead you to believe that she’s mocking you behind your back, I think you can set that worry down.

      (And if her comments about your food ARE snarky and mean-spirited, yikes, then you need to shut it down or hire someone else!)

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        True, there is no proof of what she means to do with the photo. But given that she makes rude comments about their food to their faces, assuming she’s going to make those same comments behind their back isn’t much of a stretch.

    2. qtippyqueen*

      That is what stood out to me. There are so many reasonable, kind, or at least innocent reasons why a picture may have been taken. But the first thought was she was being made fun of. It seems to me that there is something brewing below the surface because that is not a normal leap, unless you kind of have a feeling that this person acts in a mean way, or that something is up.

      1. Locke*

        I think its a normal leap when the person we’re talking about has a history of criticizing OP’s food choices.

        1. Allypopx*

          It definitely is! And indicates that this continued food talk has already hurt the trust between OP and the nanny, which is a big problem.

      2. Ashley*

        Really because unless she is the one grocery shopping and is using it in lieu of a list (and come on online grocery shopping is awesome), what reasonable, kind, innocent reason is there for taking a picture of your employers snack drawer? I am not saying don’t ask her but I am going to say whatever she says is going to be a boundary violation.

        1. Ace in the Hole*

          Many nutrition tracking apps have a feature for automatically inputting data to your food log by taking a picture of the product’s barcode. That seems like one of the most likely reasons in this scenario.

          She might really like one of the snacks and want to remind herself next time she’s at the store. (Also, online grocery shopping is not a thing everywhere… no store in my county offers it).

          She might really like LW’s organizational system and want to copy it in her own kitchen storage.

          Heck, she might be an artist and want to use it as a reference photo for a still life painting.

          All of these are reasonable, kind, innocent reasons for taking a photo of your employer’s snack drawer. None of these are what I would consider boundary-violating transgressions – and if the LW didn’t have a rocky history with Nanny criticizing food choices I bet she wouldn’t have assumed the worst. Even if the photo was totally innocent, it’s reasonable for LW to say she doesn’t want photos taken in her house…. but I do think that’s something that deserves a conversation before jumping straight to firing someone based on an assumption.

          1. Observer*

            picture of the product’s barcode. That seems like one of the most likely reasons in this scenario.

            Except that those apps really need you to take a picture or ONE item at a time, if you want them to actually work. As for a reminder about a snack? You don’t need a photo of the snack drawer.

            Which is to say that kind interpretations that are actually highly likely are not all that easy to come by. But you are right that the fact that the OP is going there in the first place is already an issue of damaged trust. And that happened because of the nanny’s behavior.

            1. Autistic AF*

              This is my thought. I’d be photographing a single item on the counter in that scenario, not everything in the drawer.

      3. Observer*

        Actually, there are not a lot of reasons that are realistic AND acceptable. Because there is no acceptable reason to send anyone pictures of the snack drawer, even just to get commiseration.

        But you are right that the fact that the OP jumped to “is intending to make fun of us” is a major red flag all on its own.

        OP, you NEED to clear the air. How can you trust your child to someone who you have so little trust in?

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      Regardless, there is no reason for her to take a picture of it. She can complain about Doritos all she wants without needing to take a photo. I don’t want anyone working in my house to take photos to share with others unless they’ve cleared it with me beforehand.

    4. Just Another Zebra*

      I think some of that stems from the constant criticism of food. If you’re saying it to my face, why wouldn’t you say it behind my back? It didn’t seem like OP is jumping to conclusions, more like she took a tiny step and there conclusions were.

    5. Some Internet Rando*

      It doesnt matter why she took the photo – she shouldnt be taking pictures of the house and sharing them…. and frankly given the context I doubt it was for good reasons.

    6. Observer*

      he first thing that came to my mind was that she sent a picture to a friend saying “Ugggggggghhh I want these Doritos so bad, stupid diet!!” or even just “It’s so hard to stay on track with all this good stuff around!”

      That sounds likely – And it is TOTALLY out of line. The nanny has no business taking pictures of things in the house and sending them to others.

      The OP really needs to find out what the was about and act on it.

    7. tg*

      This is a blurry work/home situation, but I think it’s mentioned that this person is an experienced nanny, so they should be well able to navigate this, even if the OP hasn’t had a nanny before!

      Also, OP, congratulations on the baby and holding things together. At the moment, that’s a win.

  11. HigherEdAdminista*

    As someone who used to have an eating disorder and was, and is now, in a larger body, I can tell you there is still no excuse for this behavior. Most of my thoughts and obsessions focused on myself, but even in the instance where my disordered brain did spit out some unkind thought about someone else’s looks or eating habits, it never would have crossed my mind to vocalize them to that person, or to take pictures of them/their food so I could mock them or criticize them to someone else.

    I understand that you are in a difficult position because you are grateful for her work and it is very personal work, but this isn’t appropriate stuff.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Just want to give you my support. I’m overweight and with a fraught eating disorder history and it’s not easy at all. Totally agree that even at my worst I don’t comment about what others are eating.

    2. Jenny*

      This behavior could also be triggering for someone who had an eating disorder. My sister has struggled since we were teens with eating disorders and I honestly loathe it any time someone comments in her food because it can set her back.

    3. Spicy Tuna*

      Both of my parents have different and weird food hangups and that definitely did a number on me as a teen / young adult. Children absorb messaging about food, whether it is direct or indirect. I have moved on, but my parents still have their weird food issues, which I think is really sad as they are nearly 80

  12. Tequila & Oxford Commas*

    I’d be really concerned about the long-term impact on your child. Pediatricians, dieticians, psychologists and other child development experts recommend talking about food and bodies in a value-neutral way: foods (and body types!) aren’t “good” or “bad,” and labeling them as such actually tends to lead to less healthy eating and more issues with overweight and disordered eating. If your nanny is so preoccupied by food and body issues that she’s commenting on your food choices, that’s going to come through in how she interacts with your child. I would be extremely uncomfortable with that as a parent, and would have a hard time trusting her judgment.

    1. Allypopx*

      This this this. And OP you’re clearly already planning to model this well for your child – don’t let a nanny sabotage that. Really, it can be so damaging.

    2. Lucette Kensack*

      Yes, this is the biggest issue here. As a part of doing her job well, she needs to stop with these comments — and you need to be on the lookout for any other kind of body or food shaming/restricting/controlling that might seep into her interactions with your child.

    3. Hawkes*

      This is what I was thinking as well. I’m going to assume she isn’t letting it impact how she feeds your baby (though there are some people who have weird opinions on when and how much even newborns are allowed to eat) – but it might once your baby starts to move to a more solids-based diet, and it definitely will in the long run if baby becomes a toddler and starts understanding what’s being said around them.

    4. Regina Phalange*

      Yes, came to say this. Babies can understand language around 6 months…I get keeping this person on during the pandemic, but would want to move on from her as soon as possible. I have a 2 month old daughter and are thought of having someone who talks this way about food around her makes me cringe.

    5. StripesAndPolkaDots*

      My thought as well. Even small connents you don’t think kids will notice can have an effect. Bigger things like this will definitely leave an impression on kids toddler-age and older.

    6. Anonymous Engineer*

      THIS THIS THIS. My first thought was “I do not want someone modeling this type of behavior around my kid!”

    7. Keymaster of Gozer*

      It was comments regarding ‘that food is bad for you’ and then ‘your body size/shape is all bad because of those bad foods’ that led me into a restrictive eating disorder in my teens that I’ve now had for over 25 years.

    8. Annika*

      I was just scrolling down to see if anyone else made this point. I have food/body/weight issues stemming from childhood. I am almost 50 and still working on these issues. Please don’t let your child be exposed to someone like this.

    9. Always Late to the Party*

      Yes I think this is waaay more of a serious consideration than the food picture thing. If she can’t leave her personal issues with food at the door, she’s almost certainly going to be projecting them onto your child.

    10. Malarkey01*

      This THIS THIS!! It has taken me a lifetime to learn “food is food”. Some food makes your body run better, some tastes better, some makes you feel not great, some makes you feel full…. BUT the constant messaging around good and bad food can lead to so many long term issues.

    11. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      This. I wouldn’t want my kid to be food shamed but someone so close like a nanny. The earlier it starts the more difficult is to unlearn.

  13. Keymaster of Gozer*

    She’s being a colossal git.

    It’s never appropriate to criticise what other people are eating, or their weight, or their particular tastes. The only exception is if it’s from a medical professional and/or is the ‘wait, that food has X in it which you’re allergic to’.

    All other times? Nope. Nada. ‘I’m concerned about your health!’ style comments? Also no.

    I’m, rather sensitive about anyone criticising what I eat (have an ED and am obese) so I’d be extremely angry at her. However, for practical purposes I’d suggest the old ‘grey rock’ approach to her – essentially you don’t give any reaction or justification to her when she starts up on criticisms. “You shouldn’t eat that stuff, it’s bad for you!” is replied to by ‘thanks for your opinion’ or similar bland statements (‘huh’ is one of my favourites).

    Personally though, I’d fire her. It makes no difference if you’re working from an office or someone else’s home; you don’t get judgemental about other people’s food.

  14. Ginger*

    OP – I mean this kindly but please seriously consider replacing this person before your child begins to speak. They will 100% project their food issues onto a child. They continue to criticize your choices, AFTER you’ve been so direct, they will do behind your back to your kiddo.

    Losing weight is great, best of luck to them in their health journey. But obsessive food views is unhealthy and so detrimental to a child who needs to learn, from the beginning, to have a healthy relationship with food.

    And quite frankly, kiddos need to learn to eat what mom and dad cook for them. For your own sanity. They don’t know that each meal may not be perfectly balanced but they will pick up on their role model (the nanny) who says bad things about what you’ve made.

    I don’t see a way out of this, TBH.

    1. the cat's ass*

      What you said. OP is trying to set boundaries and Jane’s trampling all over them. Issues around food & weight can be so fraught. And the photo of the snack drawer, well, I’d like to hear the explanation for that. Update, please!

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Children understand language months or even years ahead of speaking. The skewed language around food needs to stop yesterday.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          That’s a fair point. There’s a prevailing attitude in society that the instant a woman becomes pregnant her body is now no longer her property and everyone gets to tell them what not to do/to do or even touch her. It’s an attitude that can continue after birth too, this idea that everyone can critique a mother because her life is no longer belongs to her.

          Upon realising this I’d like to apologise to OP for any comments that have come across as ‘you must do this now!’. You’re your own person :)

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        I’m no expert on children at all, but isn’t teaching them what good boundaries are part of what kids learn? On top of disordered relationships with food the kid could get the viewpoint that anyone can override your boundaries.

        (Actually I have no experience with kids, babies, toddlers so let me know if I’m talking out of my cloaca)

        1. K*

          You’re not wrong, but a young child (especially like…a pre-verbal infant) is going to have a very hard time comprehending “this person has different values about food than me, and I shouldn’t listen to them” when the person in question is a trusted guardian who’s with the child for a large portion of their waking hours. Imho this isn’t the most immediate problem to focus on, but I think it’s definitely better to have childcare from someone who is not overly fixated on “healthy” food.

        2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          Not when they are that little! You WANT toddlers to be listening to their caretakers about what they eat. It’s actually kind of vital. “No, Timmy, don’t eat dog food, that’s nasty.” “Don’t put that cheerio in your mouth, you just found it under the couch and it’s really dusty.” “Eat your broccoli.” “Your PBJ is fine, even though I cut it into squares instead of triangles.” “Vegetables are good for you.”

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I remember being at my grandparents house when I was very small, my aunt was talking baby talk to me. I could not talk much, but I remember thinking, “I shouldn’t do this to children when I grow up.” My thoughts were well out beyond what I could say at that point.

      3. allathian*

        Yeah, this. Babies are capable of thinking long before they can verbalize anything. In Deaf families or in families where one of the languages is a sign language, infants as young as 4 months are able to sign that they’re hungry or sleepy or that they’re hurting, when non-signing parents can only try to interpret what different kinds of crying mean.

    3. Autistic AF*

      100% this. I am a person who struggles with her weight, especially in pandemic times, so I understand how hard maintaining weight loss is… But the nanny is there for OP’s child, and whoever’s in that role can’t be acting harmfully towards said child, regardless of intent.

  15. Just Another Zebra*

    As someone who also has a pandemic nanny (and isn’t in the traditional income bracket to have one). I get it. This is the person you’ve trusted with your child, and finding someone safe, responsible, nurturing care giver can be exhausting.


    It’s possible that this nanny just isn’t a good fit for your home and lifestyle. Just like there is office culture, your home is her office, and the culture may just not be a good fit. It happens. Since she is an employee, and you are her manager, you need to frame your thinking in this way. As Alison said, you can’t be hung up on losing an employee. This is ultimately still your home, and the comfort of you and your child is paramount. Have one frank, line drawn in the sand conversation – no more criticizing what food comes into your home. It is your home, and what you feed your child is ultimately your choice (within reason, although my toddler definitely had a Reese’s with her waffles this morning). Ask about the picture directly. You cannot have someone in your home who makes you uncomfortable. If it’s a matter of, “I really liked X crackers”, let it go but be on guard. If it’s to shame you, that’s fireable IMO.

    1. Sara without an H*

      I remember a couple of posts on AAM recently involving nannies. The common problem seems to be confusion about roles:

      She feels different than someone I would manage at work because the lines blur a lot — she’s in our home, caring for our baby, eating lunch with us, etc.

      A nannie is not a guest, or a friendly neighbor. A nannie is an employee. And employees should be managed, i.e. given clear goals and expectations, as well as clear, actionable feedback on their performance.

      I think OP needs to start thinking of herself as a manager here, and have a polite, firm talk with this woman about her expectations. Will she quit? Possibly, although I’d be surprised. But OP needs to tell “Jane” to stay in her lane.

      Addendum: I’ve never employed a nanny, but I would assume that other rules of employer-employee relations should apply, i.e. fair market wages, reasonable time off, and no prying into the nanny’s own personal life.

      1. Just Another Zebra*

        My daughter was in daycare from the time she was an infant. They closed for 3 months during the pandemic, so we needed to do SOMETHING, and when they reopened, having one person care for her felt safer. It was definitely an adjustment (the dynamics are different than daycare, for sure). But the woman we hired had been a nanny for 20+ years, so she had a very firm grasp on boundaries/ roles/ etc. It was definitely helpful that she already had a sense of boundaries.

  16. Catherine*

    Shot in the dark here, but a lot of calorie counting apps have scanners so you can log the food you ate based on the info in the packaging. There have been a few times when I subtly try to do it and the flash goes off. Ugh. I wonder if that’s what was happening?

    1. Tequila & Oxford Commas*

      That is a good thought! Definitely a possible explanation that’s not nefarious. (But I’d still have a big problem with her other behavior.)

    2. SomebodyElse*

      Really good point. myfitnespal one of the most common ones has this feature. I’d forgotten about that.

    3. Amy the Rev*

      That’s what I thought, too! Doesn’t excuse the rude, persistent comments, but may explain what the OP saw re: her phone

    1. Campfire Raccoon*

      Same. My sister does this to my family every times she does the weight rollercoaster. She’ll comment on what my kids are eating, and compare it to what her kids are eating. It’s ridiculous because my kids are adult-sized (My 15 yo is 6’3″, 240 pounds, and built like a linebacker) and hers are 6 and 7 year-olds who still eat like birds. She’s made comments to my boys which resulted in some hurt on their sides and damage control on my side. We eat healthy enough: I grow most of our vegetables, raise our own meat… but she’s hyper focused on portion control. My husband and I avoid meal-based visits to avoid future confrontations.

      I can’t go shopping with her at all. Because my family is large, and I buy in bulk. It’s happened three times where I’ve bought a 25# bag of rice and she’s made comments that I’m feeding the kids too much. Uh… There are seven people in my household, six of which are adult-sized. Four cups of uncooked rice makes 8 cups of cooked rice, which allows one cup of rice per person, with a little extra. One cup of rice is less than 220 calories, and is a perfectly reasonable proportion when served with a balanced meal. Even eating rice once a week, 25# doesn’t last long.

      I’ve shut her down hard, and don’t let her comment on what the kids are eating. She can keep her unhealthy relationship with food all to herself.

      Anyway, I didn’t mean to digress so hard – but I don’t let my sister talk to my kids like that: I certainly wouldn’t allow a nanny to do so. I would have a conversation with her as soon as possible, and then address any slips in the moment.

      1. Ace in the Hole*

        That rice example boggles my mind… there are only three of us in my house, two are petite women who don’t eat much, and we buy 25 lb bags of rice. We (like many people) eat rice almost every day, sometimes twice a day – it’s literally a staple crop. Even a modest serving each day means you go through a bag of rice pretty quick.

        But most importantly… rice doesn’t go bad! We also buy large sacks of dry beans, chickpeas, flour, coffee, etc because it’s cheaper in bulk and we’ll use it sooner or later. So the size sack you buy literally has no connection to your rate of consumption! People like your sister drive me up the wall.

        1. Bagpuss*

          Exactly! rice is shelf stable. It makes great financial sense to buy in bulk if you are able to and have suitable storage space.
          I mean, I *buy* 20KG of kibble for my cats at a time – I *feed* them about 50g each a day… I don’t buy kibble very often!

          1. Campfire Raccoon*

            Thank you, both. It’s such a stupid, little thing that I know is ridiculous. But when she makes these comments I have that moment like, “Is my math wrong?”

            She is not allowed to mess up my kids. That’s my job.

          2. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

            Another bulk buyer here! I’m in the UK and not a driver, and so usually shop with an online supermarket for the ‘heavy’ stuff like rice, pasta, lentils, cat food etc. Then pick up fresh stuff from greengrocer, butcher as I need it. Bulk buying rules!

        2. meyer lemon*

          This example goes to show that the food policing really isn’t about reason, science or health, at all. It’s purely about emotion. Some people who are heavily into diet/weight-loss culture tend to project all of their negative food and body feelings onto everyone around them. It’s not healthy for anyone involved.

          1. Allypopx*

            Yep. If you go into a house with a big family that has a lot of food, that’s normal. Or a small family with a bunch of shelf stable food, also normal. Or any family with any amount of food because it’s none of your business. “This seems like a lot to my personal context/sense of self control/eating habits” is not relevant to anyone but yourself.

          2. Ace in the Hole*

            I would amend that to “Some people tend to project…”

            Plenty of people who aren’t into dieting or weight loss do it too. I’ve gotten ridiculous comments from people because I don’t eat meat, because they think I’m “skinny” (this has nothing to do with my actual weight or health, both of which are totally fine), because of perceived elitism/political/cultural values based on the produce I buy…. etc. People get very emotionally invested about food and food-related matters. Only some of that is connected to dieting.

            1. tungsten*

              Only some of it is connected to active dieting behaviors, but all of it is connected to diet culture and broadly, to the moral value we attach to food. Judging skinny people for eating “good” foods is just the other side of the coin of judging fat people for eating “bad” foods; they are both manifestations of this sociocultural idea that what, how and how much we eat is a reflection of our character, and this belief is really ingrained for most people and therefore affects all of us to some degree.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I’d have to ask her how many rolls of toilet paper I should buy. People who have smaller households lose their sense of usage rates.

        I remember shopping with my friend. He had a family of 4, I live alone. We got to the checkout and he looked at my cart and started laughing out loud. “ONE roll of toilet paper???” I pointed out that it’s a big roll and usually lasts about a week and a half. BTW. I live alone.
        He filled the trunk of his car and he only went in to get a few things.
        The more people you have in your household, the more stuff you burn through.
        (It was a one time reaction and did not happen again.)

        1. On a pale mouse*

          I work in a grocery store. Early in the pandemic, when we ran out of a lot of stuff, I had a customer come through with two full carts. She felt compelled to tell me that she had nine people in her household and this was a week’s worth of food. Apparently other customers had been giving her the stink-eye, thinking she was hoarding food. (She didn’t actually have to tell me because I see orders that large all the time. And hoarders were mostly buying up rice, beans, canned food, and the like, where this customer had a more typical mix of stuff, just more of it.) So yeah, a lot of folks have no idea what it’s like to shop for a large family. And need to mind their own beeswax in any event, instead of trying to shame other people for their choices.

      3. Just Another Zebra*

        I have a 2 1/2 year old who is doing the typical growth-spurt thing. There are days when she will absolutely demolish adult-sized portions of food for 2-3 days, sometimes needing seconds (or thirds). She’s petite, but my husband’s aunt likes to comment that we overfeed her. She doesn’t see the days where she’ll eat half a bite and be full. Food language can be so damaging to kids. This nanny’s obsession would put me on edge.

    2. Louise*

      100000% This type of constant food talk/anxiety can really mess kids up. Spending so much time thinking about food that it interferes with your life is by definition a disordered eating pattern. This will absolutely rub off on the kids.

      Sincerely, someone who’s spend 10 years managing an eating disorder

      1. Jenny*

        We had this horrible aunt who would comment on our weight and food all the time. My sister developed an eating disorder and I am sure this aunt’s stupid comments didn’t help. When my uncle said they were getting divorced I cheered to myself.

        1. Campfire Raccoon*

          My mother used to make me diet with her. The generous parts of me imagines it was for moral support, because at the time I was a shapeless stick. I can’t imagine making my kids do the “Cabbage Diet” at 14 – and I will NOT be spreading food issues on to another generation.

          I know the OP’s kiddo is a baby, so there’s time – but if nanny can’t stop the behavior, it is time to look for a new nanny.

  17. CR*

    Geez…when I worked as a nanny one of the perks was getting to eat the food in my employer’s house! I would have loved a treat drawer, haha.

    1. Generic Name*

      Right? The family I babysat for the most was really into organic/natural food (this was in the 90s) and they’re snacks were boring as hell. I was a hungry teenager and all I could find to eat were stone ground crackers. (Of course I never complained about it)

  18. Dandy it is*

    Depending on how she is losing weight, she could be taking a picture (scanning) the bar code to determine points or snapping the nutrition label to figure it out later. She also could be binge eating and taking pictures so she can replace food.
    Ideally the conversation would take place.

  19. Allypopx*

    As someone who has gained a not-insignificant amount of pandemic weight this upsets me a lot. My activity level has gone way down now that I’m not climbing steep Boston hills to work every day and yeah, sometimes the food you have the mental energy for is not the healthiest. I know this is temporary and I’m not super worried about my long term health over it – but god if someone came into my home and started nit picking everything in my fridge I’d lose my mind. In normal times that’s invasive and awful but *right now* – good on you for feeding your child every night. You’re impacted by the pandemic enough that you have to bring on an expensive caretaker, I’m sure your mental and physical health have been in better places, you do not need this kind of energy in your private space on top of it.

    Have the conversation and be willing to let her go, please. A lot of commenters have mentioned having this kind of toxicity around your child, but you don’t need it around yourself either.

  20. Amethystmoon*

    I have had to put up with junk like that most of my life from others. It’s incredibly triggering. People need to resist the impulse to do that. You never know if someone is recovering from an ED or whatever.

  21. ElleKay*

    “If I were in an office, I’d know what to do but I’m honestly at a loss here.”

    I think you’re over-thinking a bit; you should address this essentially in the same way as you would in an office:
    Take her aside, so there are no distractions and she’s focused on the conversation; name the issue; say that it needs to stop.

    Alison’s script is great but, as an ex-nanny, she is your staff and you can manager her in mostly the same way as you would any other employee. Yes, it’s strange because boundaries do get crossed but you need to be able to have a professional conversation too. What if you needed to change her schedule or adjust the number of hours worked? You’d probably be able to have that conversation in a professional way; this is the same.

    Citation: one Monday the Mom I nannied for pulled me aside for a professional conversation about how they wanted to claim my work on their taxes, the implications, and what it would mean for my relative pay-rate. Was it awkward? Yes. But it was also important and then I went back to taking care of the baby.

    1. Allypopx*

      Yes – and even in an office these conversations can be awkward! Doesn’t mean they’re any less important.

    2. Jerry Larry Terry Garry*

      Exactly- this is a conversation, not just a comment. Don’t be upset or in the middle of something, paint it as a big picture shift she needs to make while in your home, provide a few examples, and ask if there are a few snacks or drinks she’d like provided, or fridge space set aside for her.
      I’ve had family members go through a big weight loss and it was absolutely the topic for months. And a lot of judgement (some expressed) towards others occurred, and only died down after a year or two. Your nanny doesn’t need to bring this new hobby into work.

  22. Anon Recruiter*

    This is such a tough situation! Food comes bundled with all sorts of judgments and emotions that make it hard to have a neutral conversation about. I believe OP when they say this person’s comments about food are super negative and toxic.

    That said – because food and weight are so emotional, the nanny may be externalizing some of her own negative self-talk about food. It’s not okay, but it might help to work toward solutions if you approach the problem with that framing. If the nanny has experiencing disordered eating in the past related to some of these “junk” foods, she may find it genuinely difficult to see others eating them or to see them in the snack drawer, and may have a lot of negative feelings if she has broken her diet “rules” by indulging in her employer’s snacks. It is often easier (but very toxic and not okay!!) to voice sentiments like “Ugh, there’s too much junk food in this house!” than it is to say, “*I* have a lot of trouble resisting the temptation to snack on this stuff, it really ruins my day when I ‘cheat’ on my diet, and it would be easier for me if I could just completely avoid those foods.”

    That said – obviously OP and their family should be allowed to eat whatever they want!! But there may be a happy medium that would involve separating the “healthy” snacks from the “junk” snacks so that the nanny can easily access a snack drawer full of foods that fit her diet, while OP can still go get Doritos from the pantry or whatever.

    The above would have to go hand-in-hand with a blanket rule along the lines of “My food decisions are mine alone. No one ever comments on anything that another person is eating.” I think that’s better than dropping hints about “It’s not healthy for me to talk about food this much,” because what you really want is for her to never mention it again! It’s easier to follow a clear rule than it is to expect her to guess about how much of her diet talk is okay and how much is “too much.” You can talk about making sure the baby is fed on schedule and that there is stuff in the house to meet the nanny’s needs for lunch/snacks, but beyond that, no food talk!

    1. Bagpuss*

      I think that’s a very thoughtful approach, and OPs conversation with her Nanny could include asking her if it would help her if they move the snacks somewhere different, if she finds it hard to have them so easily accessible.

    2. Ari*

      I like this approach a lot. Obviously, the nanny’s comments need to stop because they’re hurting the OP.

      But, my impression of the rest of the letter is that maybe the OP and the nanny have competing needs around food intake and availability that are just incompatible. And that’s ok! Not everyone is gonna need or want the same thing out of their respective diets. It’s the comments that are the problem, not the foods themselves.

      OP, until you have a direct, if probably a little awkward, conversation with the nanny, you don’t actually know what she’s thinking, feeling, or doing. There may be a perfectly reasonable explanation for the photo, as others have suggested above. Or, maybe she really was just being an ass. But right now, you’re inferring one possible motive as fact when it’s not clear that’s actually the case.

      So, go to her and ask about the photo. And clearly state your boundaries around all the food talk. Let her reaction guide your next steps. If she’s receptive to the criticism, there may be room for some discussion about a junk food compromise. If, however, she doubles down or makes other excuses, then you just state clearly that all food talk from here on out is off limits.

      It’s probably going to feel really hard to be firm in stating your boundaries the first few times you do it. But, it will get easier. Remember, you are the employer here. You have the power to manage this situation, all the way up to terminating her employment if need be. Be kind, but direct and see how it goes.

    3. Just Another Zebra*

      I don’t know that I’d be OK giving an employee this much power in my home, though. The nanny (as far as I can tell) doesn’t actually live there. I would never expect my boss to rearrange the office kitchen for my preferences.

      1. Self Employed*

        If an employee has an eating disorder and merely rearranging how snacks were stored in the office kitchen would help keep them focused on their job (instead of perseverating on the snack temptation), it would be a reasonable accommodation. Yes, small employers can be exempt from the ADA, but we’re not talking about installing an elevator in a 2-story house. We’re talking about maybe needing a basket to store nanny-snacks and household-snacks separately.

  23. Anon for medical things*

    I want add another perspective to this. Obsession with food and weight can be harmful for a kid to be around if it’s coming from a main caregiver. Both of my parents had serious issues around body image when I was growing up, and it permanently affected me in a bad way. I heard all the messages about how an attractive body is linked to value as a person, even before it was directed at me. As a 5 year old, I hated seeing pictures of myself because I felt fat. I remember a specific picture from my 5th birthday party where my leg was pressed against a chair so the relaxed muscle sort of spread out sideways and I was so embarrassed by how fat I looked. I constantly felt conflicted between feeling hungry and feeling fat. I could feel my parents judging me when I ate a treat. As soon as I was old enough to have some privacy, I would deprive myself all day and then sneak food into my room to binge at night. I bought and used diet pills as young as 14. I’ve never been officially diagnosed with an eating disorder, but I have started to address some of these things as part of therapy for other reasons. I doubt I will ever a truly healthy relationship with food and my body.

    Anyway, your kid is still a baby so probably not old enough to be affected. But as soon as the pandemic is under control, please consider getting rid of this nanny and finding an alternative, even if that means daycare. It’s clear that you care most about your baby’s health. And it’s not healthy to have their food frequently judged by a caregiver.

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      That’s my concern. Toddlers will start to internalize this stuff, so by the age of 2 at latest, I hope OP finds different child care.

      And to be clear – our society and culture is seriously messed up with its attitudes towards food and weight. It’s a wonder that anyone has even a remotely healthy attitude towards their body or food.

    2. An anonymous fatty*

      Yup, same. My first food journal was in first grade. I was proud of myself when I could go all day without eating in elementary school. I was fat anyway, and when I was in 8th grade my doctor told me I should lose weight so boys would like me. Unfortunately I had just gotten the internet and within six months had met a grown man online who I thought was my boyfriend, because I thought I had proven my caregiver and doctor “wrong” and “gotten a boyfriend” even though I was fat. I skipped school one day traveled two hours each way and he raped me in a park, then stalked me. I didn’t tell anyone until the stalking because I still thought I was doing the right thing by getting a boyfriend.

      This behavior has consequences.

  24. OP HERE*

    So, folks have asked – the reason I assumed she was taking the photo to show someone is she’s already mentioned the drawer a few times as well as what is in it and how bad it all is. She also told me she’d spoken to some friends already about how many treats and temptations we have in our house/how she can’t believe how much candy we have, etc. I 100% don’t know if that’s what she was doing, but the fixation on the drawer (multiple comments) + she’s mentioned she talked to friends about it, it seemed like that would be the reason she took a photo. I also have used calorie apps and you need to be much closer to an item to scan it for the content. Also, she doesn’t ever eat these foods so I doubt the nutritional content is of much consequence to her. That said, I don’t actually know and agree with previous commenters that a curious, non-defensive approach is best.

    1. CR*

      I’m even more convinced you should fire her. It’s nice that you want to give her the benefit of the doubt but she’s being clearly inappropriate and rude.

    2. Allypopx*

      “She also told me she’d spoken to some friends already about how many treats and temptations we have in our house/how she can’t believe how much candy we have, etc.”

      Whoa that’s a huge boundary violation. Please set clear, hard lines around this, this is not okay.

      1. CatCat*

        Yikes, yeah, she shouldn’t be gossiping about your home and family. Pretty ballsy that she’s upfront about this behavior!

        1. JSPA*

          If she doesn’t gossip about them by name (or share their identity at all) it’s much less of a problem. “You wouldn’t believe this couple I know” ≠ “The Cleavers at 221 Pine St eat the following junk food.”

          But photos are thoroughly invasive, regardless. Additionally, there’s too much chance for something to be identifying, or to render you a target, depending what she catches in the background.

      2. Littorally*

        Agreed. She is already not a good nanny. I appreciate that getting rid of her right now would be a hardship, but she has shown she cannot be trusted to be in your home, and cannot be trusted with your kid’s welfare. Please, please replace her.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        I understand that there is no formal confidentiality agreement between the two of you. But it is really Not Cool to be discussing a client’s/customer’s setting with other people. It’s unprofessional.

        So she has admitted to you that she gossips about you behind your back. I am even less impressed now.

    3. qtippyqueen*

      Wow. I can’t imagine 1. caring about someone’s snack drawer or amounts of candy they have 2. telling that person about how bad it is, 3. telling my friends (?!) about how bad a stranger’s snack drawer is, then 4. telling my BOSS that I talk badly about their snack drawer to my friends!!

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        I’m trying to imagine a scenario where a member of staff comes up to me, tells me I’m eating too much junk food and what’s more their friends agree, and still expect to not be buried under the LAN room floor after.

      2. meyer lemon*

        It sounds like this person is seriously struggling with a negative relationship to food, and I hope that gets better for her, but she really cannot make it her employer’s problem like this. If a friend or family member talked to me like this, they would not be invited over anymore.

    4. Keymaster of Gozer*

      She’s not just crossing your boundaries, she’s trampling over them with a herd of elephants. The fact she admits to discussing your food choices with her friends is…disturbing actually.

    5. Ace in the Hole*

      Okay – this changes things. I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt based on your initial story, but she’s gossiping with her friends about your snack drawer AND THEN TELLING YOU ABOUT IT?! That is so far over the line I don’t know where to start.

      At this point it seems the photo is almost beside the point… If she doesn’t sincerely apologize and completely knock it off after you tell her to stop once, I don’t think this is someone you want setting an example for your kid.

    6. Observer*

      OP, you really, really, REALLY need to consider firing her.

      Even without the picture, you have a serious problem here.

      As a parent who has had to deal with the issue of leaving my child in someone else’s care, let me ask you this: How do you leave your child with someone who is open about criticizing you REPEATEDLY to others? How do you leave your child (who will begin to understand what she’s hearing in very short order) to the care of someone who repeatedly criticizes you and who has such an incredibly unhealthy attitude towards food? Have you thought about how her attitude and fixation is likely to affect how she feeds your child? Do you really think that her attitude is going to lead to her making healthy choices for your child?

      You need to deal with this NOW. If necessary, start looking for a new person and then let your current Nanny go. Don’t give her notice, but DO pay her severance. I know that it’s money that is hard to come by, but that’s really your best bet here.

      The bottom line is that what is happening is unacceptable, and needs to stop. Period. If talking to her works, good. If not, you need to move on.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I agree.
        Call it her preoccupation or whatever, but her primary focus at your house, OP, is your kiddo. Or that’s where her focus should be.
        Think back, OP. How much conversation is about food vs. how much conversation is about the care of your child? It sounds like she talks about food more than the kiddo.

    7. Librarian of SHIELD*

      Ooooh. This is VERY not good. Can you ever imagine a situation where you say to your own boss “The food you eat is so horrific I’ve told all my friends about it”? Because this is not a thing you say to your boss, no matter what the job is. She needs a serious “these are the terms of your employment” conversation that makes it very clear that refusal to change her behavior means she can’t have this job anymore.

    8. high school teacher*

      “She also told me she’d spoken to some friends already about how many treats and temptations we have in our house/how she can’t believe how much candy we have, etc.”

      Alright…that is obnoxious. I have a pretty healthy/laid back attitude with food but that kind of comment would annoy me.

      1. Elsie*

        This would also be obnoxious even among friends or family. If, for example, my MIL or a friend did this at my house I’d be like “WTH that is none of your business.” And those are people who are essentially peers, not an employee to an employer, so it showcases further the nanny’s audacity and boundary-crossing.

    9. The problem with people*

      No, a curious approach will only encourage her. It is time to stop beating around the bush, just because you need a nanny does not mean she will easily get another job (especially without a recent reference). So sit her down and say ‘we never got to discuss employment rules but some issues have cropped up that are completely unacceptable in an employment setting’. Then describe her obsession with food, her violating privacy rules of employment by gossiping with friends and taking photos of private drawers ‘she does not use’. If you don’t have one you need to urgently set up video recordings. Ask her if she can manage that or if she wants to find employment elsewhere. Unless she only has 2 brain cells she will realise no matter where she goes she will be fired for her behaviour.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yep. I’m very much on team “fire her” but if you want to keep her on, OP, you have to sit her down and have a VERY frank, firm conversation about these serious boundary issues. The out-loud food obsession, the constant narrative of orthorexia, the judgmental gossip, the photos, all need to stop *immediately* and not recur, or she will need to find new employment.

        1. The problem with people*

          The OP doesn’t want to fire her so only a firm, no movement discussion will do. The fact of the matter is if we account for different settings at some point everyone has to do it. I had to do it with my family but I gave them a choice: behave or leave but don’t change your mind later. I’ve also had to do it in the workplace to put bullies in their place.

          1. Self Employed*

            OP doesn’t want to fire her but needs to be setting up a Plan B in case the nanny either won’t honor those very reasonable boundaries or gets in a huff and quits. After all, if there’s a nanny shortage, she might figure it’ll be easy enough to find a new job.

            This is just so inappropriate–it’s not an “house of evil bees” but it’s “nanny surrounded by swarm of evil bees”. OP, you don’t need evil bees buzzing diet culture into your baby’s ears and she might very well be good when she knows you’re in earshot but making judgy comments when you’re not.

    10. Just Another Zebra*

      OP, as someone who does employ a nanny, this is all wildly outside of the realm of OK. I absolutely understand that childcare is hard to come by, but BAD childcare is not the answer. I’d be deeply concerned about your nanny sharing personal info with others. Not to be THAT person, but I’d be absolutely terrified that she’d show people pictures of my child. You know her, but you can’t know her whole circle. It’s such a transgression of normal business relationships. I’d give it one very firm talk, but be prepared to fire her. And depending on her answers, that talk may end in termination.

    11. Parenthetically*

      “she’s already mentioned the drawer a few times as well as what is in it and how bad it all is. She also told me she’d spoken to some friends already about how many treats and temptations we have in our house/how she can’t believe how much candy we have, etc.”

      Okay, wow. The eye-popping eating-disorderiness of that language aside, how freaking rude is this girl?? Yikes. There has to be a nanny somewhere who isn’t going to try to food-shame every dang bite that goes in your mouth.

    12. Rusty Shackelford*

      She also told me she’d spoken to some friends already about how many treats and temptations we have in our house/how she can’t believe how much candy we have, etc.

      What the f-ing F.

      I know there’s a non-judgemental way to say this. I know she could have said “This new family I’m nannying for, the mom is such a great cook, and their house is always full of tasty snacks, I don’t know I’m going to avoid that temptation.” But… I’m pretty sure she didn’t say it that way.

    13. Sheldon Cooper Doesn't Represent Me*

      ” a curious, non-defensive approach is best.”

      Yes, absolutely. Curiosity does not mean you approve, it does not mean you are going to let things continue, it means you are curious. You have to have a hard conversation about boundaries and discretion, and you are much more likely to get a better outcome from the conversation by approaching with curiosity than if you go in defensively.

      The thing about the hybrid home-workplace is that if you want her to be an employee and treat her like any other employee at any other job, then you have to understand that your home is her workplace, and she will treat it like any other work place. In some work places, that means taking pictures of the interior is ok. In all work places, discussions surrounding work conditions are legally protected.

      Let us know how she responds to her annual review.

  25. Reality Check*

    This nanny reminds me of a reformed smoker. They quit, successfully, and run around driving other smokers nuts with it – “If I can do it, so can you! (lecture, preach, lecture)”

    I wonder if it’s like that with her weight loss, that’s what’s driving this. As for the picture I would ask straight out.

    1. ThatGirl*

      People tend to get evangelical about big life changes – whether it’s quitting smoking, starting a diet, a new workout, etc. Ask any CrossFit person. So I’m willing to bet it’s coming from a place of part that, part insecurity — but it’s still inappropriate!

      1. nonegiven*

        My husband has always said, “There is nothing worse than a reformed drug addict.” (for proselytizing)

    2. James*

      Reminds me of an aunt who started going to Alcoholics Anonymous due to her husband’s drinking problem. When I go to visit there’s a fair amount of drinking involved–partially cultural, partially family, partially because it’s my week off for the year. And when my aunt comes over she counts every drink we have and comments on it. Posts non-stop about how evil alcohol is on Facebook. If you say it’s not normal, that vacations are special circumstances, that’s denial (same with if you say you’re not an alcoholic; any refusal to buy into her world view is evidence of a problem).

      From family it’s annoying. From an employee it’s not tolerable.

      1. Self Employed*

        When I was young, I wasn’t very interested in alcohol, so when I joined a church that required total abstinence it wasn’t a big deal. Before I quit that church, someone from one of my social groups kept insisting that I was an alcoholic. I told him I was a tee-totaller. He insisted that being an alcoholic wasn’t about the alcohol, it was about the “stinkin thinkin” and I was “just a dry drunk.” Of course he wanted me to go to AA and of course I didn’t want anything to do with it. End of friendship.

    3. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      Some weight loss programs encourage taking pictures… of your OWN drawer. Not your neighbor’s, not your employer’s.

  26. Still*

    In Alison’s scripts, I’d swap “criticising” for “commenting on”. She might not think she’s being particularly critical and might genuinely believe she’s being helpful. It doesn’t matter and you don’t want to get drawn into a discussion about the nature of her comments. Commenting on the food should be off limits.

    But I’m inclined to agree with the other commenters that somebody with such a strong attitude towards food might end up passing it on to your kid whether you want to or not. You know your situation best and it might be a compromise you’re willing to make but it’s worth considering.

  27. OP HERE*

    One other thing for context, I do think she was maybe thinking she was being supportive. When she first came on-board, I mentioned that I was looking forward to exercising a bit more and being freed up to cook so I could lose some of the baby weight and feel more myself. I didn’t add that in my original question, but I probably gave her the impression that I am much more interested in weight loss than I am. I can see how she might feel like she can help push me in the right direction after her experience, but my interest in weight loss is just wildly less intense than hers. I would like to look more like my pre-baby self to fit into clothes, etc, but it’s not the end of the world if I never do. It’s a pandemic, we have a new baby, we’re all very stretched, and I am too tired for this to be a priority.

    1. Allypopx*

      So she took a subtle comment as an invitation to be your personal food guru but didn’t take your polite but much less casual comments asking her to stop as an indication to stop? That’s some selective hearing. To be clear – this doesn’t mean you gave her permission to comment on your food and it doesn’t mean her ignoring your requests to stop is okay.

      “I’ve been telling my friends how much candy you have!” is also not helpful or supportive in any way.

      1. qtippyqueen*

        Agree. There was just a letter about a nanny/employer relationship and the comments pointed out that to be a successful nanny you have to be able to read social cues better than the average person. She is missing these cues, or ignoring them. Priorities change and this has been communicated, and she is not hearing it.

      2. pope suburban*

        Yeah, this is “yikes” material in several ways. I am part of a martial-arts studio, and occasionally new people will talk to me about feeling apprehensive about the curriculum, or wanting to know how to achieve their goals. I respond to that not with criticism, but by expressing confidence in their capability, offering to work with them on anything, or referring them to the appropriate person at the studio (a trainer in X, a nutritionist certified in Y). I don’t nitpick them or talk about them with others or expect any kind of input on their food. This is so far from what I could imagine as supportive behavior, especially from someone (who, like me) is not actually qualified in any way to coach someone on their diet or habits. I’ve been asked for support, and man, this ain’t it. I couldn’t imagine taking it to such a negative place. I can’t really extend the benefit of the doubt to this person. I am sure she’s grappling with a lot of totally legit things in her own life, but it is incumbent upon her as an adult and as an employee to deal with them, rather than just placing this burden on the people around her.

        1. pope suburban*

          Also I want to underscore that people *asked* for this feedback. I’d never offer it spontaneously, or on the basis of an offhand comment. I just can’t grok what could be genuinely nice or helpful about this person’s actions. This was not only not requested, it was requested that she knock it off- and she didn’t, and she doubled down!

    2. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Regardless of whatever impression you may have given her, the facts remain you’ve asked her to stop doing this and she hasn’t.

    3. Brett*

      Some other language you might use, “I have set my own weight loss and exercise plan tailored to me and my goals. I do not need additional help or support with it.” As someone currently going through a significant weight loss, I do feel like sharing my strategy with anyone who might benefit from it, and someone telling me that they have their own plan would set a boundary for me on that.

    4. Librarian of SHIELD*

      Do not blame yourself for making those comments when you first hired her. You saying what you said doesn’t justify the way she’s behaving. She may, in fact, think she’s being helpful. But that doesn’t mean you have to keep letting her do it.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I hope you don’t get yourself tongue-tied because you think you brought this on, OP.

        This is not what you asked her about. And most certainly has nothing to do with taking pictures of what is in the drawers. She’s gone too far away from light conversation.

    5. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      There is a very good possibility that the reasons she needed to lose weight had to do with a toxic fixation with food, and while she has found a way to lose weight, she has not addressed the underlying toxic fixation with food. So, she thinks about it all the time, talks about it all the time, has an obsessive relationship with her diet (healthier physically than before, but not psychologically), and is now pushing that obsession onto you. These are indications that she may have a serious eating disorder that is now manifesting as orthorexia. I think Allison’s advice is good, but you might also tell her that while you champion her weight loss efforts, you are concerned about her overall fixation on food that she is not even eating and want her to consider talking to her doctor a bit about it. But that depends on your relationship and how you think she would react. If you think she would take great offense, do not go there, but do be aware that the possibility of an eating disorder is behind her behavior.

      1. Observer*

        but you might also tell her that while you champion her weight loss efforts, you are concerned about her overall fixation on food that she is not even eating and want her to consider talking to her doctor a bit about it.

        Absolutely NOT. The lines have been blurred enough as it is!

        1. Uranus Wars*

          Yes! I agree the fixation probably hasn’t been remedied but it is squarely NOT in any way the OPs business or place to suggest a way to fix it.

    6. JessicaTate*

      I’m not on “team fire”, because I think we’re all making tough choices — the nanny’s not ideal, but I’m critically asking: Is she better than the alternative (zero child care, bank-breaking child care, or you having to leave your job and damage your career/earning potential)…? In your shoes, I would 100% come down on the side of yes.

      You’ve noted that she’s really good with the baby, and that maybe she’s over-zealously being “helpful.” So, maybe another angle is adding to Alison’s script… “Also, our pediatrician recommended to make a concerted effort with Baby to really constrain how we talk about food around her. They say even really young children can start to pick up messages about food being good or bad in ways that can make them have unhealthy relationships with food. I know she’s still young, but we want to get in the habit now.”

      She’s obviously had her own weight struggles/journey, so maybe this would connect with her at some level. (And I will say, our pediatrician did give this advice to parents with baggage / issues with food and weight growing up. The kid had moved to solid food at that point, but still.)

      I feel like she’s externalizing the willpower / sacrifice struggles she feels — judging someone else to make herself feel better. (She shouldn’t, this is not good, but the underlying feelings are real. I have some sympathy.) I would really also emphasize Alison’s line about — “If we don’t have the right foods for you the house, please tell me!” Trying to emphasize that you care about her needs in the mix – but we’re not changing our choices. Good luck.

    7. JSPA*

      The problem isn’t that you mentioned weight loss, nor what you choose to eat (or to not eat, despite it being present…because you have the ability to be in a room with candy and treat it as one of many potential food options, not a yawning maw of temptation).

      The problem is hiring someone who adds 1 & 1 and gets not 2…not 3…not even 11…but 101. Assuming you’re doing direct reportage, she’s a) not operating within a reasonable order of magnitude and b) she’s making her problems into yours in a sly, mean, judgmental and passive-aggressive sort of way.

      I imagine if she told you it was hard for her to have candy quite so accessible, and asked for a simple solution (Would it be possible for you guys to hide the tootsie rolls somewhere, and not tell me where it is? They’re a big weak spot for me, to the point that it gets distracting,”) you’d find it a bit awkward, but you’d probably be sympathetic.

      She needs to learn that lecturing your employer on their personal life is not something that gets rewarded outside of bad sitcoms.

  28. Your Friend in ED Recovery*

    This has been said in previous comments but bears clear repeating: the assignment of positive/negative designation to food is a major determinant of disordered eating. The judgment your nanny passes on you is irritating at best and hurtful at worst; your child bearing witness to that judgment has the potential to result in considerably more damaging consequences. They’re already fighting an uphill battle against diet culture when they enter this world. Please take care!

  29. RosyGlasses*

    And also – food/weight issues start so early in life (starting with unconscious habits we pick up) – I would be anxious about that ideation occurring so frequently around my child when they start eating solid foods/toddlerhood/etc. Not to say the baby will pick up on that right now – but generally one tries to keep caregivers as long as possible when they are great with the kids and have formed that relationship – so it’s entirely possible the nanny would be working with the family as the child gets older.

    1. Self Employed*

      Yes, if they’re going to change nannies, better to do it while the baby is young enough they won’t remember.

  30. Observer*

    OP, please think VERY long and hard about what Alison said about not being so afraid to lose someone that you allow things to slide.

    You think that your Nanny is taking pictures of your home to SHARE SO THEY CAN MOCK YOU. If you are correct about that, you need to fire her. NOW. Because this is someone who is NOT trustworthy. This action ALONE crosses a line. But also, what ELSE is she going to share? Anyone who would do that is someone who will absolutely breach your privacy and that of your child! If you have to tell her that this is not OK, then you have all the proof you need that she cannot be trusted to make reasonable decisions in this respect.

    Now, it’s possible that you are wrong about what she was doing. But, clearly her behaviour is such that it’s already eroding the trust that you should be able to have in the person who takes care of your child. Thus, you REALLY need to put a stop to it. And if that doesn’t work, you are going to need to rethink your child care arrangements.

    Also, given her attitude about food, what kind of messages do you think she’s going to give to your child? And, if she’s this underhanded, what makes you think she is going to follow your directives and instructions when it comes to feeding the kid?

    I get it. It’s scary. And it’s hard to find someone. But you cannot look the other way when someone you need to trust is acting in such a problematic way.

  31. Amorette Allison*

    I worked as a nanny/housekeeper for years and NO WAY would I ever have done some of this stuff. I did contribute to the grocery list because I did many of the meals but it would never occur to me to criticize the meal content. And the food obsession thing — while I understand she has a distorted relationship with food — strikes me as trouble. What is she going to do when it comes to feeding your child? Give the baby a distorted relationship with food? You need to sit her down and set some serious boundaries because she is way too invested in your life. (BTW, I still keep in touch with the kids I nannied. Some relationships last but some are just not meant to be.)

  32. Jean*

    OP, I get that you feel a bit desperate to keep this person in your employ, but presumably she wants to keep her job too. It sounds to me like she is just lacking perspective on the food issue and doesn’t get that her behavior is over the line. Don’t just keep tolerating this because she might quit. She might quit any time for any reason, so that can’t be a reason to not address this behavior. I can tell you if my employee were taking photographs of anything in my home, we would be having a serious conversation right then and there. Violating privacy is not a good look for a domestic employee, and if she values your reference she needs to S T O P.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I think about all the people I have had here repairing this, servicing that and NO ONE has ever taken a pic. Oddly, some of the stuff that came up taking a picture of the broken item before heading to the store would have actually made sense. But there was no need for a pic, because the person was familiar enough with the item.

  33. Ms.Vader*

    Children as young as 4 years old can star showing signs of disordered eating. It’s crucial her obvious food issues are not being passed down to your child. That’s paramount. Her behaviour shows she isn’t as great as you want her to be and you need to address it. I’m so sorry for how she’s made you feel but don’t let an uncomfortable conversation prevent you from creating normal boundaries.

  34. totally anon*

    Finding a great nanny is so hard, and it’s so different from managing someone in a corporate setting! My kids are still upset at me for firing our compulsive lying nanny, who repeatedly did not show up to work with any notice. They loved her and were very attached. I would say if your baby is not super attached to the nanny yet (not sure of the age) start looking elsewhere. The thing is–this food shaming is a sign of a serious personality issue. She’s not responding to your very clear feedback that you don’t like her behavior and she’s honestly kind of flagrant in her lack of respect. If you have a 2 year old who sees her as part of the family, it’s a lot harder to let her go…but if you have a 6 month old, definitely consider a new nanny!

    1. Allypopx*

      Pandemic baby, so I’m guessing less than a year. But the point you make is still important because the longer it gets put off the more attached the child will likely get.

  35. Hiring Mgr*

    It sounds like except for the food comments the OP is very happy with the nanny “we’ve found someone who is overall fantastic. Our baby does amazing with her, she’s knowledgeable, experienced, helpful, and taking the kinds of precautions we need and expect.”

    Not sure why people would jump to termination, particularly if it’s harder these days to find a nanny in the first place.

    1. Allypopx*

      I think a lot of people have outlined very good reasons that they’re jumping to termination, not least of which being the well-being of the child.

    2. Anon Lawyer*

      Because not being able to trust someone constantly in your home and watching your kid to maintain boundaries is actually a huge problem. I think given the circumstances today, firing might not be possible, but normally I think that’s something that will make you crazy with a nanny even if you could deal with it in an office setting.

    3. Observer*

      Because, as is so often the case, that “little” issue is NOT little AT ALL.

      Not sure why people would jump to termination, particularly if it’s harder these days to find a nanny in the first place.

      1. She is ignoring a repeated request that her boss is making

      2. She is acting in a way that has the potential to seriously harm the child. No, that is NOT hyperbole – her food obsession, constant comments about food, and criticism of the parents have great potential to hurt any child over 6 months or so.

      3. She is totally invading the OP’s privacy – if you look at the later comments, the OP notes that she thinks the Nanny shared the picture because she has ALREADY discussed this with others, in a negative fashion!

      Would you say the same thing if the OP found out that the Nanny was stealing? Or taking pictures of everyone’s social security card, passport, etc and selling that information?

      1. Hiring Mgr*

        “Would you say the same thing if the OP found out that the Nanny was stealing? Or taking pictures of everyone’s social security card, passport, etc and selling that information?”

        No, but taking photos of snacks in a drawer doesn’t seem to rise to that level.. Anyway, not saying these are great attributes of a nanny, just that OP herself didn’t mention anything about it being that drastic.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Nanny does not have to run things out to the max in order for dismissal to occur. Someone inside my house, taking pictures of MY things and sharing those pics with people- adding I don’t even know these people- is a huge violation of privacy.

          For the privilege of working in someone’s home, there comes a responsibility of recognizing their privacy.

          Did she turn off GPS coordinates before she took the pic? jeepers.

        2. Observer*

          No, but taking photos of snacks in a drawer doesn’t seem to rise to that level.

          By itself? Sur. But you are taking that ONE thing out of context. She is not just taking these pictures – she is sharing them! *AND* she is also doing things that are seriously problematic.

          The three items I mentioned are MUCH more than “just taking a weird picture.”

          1. Hiring Mgr*

            Fair points (though it’s only speculation she shared the photos) My main thing is that given how favorably the OP describes the nanny overall, it sounds like she wants to make it work.

    4. Cat Tree*

      Food and body image issues can follow that kid for a lifetime. This is a very serious problem, not an uncomfortable annoyance.

    5. Roci*

      I somewhat agree. I think in a normal world, yes this nanny is clearly problematic and not working out, and needs a tough conversation or perhaps termination. However it is incredibly difficult to find someone to watch your kids right now! If she is otherwise great, and having the nanny is the keystone to your family’s emotional and financial stability right now, then I don’t blame OP for keeping her until they can find a better option. This is one of the many “lesser of two evils” choices we are all having to make right now.

  36. Betsy S*

    I agree that this sounds like a relationship that won’t work longterm – but please be gentle to OP. Finding good reliable care for an infant is very very challenging! And in my experience , there’s never a 100% match between parents and caregivers. There’s always going to be something. Having someone who is trustworthy in all the big things is huge. I agree this isn’t a tiny thing, but there are just so many worse ways that a caregiver relationship could go wrong.

    Food issues are so pervasive in the US in particular that it is very , VERY, hard to root out. And no matter what parents do, children will be immersed in these ideas if they go to school or watch television. So it’s important to have a lot of direct communication about them with your children.

    A daycare won’t necessarily be a better solution. We used a larger daycare which meant that there were many different caregivers with many different issues. And I let almost all of the issues slide because my child was safe and cared for and having fun and learning, but we had a lot of discussions at home. (about food choices, the Easter Bunny, racism, and even politics and patriotism, as my kid was in Pre-K on 9/11/2001 and the school decided to make the pre-K graduation into a display of patriotism) (don’t start me)

    Anyway I agree it’s time for a good conversation, and as your child transitions to solid food you’ll want to have a few more conversations , about things like whether your child is pressured to eat, to clean their plate, to eat some foods before others, whether food is labelled ‘good’ and ‘bad’, etc. And as others noted, about photographs and social media. But with a kind and trustworthy person, these should be things you can work out.

    1. Observer*

      I agree this isn’t a tiny thing, but there are just so many worse ways that a caregiver relationship could go wrong.

      The thing is that this is NOT just “not a little thing”, this is a MAJOR issue. Yes, there are bigger issues, but that’s not the bar that needs to be met.

      The nanny’s current behavior IS presenting a very fundamental risk to the baby. I realize why the OP hasn’t looked at it that YET – but they DO need to change their viewpoint.

      Food issues are so pervasive in the US in particular that it is very , VERY, hard to root out. And no matter what parents do, children will be immersed in these ideas if they go to school or watch television.

      Which is all the more reason to NOT allow this from the child’s primary caregiver. This person is spending 40 hours a week with this kid. It’s a LOT. And one of the things she is doing is essentially tearing the parents down. It’s really pretty toxic, even for an infant.

      But with a kind and trustworthy person, these should be things you can work out.

      Well, that’s part of the problem. At this point, the nanny’s behavior is not “kind and trustworthy”. At all.

      1. Roci*

        Betsy makes a great point though that this is a culture issue, as in, what values do I want to pass onto my children?

        It’s a second-level issue. The first level is: does the nanny show up on time? Do they actually watch the kid the whole time, keep them safe and warm and fed? Are they affordable and available when I need them? And nowadays–are they taking the pandemic precautions necessary?

        Once you pass that level, you can start examining culture/value issues. If OP’s family needs a nanny to stay financially afloat, they may not have the luxury of being picky over those cultural issues. Is this nanny better than no one? Only OP can decide.

        1. Observer*

          No, this is not just a “culture” issue. It is an issue of the kid’s health and safety, both in the short(ish) term and in the long term.

          Even if Nanny is not sharing the pictures these issues go beyond values, although that’s not just a “luxury.” What the Nanny is doing has very high potential to harm the child. And in this case, you actually CANNOT count on the Nanny actually keeping the kid fed. Because she’s shown that she has such bad judgement around food that at this point it’s not clear that she’s going to feed the kid foods that considers “junk” or “bad”.

          1. Bridget the Elephant*

            Plus little kids need a different diet to adults, one that’s higher in certain fats for one thing. If this nanny can’t take that on board because she views fats as unhealthy in all circumstances, she may not be providing appropriate food for the baby once they’re on solids.

          2. Roci*

            But it’s a baby less than 1 year old… what kind of junk food is even an option at that age? There is no indication that the nanny would not feed the child at all. That is pretty scare-mongering.

            You say it’s an issue in the “short(ish) term and in the long term”. Precisely! Short-ish term. Not having a nanny at all, and being unable to find one due to the pandemic, is a very very immediate problem. OP has to choose between keeping a weirdo nanny and having none at all. If no nanny is not an option, well, they have 17 more years to correct the messaging about food, and the kid will be able to speak for most of those.

    2. Self Employed*

      I don’t think OP is being fanatical about protecting their child from any mention of diet culture; it’s that the nanny is so obsessed with it that their child is going to hear SO MUCH SO OFTEN. She can’t shut up about it with her bosses, and she’s probably going to talk about it a LOT to their child just because that’s what’s on her mind at the child’s mealtimes, snacktimes, if they’re growing out of clothes, etc.

    3. allathian*

      The food talk has to stop. Some kids as young as 4 are showing signs of disordered eating. I fully understand that most parents would want to protect their children from a caregiver who was into diet talk.

  37. irene adler*

    Just something I experienced-shouldn’t modify any points made previously.

    When I lost over 100 lbs, I became OBSESSED with food.
    During that time, I subscribed to many food magazines and would dwell a long time on the pics. I thought about food day and night. Yes, even dreamed about food and trying to find food. Awful.
    Food shopping was torture. I’d spend half an hour in the snack food aisle alone. And end up not buying anything (long story). But I sure liked looking at all the snacks.

    Nanny may not realize the extent that she is commenting on food in the house for similar reasons. Doesn’t change the fact that those comments need to be curtailed.

    1. Wombats and Tequila*

      When I had anorexia briefly as an adolescent, that was by far the worst part, thinking about food the Whole. Damn. Day.

      Oh, and what started my lifelong poor relationship with my body and food? Overhearing some offhand remark my mom said about seeing “four huge rolls of fat.” I decided she was talking about me.

      A child doesn’t have to hear something directly addressed to them in order to be affected by it.

      1. Blue*

        Yeah, I was thinking this – that it basically isn’t possible to lose 100lbs without some pretty extreme restrictive behaviour, however healthy and sensible you try to be, and that will have an effect on your mindset. Bluntly, even fairly moderate food restricting seriously affects your thinking. The nanny pretty much unavoidably isn’t exactly in her right mind about food at the moment. That’s not a judgement on her, it’s biology.
        When I was a kid, my parents worked abroad a lot and would often hire a childminder to come with us. One year, they hired a really sweet young girl who decided that starting a new job in a foreign country was the perfect time to embark on the Cambridge diet – 800 calories of meal replacement drinks a day. After a few weeks, my mum had to sit her down and say, “Look, it’s not my place to tell you what to eat, but if I’m going to leave you in charge of my children I need you to eat enough actual food that you’re well enough to care for them.” Because she wasn’t. She was starving, obsessive, weak, irritable and completely unfit to care for kids. Instead of taking us to the park, she’d take us to the supermarket where we’d browse the snack aisle for hours without buying anything. She did start eating, and once she’d got some nutrients into her system she was one of the best childminders I can remember, we’re still in touch.
        That sounds a bit more extreme than this situation, but strict food restriction seriously affects your cognition, mood and judgement. That’s relevant if you’re leaving your child in someone’s care!

  38. The problem with people*

    You might not be able to loser her but maybe she can’t afford to lose the job either? Sit her down and tell her you hired her because of her excellent standard of work. However, a job does not include personal views about weight and you are not paying her for that. Then state firmly ‘no more discussion about your obsession with food’ and stare at her in an assertive way. If she doesn’t like it she can arrange her food instead of taking advantage of yours. Also it might be a pain but tons of people are desperate for a job so I would start looking now. That way when you find someone you can boot her out.

    The irony is 95% of people who lose that kind of weight gain it back again (literature from research in science/medicine’. Soon she will be hiding her weight loss because she will be back to her original weight.

  39. The problem with people*

    I’ve just realised something. If she is so far gone she will take photos of your drawer what makes you think she won’t take photos of your baby and send them about? Like a photo with the baby and the food drawer saying ‘look at the disgusting filth they feed their baby’ and a photo of the 2 together. The photo is one step too far, I would fire her immediately.

    1. Allypopx*

      My mind is jumping to my friend’s kid who was a CHUNKER as a little baby. It’s a thing that runs in their family, they have cute fat babies. That girl is 7 now and fairly thin and athletic and has a healthy relationship with food (besides being age-normal levels of picky) but I bet this nanny would have had a lot of damaging things to say about her as a baby.

      1. The problem with people*

        Exactly. When I was young one minute I was so thin my bones jutted out. At other times I ate like it was going out of fashion. It took until the age of 29 to realise mania (Bipolar disorder) was causing it..

        Anyone who had an opinion on the issue was wrong.

      2. Just Another Zebra*

        My daughter is 2.5 – she’s currently at the point where she gets a little turtle belly, then shoots up 2 inches overnight. She’s also short, so her belly tends to be more pronounced. The thought of a nanny commenting on my kids eating/ diet/ physique is not something I’d just let slide.

        1. The problem with people*

          They would be out of the door before they could blink. The OP keeps stressing childcare but she needs to think about the implications of this person part raising her child

  40. MaryAnne Spier*

    I’d be nanny-shopping. You don’t get to repeatedly make me uncomfortable in my own kitchen, especially when you’ve explicitly been told that this isn’t up for discussion.

  41. Seeking Second Childhood*

    Please also address the matter of photos inside your house and of your baby. And also what she can/can’t post on social media.
    Sounds like she needs to be told privacy rules. I would dread her having pics of “this beautiful place where I get to live” ….without having her page set to friends only. That’s asking for a burglary next time she posts about a vacation you’re taking her on.

  42. KWu*

    I agree she’s out of line, and that this is something I would be concerned about being around my child in the long-term, if I didn’t see change. That said, given that you seem to like her overall and your choices sound a little constrained right now, I think it might be more effective to frame the request in a little bit more of a personal way. Something like, “you know, I probably don’t say this often enough, but we feel so lucky to have your help during this pandemic. Your experience has really benefitted our family. [Baby] just looks forward to seeing you every day. I need your help with something, though–I’m feeling overwhelmed by your comments on our food and I need you to stop. I really admire what you’ve done for yourself but it’s making me feel pretty bad when you’re criticizing our groceries and I know that isn’t your intent at all, you are trying to help us. The way to help us is not talk about food anymore except for talking about what [baby] should eat today. Do you think that would work?”

    Good nannies are generally not working as nannies only for the pay. Hopefully she has just gotten a little too obsessed for herself but is otherwise a caring person who would be horrified that she’s hurting someone this way. If she continues to insist that she needs to “educate” you, then yeah, I would take that as a big red flag for what else she might decide to override my directives as a parent and the employer.

  43. Hei Hei, the Chicken from Moana*

    These comments are incredibly disappointing. Please read up on diet culture and how insidious and ingrained it is in NEARLY EVERYONE and EVERYTHING. I’m not excusing the nanny or saying OP is wrong for feeling off here, but there are so many other issues here at play other than “that’s an unhealthy outlook on food.”

    1. Allypopx*

      Yes, it is. And that’s probably no small part about why the OP has plans to make her house a place where food is not good or bad, and everything is allowed in moderation. Understanding the root of the nanny’s behavior does not make the way she is behaving okay, and most of the comments are about how that behavior will impact the child and the environment the child grows up in. Yes, diet culture is everywhere and we’re blasted with it, that’s all the more reason for not wanting this kind of energy around a child actively developing their language centers and understandings of the world.

      1. Student Affairs Sally*

        I don’t think anyone’s arguing that what the nanny is doing is totally fine and that OP should just accept it. But I also think it’s really unkind that some commenters (including you) are basically saying “fire this person immediately” when OP has never had an actual conversation with the nanny about the issue. OP herself says “I’ve tried hinting . . .” but never explicitly saying “these comments/this behavior needs to stop or we can’t continue employing you”. If this were an office job with more ‘traditional’ performance issues – like habitual lateness or a problematic tone in emails or something – you wouldn’t advocate for a boss terminating an employee without that conversation happening, even if the employee had been given several ‘hints’ about what needed to change. Why is this any different? Obviously the situation can’t continue as-is, but that doesn’t mean that immediate termination is the only (or even the best) option.

        1. Allypopx*

          I have said have a conversation, be willing to consider letting her go, and yes defended where the people who have said “fire her” are coming from because “this isn’t allowed in my house and I can’t deal with it” is a choice OP gets to make. I don’t think the nanny should be fired without a conversation but I think the conversation needs to include “your employment cannot continue if this behavior doesn’t stop”.

        2. meyer lemon*

          This seems like a misrepresentation to me. It says in the post that the OP told the nanny “I can’t really talk about food and weight this much; it’s not healthy for me.” If that’s not clear, I don’t know what is. I’m not saying that the OP should now rush to fire the nanny without having a longer conversation, but I think the OP has already been pretty clear and the nanny has been pretty rude.

      2. Hei Hei, the Chicken from Moana*

        I don’t think getting rid of the nanny gets rid of those problems. That’s my point here. Those problems are so deeply ingrained in society that her child is screwed no matter what.

        Well that sounds cynical. Sorry…?

        1. Anon Lawyer*

          And yet you actually can have childcare providers who don’t do this, so being fatalistic about it is weird.

        2. Allypopx*

          “Her child is going to be screwed no matter what” so she shouldn’t make attempts to make her house a place with positive messaging around food and bodies? No. That’s a you issue, and you should explore it if you can, but that is not a normal or healthy approach to this situation.

        3. Ryn*

          Harm reduction. You’ll never be able to keep someone protected from this stuff but you absolutely can limit exposure to harmful ideas and, I’d argue, parents have a responsibility to not knowingly put their kids in psychologically harmful situations.

    2. The problem with people*

      No it is not. Please don’t confuse your obsession with everyone else. I hate it when a ‘group’ determines what is sooooo natural for ‘everybody’ (only breathing is). Plus it has nothing to do with food.

      Are you seriously claiming in your job that you pester your manager about food and tell the manager how disgusting they are? Do you snap photos of their food so you can send them on to other people? If you did after your manager told you to stop repeatedly you would still keep going?

      Because that is what the letter is about, not your PERSONAL issues.

        1. The problem with people*

          The OP shared an update above and the update clearly resolves anything anyone wants to make up. Posters like these are in the bracket of the nanny and need to learn what a workplace is.

    3. Observer*

      Please read up on diet culture and how insidious and ingrained it is in NEARLY EVERYONE and EVERYTHING.

      That’s all the more reason to NOT allow it to come from the kid’s PRIMARY caretaker – 40 hours a week is a LOT.

      Also, it’s not just bad attitude bout food. It’s criticising the kid’s parents all the time. AND the gross invasion of privacy.

    4. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Just because some bad behaviour has a history behind it doesn’t mean we have to excuse it at an individual level.

      And I’m saying that from a perspective of having been seriously harmed by the ‘don’t eat unnatural food’ and ‘fat is disgusting’ culture.

      1. Blue*

        The fact that disordered thinking about food and weight is so pervasive makes it more important to try and limit the harm it does your child, surely, not the opposite.

    5. biobotb*

      I think the OP is fully aware of these issues, which is why they don’t want the nanny foisting her issues on their child (and them). Of course this is ingrained, but that doesn’t excuse the nanny’s behavior.

  44. James*

    One important thing to remember is that the nanny is your employee. If you wouldn’t tolerate this behavior in an office, don’t tolerate it from her. And if your employee is making your life harder, they’re not doing their job. The whole point is to make your life easier.

    If it were me, I’d draft a document stating what your expectations are, both in terms of what the nanny will do (cleaning, changing diapers, driving to play dates) and what you expect her to NOT do (comment on your lifestyle, bring romantic partners over, photograph your home). Then sit down and discuss it with the nanny. The point of this document isn’t to be harsh and authoritarian. It’s to get on the same page, and to provide a template for making future changes. I’d even include a procedure for changes–a weekly or monthly meeting, for example. This is the equivalent of the one-on-one meetings Manager Tools recommends. One of the problems I’m seeing is that many of the job requirements/performance standards aren’t clearly laid out, which is causing some confusion. It can feel awkward, but that’s because we’re not used to dealing with individuals on a professional footing in our country. Again, if this was an office this would be routine, part of the onboarding process. A nanny, as an employee, is really no different.

  45. Jennifer*

    I feel for you and understand that you really can’t afford to lose your nanny, but you also can’t afford to keep a volatile employee in your home, taking care of your baby. I think you need to have a one-time come-to,-Jesus convo with Jane. Start putting feelers out for a potential replacement in case this conversation doesn’t go well. I suspect Jane knows how much you need her and has gotten too comfortable. But remember EVERYONE is replaceable.

  46. Oaktree*

    I also lost a significant amount of weight (not 100+ lbs, but significant) and have strong opinions about how I feel is the best way for me to eat, and I’m in recovery from disordered eating behaviours.

    I feel it’s absolutely inappropriate for Jane to impose her outlook on weight and nutrition on you and by extension on your child. I’m terrified of someday passing on an outlook disordered eating to my hypothetical future child(ren) without meaning to, and if I hired someone for childcare, this is absolutely something I would consider grounds for termination. Passing judgment on someone’s personal and considered decisions about how they raise their kid, including what food choices are made in the family, is unacceptable in the vast majority of cases, and taking pictures of someone’s home and the contents of their cabinets is intrusive and creepy.

    I think, frankly, that you should let Jane go as soon as is feasible. It doesn’t sound like she’s receptive to not imposing her viewpoint on your home and your child, and that isn’t something you should tolerate.

    1. Oaktree*

      That said, I understand these are difficult times and that you need childcare; I don’t intend to sound unsympathetic to that!

  47. Student Affairs Sally*

    I commented this above as a reply to a specific commenter, but I also want to post it more generally, because it’s a trend I’ve been seeing in this comment section that really bothers me.

    For those that are pushing for OP to fire the nanny – I don’t think anyone’s arguing that what the nanny is doing is totally fine and that OP should just accept it. But I also think it’s really unkind that a lot of people are basically saying “fire this person immediately” when OP has never had an actual conversation with the nanny about the issue. OP herself says “I’ve tried hinting . . .” but never explicitly saying “these comments/this behavior needs to stop or we can’t continue employing you”. If this were an office job with more ‘traditional’ performance issues – like habitual lateness or a problematic tone in emails or something – you wouldn’t advocate for a boss terminating an employee without that conversation happening, even if the employee had been given several ‘hints’ about what needed to change. Why is this any different? Obviously the situation can’t continue as-is, but that doesn’t mean that immediate termination is the only (or even the best) option.

    1. Allypopx*

      In addition to my reply above, I do want to answer your “why is this different?” question, because it is and that’s an important part of this to parse. As a lot of people have pointed out, it’s different because this person is taking care of her child and therefore the level of trust between OP and the nanny, and the environment that the child is being raised in are incredibly important – personal dynamics matter 1000x more than they do in a traditional office setting and the consequences of boundaries being violated are much higher.

      1. Student Affairs Sally*

        That’s valid, but I think it still brings up the issue of the fact that OP has never actually clearly communicated that this is a boundary. If that conversation had already happened and the behavior was still continuing, by all means, terminate them. But until the conversation has happened, it’s a different situation, and it’s crappy to fire someone who has never been explicitly warned, unless it’s something that’s causing a clear and immediate danger to the child or household. Could this behavior be dangerous in the long run if it’s not dealt with? Absolutely – that’s why OP needs to talk to the nanny, and escalate as needed if that doesn’t solve the problem. But it’s not a situation of “my child will die or suffer grievous bodily harm if this person isn’t dismissed immediately”, so I don’t think it rises to “immediate termination with no clear discussion of the problem”.

    2. James*

      While I general agree, I would say that it’s justifiable to have different standards for what constitutes an offense justifying immediate termination. For example, if I fall asleep on the job someone’s going to be VERY upset. If a live-in nanny lays down for a nap when the baby does (for example, if she was up late with the baby) I’m going to ignore it as long as the work is done. And it’s going to depend on the family. My grandmother routinely brought us grandkids with us to her job (maid at a rectory). Where she worked this was expected, even a sort of soft requirement–if we didn’t come to visit her employer asked about us, and sometimes came to visit. For a different employer this would have been horrifically unprofessional.

      Like you say, the OP needs to sit down and discuss the requirements with her employee. Obviously informal communication isn’t working, so something more formal needs to take place.

    3. Observer*

      I have mixed feelings here. In part, I agree – talk to the nanny.

      On the other hand, the issue of talking to others is something that the OP should NOT need to have to talk to the the nanny about. That’s such a breach of trust that I’m not sure if any conversations could change anything.

    4. PT*

      The reason you would fire a nanny, rather than coach a nanny, is that a lot of dissatisfied or bad employees take corrective/coaching conversations poorly and spend the next day or so grousing/stewing/engaging in acts of petty revenge against the boss.

      In a workplace where they’re neglecting their work to do that- answering emails, returning phone calls, filling out spreadsheets, completing forms, inputting data- you can absorb a grousing. In a workplace where they’re neglecting a child? The child is being harmed, and you cannot allow that.

      In an exceptionally extreme outlier case of this, there was the story in New York some years ago about the family who had some coaching conversations with the nanny, who took it poorly, and murdered the children (the Krim family.) Again, this is an exceptionally extreme rare outlier, but it’s the general sentiment that makes people very risk-averse about upsetting their childcare employee, because their childcare employee is in a position of power over their most precious possession, their child, and they do not want the childcare employee to take it out on the kid.

      1. pancakes*

        What happened to the Krim family is not an “outlier case of this” in any sense, and I’m stunned that your takeaway from it is that the nanny took coaching poorly. She was found competent to stand trial, but numerous witnesses testified to periods of untreated depression, auditory hallucinations, and dissociative episodes she’d experienced. She also stabbed herself so hard that she broke multiple bones in her neck. It’s impossible to say whether she was fully mentally present when she murdered the children, but it’s quite easy to avoid suggesting that people should avoid coaching nannies for fear of their children being murdered!

      2. Roci*

        “a lot of dissatisfied or bad employees take corrective/coaching conversations poorly and spend the next day or so grousing/stewing/engaging in acts of petty revenge against the boss.”
        ….what?! What kind of dysfunctional places have you worked in?
        I have been a dissatisfied, even a bad employee and when corrected yes I was angry and resentful, but I did not consider or engage in petty revenge against my boss!

        Someone who actually takes correction as license to get revenge is seriously unhinged. Most people just grumble and correct their behaviors. This is not a reason not to correct someone doing something wrong.

    5. Cat Tree*

      Not everyone said to fire her immediately. Most are advising firing her whenever that becomes practical.

      That said, kids pick up on it when adult caregivers judge them, however silently they think they’re doing it, about food and their body. This nanny could possibly work in the short term if she stops making explicit comments about food. But I wouldn’t want her to be a long term primary caregiver and pass along her serious issues around food. That kid doesn’t deserve that.

  48. WeightWatcher*

    As someone who has been on a weight loss journey before, I actually had a different thought regarding the drawer picture. There may have been a food (or foods!) in there that she is particularly fond of and is looking for strategies to cope with her cravings. A lot of plans, like Weight Watchers, encourage you to keep those foods out of your sight, but as a nanny in someone else’s home you don’t have much control over that. Now, I would probably not take a picture in someone’s private home, but I have in the past taken pictures of the daily donut or bagel spreads in my office to show people for support and tips on how to curb my cravings and stick to my plan. She may be thinking along the same lines of “oh, let me show my support person/group what I’m dealing with so they can help me with a plan” and not realizing that it feels like a violation of your privacy because she does work in your home.

    Additionally, as others have stated, weight loss can be all-consuming. Depending on her background, nutrition and health may be relatively new to her and she’s become obsessed with sharing her newly found knowledge. I have known people who have lost weight simply because they didn’t understand what a serving looks like or what foods are more or less filling and then once they learned they felt the need to share the information CONSTANTLY. I think you just need to have a very blunt conversation about it and let her know that it’s your home and your choices and you simply won’t raise your child in this type of environment (it’s unhealthy for children to grow up too food obsessed, it leads to a lifetime of an unhealthy relationship with food…I would know…)

    1. Annabeth*

      I commented exactly this below! I lost over 80 lbs and was completely obsessed for a couple years because you really have to be to get the results and keep them. I don’t think it’s a great thing haha but I do think it’s normal and she may not notice because I did NOT

    2. Morning Glory*

      Yes, that is really similar to what I thought. Weight loss is fragile and the majority of people who lose a significant amount of weight gain it all back within a few years. The nanny seems happy with her weight loss from the description and I would bet she is scared of losing a lifestyle change change that she is happy with.

      It’s quite likely she is really struggling, spending so much time every day around foods she finds tempting, and that her weird overstepping on boundaries has been an attempt to reduce or remove those temptations. My mind went to a similar place with the picture, that it wasn’t to mock the OP, but to give a sense to someone (support group, weight loss buddy, someone else trusted) what kind of temptation she is struggling with on a daily basis. Still unprofessional, still an overstep, and still needs to stop but not malicious, and more about her struggles than judging the OP.

      1. Observer*

        Still something that needs to stop NOW. And still enough of an overstep that if it does not stop IMMEDIATELY, worth firing over.

  49. LGC*

    I sort of lost it when I saw her snap a photo of our snack drawer presumably to show someone what pigs we are but I didn’t say anything because I needed to work.

    She what

    Even if she wasn’t taking the photo to mock you, that’s just weirdly invasive.

    That said – honestly, I’d almost approach it as if it were a friend or a roommate? Yes, she’s your nanny (and thus your employee), but she’s also for practical purposes living with you for 40 hours a week. It’d be weird if a roommate started judging all of your food choices (even if they recently had bariatric surgery), and it’s definitely weird here. You also need to specifically address the photo-taking – not based on what her intent is or could have been, but because she did it without permission and that feels weird enough to me that it needs to be addressed.

    Normally I’d be all on the barricades advocating for this nanny to be yeeted out of your house, but we’re still in a pandemic and we’ve already had a couple of horror stories about nannies who take care of the kids by day and take care of shots at the bar by night. So the fact that she’s being cautious and she’s well-bonded with your child are huge bonuses that I wouldn’t want to take for granted. You definitely can find replacements if you have to (so don’t be afraid to fire her), but it sounds like you don’t want to go that far just yet.

    1. Just Another Zebra*

      I don’t think approaching it as you would with a friend or roommate is the right strategy, just because she isn’t those things (and frankly, I’d be harsher with a friend commenting on my dietary choices). It isn’t her home for 40 hours a week, just as I’d never consider my office a home. It’s a work place. It’s a boundary that has to be maintained.

      1. LGC*

        Okay, maybe that was the wrong phrasing, but…honestly, I think LW needs to be a bit “harsher” (or rather, more direct). That’s why I said that – I meant for LW to think of what she’d do if a friend came over to her house and judged her on her food choices, even if that friend also had bariatric surgery.

        It’s not the nanny’s home, yes. (Regardless of what the nanny thinks.) But she’s also working pretty intimately with LW, so the boundaries are already a bit lowered. LW sounds like she’s concerned about criticizing the nanny because of the surgery, when the nanny seems to be much less concerned with LW’s feelings.

  50. The problem with people*

    The OP has already commented (Scroll above) that she doesn’t even use that drawer or take anything out of it. Nanny must have opened a few drawers to find the one she wanted to take photos of.

  51. Exhausted Trope*

    I’m wondering if the nanny is uncomfortable working around snacks she feels are unhealthy? Maybe that’s why she’s commenting so negatively on something that’s absolutely not her business. But the photo taking? Beyond the pale.

    1. pancakes*

      It’s certainly possible, but feeling uncomfortable and expressing those feelings to one’s boss are two different things. Feeling uncomfortable doesn’t oblige her to make everyone in her vicinity uncomfortable as well.

  52. Spicy Tuna*

    Both of my parents have differing and weird food hang ups (that came from growing up very poor). I was truly unaware how it impacted me until I moved in with my boyfriend ~15 years ago and realized that my parents’ attitude towards food and eating is not normal at all. It sounds like the OP and her spouse are trying to model healthful attitudes towards food and eating and the nanny is at risk of undoing that. I think it’s probably fine to keep the nanny until the child is a year or two old and will start to absorb the negative messaging. But after that, it is critical that she not be around the child

  53. Janeloe*

    I think the photo is a really big issue, because I am someone who values privacy (I basically do not allow others to take photos of me that would be “out of my control” ie posted online without my consent). But it brings up a larger question surrounding what you are and are not comfortable having photographed. Maybe addressing the photo snap in a larger/more general context would allow you to set ground rules surrounding what you and are not comfortable with. Discussion of food can be included in that!

  54. AutolycusinExile*

    In my opinion, the issue here isn’t that she’s complaining to strangers who don’t know OP at all, and personally I wouldn’t even take issue with her snapping a non-identifying photo of food, even if it was in order to gripe about it. It’s the rudeness, criticism, and judgement that the nanny is directing at OP and their family which are the massive problems here, along with the nanny’s apparent inability to keep her food hang-ups to herself (and therefore away from kiddo).

    To be honest, I was a bit taken aback by how much of the commentariat’s focus is on the photo and the complaining to friends/family. It sounds unlikely that the photo of the drawer would identify OP’s household or include private information, and I frankly have no issue with someone venting or gossiping about work to a friend. (Really, who among us can honestly say they’ve never complained vigorously but unfairly about something that pisses us off at work? I feel like if the streams had never crossed and OP never heard about the nanny’s complaints then there’d be no real issue. Though not a universal skill, lots of people can be good coworkers to people they don’t like or in workplaces that irritate them. If you never let your distaste show, then no harm, no foul.)
    I guess what I’m saying is that the gossiping itself could have been irrelevant if the nanny hadn’t let OP find out about it. The real issue here is that this nanny is being rude and unkind to the people she works with. Now that she has established this larger pattern of crappy behavior, making a rule about photos or telling her to stop gossiping would be like painting over a crack in the wall. You need to fix the foundation, or else more cracks will show up later.

    Being rude is a choice that she is intentionally making, and that’s a huge red flag from someone who is raising your child. I hate to say it, given how difficult childcare is these days, but I agree that you need to have a serious conversation with her ASAP and make sure that you’re being explicit about the immediate changes that you need to see – and if she can’t meet those terms posthaste then you need to find another childcare solution :/

    1. AutolycusinExile*

      To clarify my point with regards to the photography: I think it’s clear my privacy tolerances don’t match a lot of the commentariat’s… but that’s kind of important! Different people have different privacy boundaries. When someone is behaving like this nanny has been, it’s very understandable that OP’s need for privacy would increase dramatically in response. However, as a more general rule, I’d personally equate a photo of food in a kitchen (which your nanny presumably cooks and eats in, no less) to someone walking down the sidewalk seeing what’s in your trash can on the side of the road – not a big deal at all, in a lot of situations.

      Now, an otherwise inoffensive action like this can certainly become an invasion of privacy as part of a larger context of behaviors (for example, if a stalker intentionally sought out the contents of your trash can) but at that point you have a larger problem that needs to be addressed (the stalker’s obsessive behavior) and I think you’d be better off addressing the larger issue without getting into the weeds of one or two particular examples. (If a stalker can’t get on to the property then they also cannot get to the trash can; if a nanny is not rude or vindictive then a photo of a random snack is benign and does no harm.)

      And if there isn’t a larger pattern of behavior but you still don’t want people seeing inside your trash can, then you need to buy a lid for it – or have a formal conversation laying out your privacy requirements, if you’ll forgive my clunky metaphor. I admit that I would never have thought to ask before taking a photo of store-bought food that I was curious about while babysitting. Photos of the home or people in it are obviously different, but there isn’t a clear-cut point where it becomes universally unacceptable. Obviously this particular nanny has lost her benefit of the doubt, but I can imagine you might run into a similar problem with your next nanny too, without the baggage of malicious behavior. Instituting a no-tolerance photography policy is reasonable; expecting your employee to intuit its existence psychically could leave both of you unhappy.

      I think OP would be well served by presenting clear expectations for their nannies just like they do for the people the manage at work. For the current nanny: explicitly lay out any problem behaviors and attitudes you’ve seen, be explicit about what needs to change, and be clear that if the nanny cannot commit to these changes going forward then you’ll need to let her go.

  55. lotus*

    OP, I regret that I don’t have time to read all the comments ahead of mine, and am sorry if I am being redundant. But on the off-handed chance that this helps, I wanted to share something I was told by a professional nanny that ran an agency. Nannies (at least professional ones) are not supposed to judge the families they work for, especially not in the manner that you are describing. I’d had bad experiences with nannies before meeting her, and when she told me this it was like a light bulb going off in my head. A lot of the times when I had issues, it was not me, it was them – they crossed a boundary. I had tiptoed around them/blamed myself needlessly. You sound overly considerate (I was too!) and I know that childcare right now is frustratingly difficult to find and maintain. But rest assured, just as Allison mentioned, your nanny is the one that is making this awkward, she is the one that is in the wrong for making these comments, and in the wrong for taking a picture of your things in your house with presumed intent to criticize. And if she doesn’t have the tactfulness to understand how rude her comments are, then there is another issue underlying this as well: her obliviousness (which may extend into other aspects of her care as well). I hope that a conversation with her remedies her naivete.

    Good luck to you!

  56. Parenthetically*

    I’m on team “fire her ass” too. She’s obsessed with every food item that comes into the house, critiquing it for optimal healthfulness or lack thereof. She won’t stop making comments about every ding-dang thing you, her employers, eat, even with fairly clear pushback that anyone should be able to pick up on. I would not have someone who talked like that around my kids.

    I mean this very seriously as a person who has dealt with disordered eating for decades: she is exhibiting textbook eating disorder behaviors right now. She may not have a full-blown eating disorder, but unless she snaps out of it, she’s going to be teaching by example as your kid gets older.

  57. Annabeth*

    I wanted to offer the perspective of someone who has also lost a significant amount of weight and has struggled with disordered eating for years. During and after my weight loss, food was an absolute obsession of mine because I had to constantly relearn everything I knew about eating and nutrition. This led to me policing the foods my friends and family were eating….and I wasn’t even registering that I was doing it.

    I feel like this might be what’s goin on with the nanny, and that she may not even realize that she’s doing it. I was so embarrassed when people finally pointed it out to me, but I’m glad they did.

  58. JSPA*

    Given that you’d strongly prefer not fire her and break in a new nanny during a pandemic, you may need to pivot away from “what an employee should do” to “what this particular employee apparently can do.”

    I don’t want to say she has disordered eating (we don’t know that) nor disordered thinking (we don’t know that either) but (as it’s putting her employment at risk, even in the face of explicit direction from her employer) I’m comfortable declaring that she has disordered behavior involving responses to food.

    I see two choices.

    One: you tell her that she is not to take pictures of any sort, anytime, inside your house. This is actually pretty normal; she should not be sharing or documenting your life.

    Two: you lock the snack drawer, or put the snacks in a locking file box.

    I’d probably do both.

    Rationale: If she’s struggling with being professional only (or primarily) around food issues? Well, food issues can be pretty intractable for a lot of people. Showering opprobrium on her “scary” foods may currently be her one tool that protects her from [some personally damaging behavior].

    Given that you can’t be the person who connects her with services that could help her find other tools, what other choices are there?

    She’s an employee, so you can’t force her to drop a quarter in a “swear jar” for negative food talk.

    You absolutely can assert your rights to run your household exactly as you see fit, with all foods equally accessible, and demand she not use her coping mechanism…but at the fairly high risk of putting her in an untenable situation. That’s likely to play out worse–for both of you and for your child–than hiding the twix and nutter butters.

    You could have a conversation where you focus on what she needs, to be able not to talk about food choices in your house. Even if you don’t explicitly say the following, you can have it in mind while discussing the issue. “I have directed you to avoid talking about good and bad food, and not to critique our food choices. I see that this is difficult for you. What accommodations might you need, to make you better able to meet this core requirement of the job?”

    Finally, be aware that on some level, you’re making this a conflict of equals about conflicting philosophies, and feeling obliged to listen and to engage. But that’s a discussion you can and should opt out of.

    You don’t need to convince her, nor even explain yourself! You don’t need to give her airspace to convince you! Whether she believes in How Bad Foods Lie To Us, or in How Breaking A Mirror Is Seven Years Bad Luck, or that [deity of choice] [died for our sins/ lost an eye for knowledge / loved butter]–that’s a frame of reference and a belief system that she’s allowed to have. It’s not professional to share it at work.

    1. allathian*

      Well, if her accommodation would be to become the family dietician who decides what everyone eats and when, and who gets to approve or disapprove of the family’s food choices, this is obviously a no-go.

      I have absolutely zero sympathy for this nanny. She has absolutely no business being around children, never mind being their primary caregiver. The diet talk has to stop and it has to stop now.

      Have the come-to-Jesus talk with her by all means, but her behavior is so inappropriate that words fail me.

  59. I'm just here for the cats*

    So I would be concerned about how she acts about food when the baby gets older and is understanding more. Like if the kid wants a lolypop is the baby going to lecture them about how sugar is bad, etc. Or will they go on about how carbs are bad and you can’t eat X food. I know that might be a few years away bit it could happen. And the child could become confused and develop an eating concern.

  60. Ellen N.*

    Unfortunately, it looks like this nanny is incompatible with your household.

    Most people who provide care for children and have strong opinions about what food is healthy will not be able to suppress their opinions. They believe that the stakes are too high in that they are passively watching a child being poorly nourished. This nanny would be a better employee in a household where the parents shared her views on nutrition.

    Regarding photographing your snack drawer; I don’t have a snack drawer, but if I did it wouldn’t bother me if someone photographed it to share, mock, whatever.

      1. Ellen N.*

        When I worked in childcare, I babysat a baby who was given soda pop and coffee in his bottle. Shockingly, the mother was a nurse.

          1. Ellen N.*

            My point was not about the baby’s nutrition. I was saying that as the nanny is evangelical about her views on nutrition there is probably no way to get her to stop commenting on the original poster’s food choices.

      2. Observer*

        How long do you think that lasts? By the time the kid is a year old, it’s a good chance that they will be eating the occasional snack, even if Mom is actually nursing primarily. Beyond that, by that point the kid WILL understand in a general sense that “Mommy and Daddy a eating BAD food” and maybe even “Mommy and Daddy are bad parents and bad people”, at least in the opinion of Nanny. That’s incredibly toxic.

        1. Anon Lawyer*

          I don’t really feel like this is responding to my comment. I was answering the allegation that the nanny probably feels like the parents are essentially abusing the baby by improperly nourishing her via snacks.

          1. Observer*

            If she does not feel that YET, she will quite soon. The day that they eat a “bad” snack in front of the child, probably. The day that they allow Kiddo to eat a “bad” snack, for sure. And that day is not so far away.

    1. JSPA*

      The nanny is there because daycare is problematic during Covid. With more vaccines (and with some lag, more treatments) coming online every week or so, keeping things peaceable for the next 3 to 5 months (at which point, daycare or a different nanny is a much easier proposition) is a much bigger issue than, “what about when the kid has long-term memory and is making independent food choices.”

      Additionally, if the nanny’s personal beliefs are incompatible with the requirements of her workplace, she’s more than welcome to give notice. She’s not welcome to redefine the rules of her workplace.

  61. Hiring Mgr*

    If someone took a photo of my snack drawer and posted it online, I hope I wouldn’t be shamed for buying store brand saltines instead of the Nabisco brand. Truth is I just prefer them

      1. Old and Don’t Care*

        And now I will be checking out store brand saltines…{deletes multiple sentences about saltiness of saltines and various other snacks}.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Ah see…I like generic because it tends to have less salt because it’s often something they can cut back on to control costs.

  62. Salt & Vinegar Chips*

    The taking photos would push me over the edge here, especially if she is putting this on social media. We think we put up with a lot from our nanny but she is also fabulous with my kids (she is worth so much more than we could ever pay her for, she is the teacher and protector that I hope I would be). She is highly critical of me and my husband and our choices (language usage, Food choices, and furniture choices), and she is very picky about her food options at our home (she only drinks smart water, he and my children only eat organic fruits, vegetables, and meat, and expects extravagant/hard to get food items weekly for the children to try). We accept her expectations and slights against us because she is so good with our children and she is always willing to be available for a work emergency and even a personal one that came up last year. She has also never taken photos that I am aware of to shame us, only to send us pictures of our children and things they are doing.

  63. Morning Flowers*

    LW, as an actual person who’s 18 months into a weight-loss journey and about to pass up that lost-100-lb milestone — I would *never* comment to an employer like that. But I can also see really clearly how your employee just … might not realize how far out of line she is, even after your previous comments. (I even think it’s very possible she *has* adjusted her behavior in response to previous comments, but in ways and to extents that might seem very different to *her*, and still be totally inconsequential to *you.* That’s how different the world becomes by the time pound no. 100 is about to finally be defeated. So the clearer and more specific you can be about what you need her to change the better, and don’t be afraid to follow up on it later on!) So, just my two cents’ worth that this problem is almost certainly fixable, and good luck to you!

  64. Not A Manager*

    I think this is the time for Alison’s script of “these are the requirements of the job, do you think you can commit to that?”

    This is someone who seems to feel that, for her, food is dangerous and she’s bringing that attitude to her work environment. You need to tell her that you support her wellness journey, that you will always have food that she feels is healthy for her, but that in your house everyone’s attitude needs to be “eyes on your own plate.” You do not want any comments about what she is eating, what you are eating, or what you feed your child. You need her to commit to not discussing these issues with you, or with your child in the future. You need her not to photograph anything or anyone in your home without your permission. “Please think about this overnight and let me know tomorrow whether you are able to commit to this going forward.”

    I think her response will give you a good sense of whether she’s the intrusive, boundary-ignoring harpy that some commenters are perceiving, or whether she’s a person who has a deeply troubled relationship with food and is defending herself in an inappropriate manner. But even if it’s the latter, if she’s unable to control her behavior going forward then it’s not safe or healthy for your family to keep employing her.

  65. justabot*

    When I was going through a period where I was very dedicated to losing weight/body fat, I used to send pictures of all my meals to my trainer. Is it possible she could have send the junk food picture to someone like, Help!! I’m around all this food and I want to eat it!!!

    Not saying that makes taking pictures of your house okay, but just a thought that she may have been texting someone with her own struggles to stay on plan or that it was hard to be around junk food. Not necessarily shaming the LW for being pigs or having snacks and junk food around the house.

    1. Batgirl*

      You’d probably make a kind assumption like this if it were not for the other comments and smug, judgy context. All the more reason for her to knock it off; it’s building suspicion and distrust.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Or perhaps it feels smug and judgey, but she’s actually not meaning it like it’s coming across.

        It’s easy to misread others, especially if it’s a sensitive topic like weight/food.

        So you can just say “Hey, what’s up with you taking pictures?” and get a real answer, instead of continuing to just think the worst and letting resentment and paranoia set in.

  66. Batgirl*

    You need to go to a pretty serious tone with this, even if that means sandwiching your hard line in something positive. Something like: “I like you and I want this to work out, which is why I am letting you know what my bottom line is. Bottom line: I will not be judged in my home and I will not let my child be around any negative food talk. Now, I know you are great at being discreet and professional once you know where the line is. I have no doubt you can keep to our requirements really well going forward.”

  67. Trixie, the Great and Pedantic*

    If someone this food-obsessed is feeding your child, I’d be worried about whether they were enforcing their own dietary limitations on the kid- not just passing on their attitude towards food, but actively meddling in what the kid eats.

  68. Reluctant Manager*

    My Weight Watchers leader used to say, “The only polite comment on someone else’s food is, ‘My, that looks delicious!'”

  69. Bridget the Elephant*

    Something I haven’t seen in the rest of the comments that’s with considering – once you have qualms about something, you may have already made up your mind without realising it.

    We had a childcare situation where the nursery we sent our daughter to closed right before the pandemic hit. We had no childcare for 6 months and so when we did manage to get her into another nursery that we liked we *desperately wanted* it to be a good fit.

    Then little things started to give us doubts – she didn’t get assigned a key worker, the staff couldn’t give us detailed updates on what she’d been doing, she came home immaculately clean (one of the selling points of the nursery was that it had a huge outdoor space that they claimed to use all the time – there was never any mud/grass on her, ever). She wasn’t eating properly there. Then we found out they’d put her down for her nap by sitting her in a stroller in front of the TV.

    The realising that this was not the setting for her came very gradually and we doubted ourselves the whole time – was moving her worth the disruption? Were we just being too picky? Would we even be able to get a place with another provider? But once those doubts are there, your decision is half made. We now have her in a setting that suits her and us much better.

    OP, listen to your intuition about what’s right for you and baby. It isn’t just the food issue, or the privacy issue, or the boundaries – do you really feel comfortable with this nanny?

    Consider looking for alternate providers in the meantime. It does no harm to see what options are out there.

  70. tired*

    There’s been a lot of fan fiction in this thread. It doesn’t sound like Ms. Perfect Diet would eat anything in the snack drawer! Besides, my house, my rules.

  71. Jo*

    Taking a photo of your snack drawer!!! To be fair, I hadn’t considered the possibility, which Alison raised, that there might be a more innocent explantion for this. I hope that’s the case, but that would annoy me too if it’s not. I’d raise it nicely but firmly and say that you want to stop having this discussion, and if she brings it up again say ‘this is an example of what I was talking about when I asked you to stop commenting on our food’.

  72. caseykay68*

    Late to this conversation but just want to mention that food has no moral value. There is not good or bad food – it’s just food. We can make choices about foods we want to consume – and can understand that certain foods make us feel a certain way. This whole thinking is very much diet culture and messes with all of our heads.

  73. Otter Dance*

    Late to comment, but….
    Have you heard of the concept of “trigger foods”, foods that a dieter really needs to avoid entirely because they are incapable of exercising moderation with those particular foods? (Like the potato chip ad: can’t eat just one.)
    The surest way to sabotage a dieter is to leave their trigger food where they can’t avoid seeing it repeatedly. BTDT
    I’m not saying your nanny has handled the discussion well at all, but is it possible she is trying to avoid having to be around specific foods? And just hasn’t explained herself well?

  74. Guess Who*

    OP, I know the idea of finding a new nanny in the middle of a pandemic sounds overwhelming, but it can be done! There are lots of good nannies out there, and many are desperate for work right now, as many families let them go to due financial constraints or to limit COVID exposures. I’ve had 3 nannies in 3 years. First left due to family reasons. Second quit when COVID started over concerns for her own health. Third is going strong. Two of the three have been excellent, One of the three was good. Not saying you have to fire her over this, but know that if you decide to, you WILL find someone else, possibly someone who’s a better fit for your family.

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