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Getting Real: Over-Snacking

March 31, 2011

Why this is a problem snack for my kid, I'll never understand! YUM!

Last week, I talked a bit about how to get your kids to eat healthier foods. That post didn’t come from a mom who has all the answers. Just last night, I struggled to get my 4yo to take his No Thank You bites of a new dinner. He’s just so freakin’ scared of food and it’s stressful. But I keep trying, because I can see with our 11 year old that persistence pays off.

One thing that I’ve been working hard on with the 4 year old is his snacking. One of the reasons this process has been so long and painful is that I neglected to see the impact his through-the-day snacking had on his appetite at dinner. Basically, my kid figured out that he could eat more food throughout the day so that eating a tiny dinner – or no dinner at all – wasn’t that big of a deal. He figured it out before I did, the little stinker! I feel a bit played, but it was my fault. The kid doesn’t eat unless I give food to him, so this is on you, Momma!

At this point, I have to limit him to one cup of milk and one cup of juice a day…the rest is water. As for eating, he must eat breakfast, and then he can get a snack around 10-10:30ish. We frequently miss this snack if we’re busy. Lunch is between 11:30 and 12. If it’s a preschool day, he gets another snack around 1:30 – and what he gets depends on what the parent helper brought.

However, if it’s not a preschool day, we (or rather, I) came up with this plan. He can have a carb-heavy or starchy snack no later than 2pm. After that, he can only have a protein or fruit or veggie snack. This may be pepperoni slices, string cheese, raisins, freeze dried strawberries. (Remember, this is my kid that won’t eat fresh fruits and veggies!) But after 4pm…no go. Unless I know we’re having a late dinner, it’s nothing but water after 4pm until dinner.

Let’s face it…this kid pretty much hates me with my snacking plan. Especially since the other two kids don’t necessarily have to follow the same snack rules. Yeah, I’m that kind of mom. Each of kid has their own issues, so each kid has to deal with their own consequences. And thanks to the picky eating by Boy #1, I’m already looking for signs from Boy #2. He may very well end up with the same snacking rules if he dares test me like his big brother!

But being my kids’ best friend is not my job. Giving them what they need to be their best is. I by no means have this kids-eating-healthy thing down pat. I still struggle with it on a semi-regular basis. But it’s a struggle worth fighting, because they will carry these lessons they learn now with them the rest of their lives. When they’re older and I’m not there to tell them what to eat, they will hopefully be able to make balanced choices on their own. Noticed I said balanced. Not perfect!

Any other thoughts or ideas on this over-snacking we let our kids do? I’d love to hear from other moms and dads in the trenches!

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