kids and snacking?

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phano
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kids and snacking?

Post by phano » Fri May 09, 2008 6:25 am

I have a four year old son, and now that I've been no-Sing successfully for five months, I've started wondering about all the snacking that he does. He has a post-nap snack at preschool (I'm not sure what--crackers, probably), and usually some fruit or carrots while his dad and I are getting dinner together. I have read that small children do well with smaller, more frequent meals, but I know that that kind of eating does not work for most adults. So, my question for people with older kids or who grew up before snacking was deemed healthy: Did you snack as a kid? Did you let your kids? Are healthy snacks (fruit, veggies, bread and butter, etc.) something small/growing children need and will eventually grow out of? Or is snacking, even for children, a sort of dietary Trojan horse?

Thanks!

p.s. I don't let him snack if he's refused a meal. I figure that we the parents are not short order cooks and that he should eat what's put in front of him at dinner.

London Mum
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Post by London Mum » Fri May 09, 2008 8:59 am

I don't think it's a good idea to be too strict with kids, as they do need energy in varying amounts, depending on whether they are growing, have just been ill, etc. I think little kids are better at just deciding when they are full, too.

I hope that I will set them an example of not snacking, and make sure they know that there are different types of food, some are good for you, and others don't have any health benefit but are nice as treats to have sometimes.

I also prefer not to have a regular snack time in the day. My kids are 4 and 6 and sometimes they say they are hungry when they get home from school, but other times they don't ask. If they are hungry I might give them a snack of fruit and a biscuit (cookie) but other times I will just cook early for them. (I guess they might need a regular snack if we ate as a family but my husband works late so we eat our meal once they are in bed). I would not cook dessert for them in the week (but then I never did) but sometimes I let them have treat after their meal - at the moment they are still working through the chocolate they got for Easter (it was quite a lot!). But they don't always ask.

They also get a pudding with their school dinner, so they eat a fair bit of sweet stuff in the week. But they are slim and fit so no problem imo.

I also try not to let them run around with food and I never let them eat in the car.

LM

wosnes
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Post by wosnes » Fri May 09, 2008 9:51 am

My thoughts on this have changed. I think by the time children are eating at the table with you, they don't need snacks. The only possible exception to this is if there's routinely a large amount of time between one meal and the next. As an example, if you eat lunch at noon but don't eat dinner until 8. Then a snack midway between would be okay -- but it would be okay for you, too!

I've read several times about people on the board making cookies, etc., for kids for lunches or snacks. Here's my thought on that: if it's okay for them, it's okay for you.

Smaller children generally don't eat the same amount of food at meals as older children or adults. If they're consistently hungry between meals, I'd increase the amount of food they're served rather than add snacks. Of course, it's perfectly okay to give them a glass of juice or milk between meals just as you'd do yourself if you're hungry.

We had afternoon/after school snacks when I was growing up and also for my kids -- usually about 4 PM. We also routinely ate dinner later. Once the meal was being made it was too late for snacks -- it would ruin your appetite for dinner.

Now, when did all this go to the devil? Sometime around the time everyone started being so busy after school and work -- when meals together became more of the exception rather than the rule. If I could do it over again, that's what I'd change.
"That which we persist in doing becomes easier for us to do. Not that the nature of the thing itself has changed but our power to do it is increased." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"You are what you eat -- so don't be Fast, Easy, Cheap or Fake."

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reinhard
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Post by reinhard » Fri May 09, 2008 2:00 pm

If "snack" is an extra meal, something regular and defined that they eat (say) after school, then I think it's fine. You don't want to turn into some kind of food nazi with your kids -- that's guaranteed to leave them with messed up eating issues.

But if they're eating whatever whenever (and "whenever" always turns into "whatever", no matter how good your intentions), then it's as terrible as it is for adults -- worse, because you'll be building the habit so early and so powerfully. Permasnacking is something you definitely want to avoid.

Our girls are too young (and too frighteningly skinny, my eldest was a tiny little premie) for me to have had to deal with this much yet. We're pretty good about mostly sticking to meals with them at home, but it's not a hard rule. It's mostly just us modeling with our own behavior. At preschool/daycare, however, it's total chaos. Ask again if a few years and I'll have a more informed answer :-)

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kccc
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Post by kccc » Fri May 09, 2008 2:28 pm

My rule of thumb has been to distinguish between "snacks" and "treats."

A snack is a food that would be perfectly acceptable as part of a meal. A treat is more like a dessert.

If my son ASKS, he can have a snack, but not a treat. I will sometimes offer if our schedule is going to be erratic and we're eating later than normal.

That seems to work for us. If he knows he's going to get an apple rather than a candy bar, he self-regulates pretty decently.

Now, we have fallen into too-many-desserts after meals. My husband sets a bad example there, and I don't have the energy to fight that battle. I just keep portions tiny, and again, if he doesn't ask, I don't offer.

Betty
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Post by Betty » Mon May 12, 2008 6:25 am

I grew up in the 70s in the first "health food" wave. We werent allowed any sugar at all. when my husband proposed the "one treat a day" plan for our kids I kind of balked.

The idea is this: each day the kids can have one (small) treat any time they ask, even if it's right after breakfast. And that's it for the day.

Sounds like a lot of sugar, but my kids have become so strict with themselves that they even refuse extra candy at xmas! I know that this is sort of opposite to NoS mentality, but it's amazing how strong their habits have become....

Betty

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Mavilu
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Post by Mavilu » Mon May 12, 2008 7:18 am

I'm starting to sound like a scratched record, but okay, here it goes again:
I wasn't raised on snacks, netiher were my friends or any of my compatriots, for that matter, we don't get snacks in kindergarden or in school.
We do have a fourth (or third) meal for the children, however; afternoon tea, which is to cut the longest period in between meals in our day, usually tea and milk plus a couple of small slices of bread butter and jam in winter and cold chocolate milk and nothing else in summer.

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MerryKat
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Post by MerryKat » Tue May 13, 2008 9:58 am

My boys are 10 and 3 1/2.

My 10 year old is a solid kid who is all muscle and very little fat. He eats what ever you put in front of him with no arguement. On an average week day he has breakfast at 06h30, packed sandwich and fruit 10h00, cooked school lunch 13h00, mid afternoon snack at school 15h00 and dinner 19h30. He may have a piece of fruit or a teaspoon of PB at around 17h30 if he is complaining of being hungry, but usually not.

My 3 1/2 year old is also a solid kid with little or no extra fat on him. He is a really fussy eater and has been since birth. His average week day meals are as follows - breakfast at home at 06h30, breakfast at school at 08h00, mid morning snack at school 10h00, cooked lunch at school at 12h30, mid afternoon snack at school 15h00 and dinner around 18h30 (he normally has a pb sandwich and banana / apple and yoghurt Or egg, toast and fruit or yoghurt for dinner). He will also have a piece of fruit or a teaspoon of PB when we get home around 17h00.

I try and keep them eating 3 meals with healthy snacks in between (fruit / yoghurt / 1/2 sandwich if really hungry).

They are not allowed sweets / crisps / soda during the week and over the weekend it is a little serving after lunch and maybe after dinner.

If you are 'hungry for cookies' (my youngests favourite saying) then you are not really hungry and if you think you are really hungry you have some fruit in my house.

I think snacks for children who are naturally active is required but those snacks need to be as healthy as possible.
Hugs from Sunny South Africa
Vanilla No S with no Sugar due to Health issues - 11 yrs No S - September 2016 (some good, some bad (my own doing) but always the right thing for me!)

Dawn
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Post by Dawn » Tue May 13, 2008 4:48 pm

I have 3 teenage sons and I find if they eat 3 good meals they don't go looking for snacks. And they only ask for dessert once in awhile. Thank God they are naturally like their Dad. But when they were little they had tiny little appetites and I am sure they were truly hungry a few hours after sharing one Happy Meal between the three of them, so a snack was necessary. Just keep the snacks healthy. I don't think most kids reach for carrot sticks or apple slices if they aren't really hungry. Cookies and candy are another story.

And here is my 2 cents on making them eat what's in front of them. I think it might be a better approach to be a little more flexible with small children when it comes to expecting them to eat what you put in front of them. Of course they have pickier pallets when they are small and catering to their every whim isn't a good idea. But I remember feeling very insignificant as a child when my folks didn't care that I didn't like meat loaf, they just expected me to eat it. And when I didn't they punished me by making me go to bed hungry. I think this is one of those "you gotta pick your battles with your kids" kinda things. Having dissention between you and your kids over their dislike of meatloaf isn't worth it. Our house rules are: 1. You have to try things to see if your taste has changed (and they know it has with a lot of things) 2. If they don't like something they must politely say "I don't really care for this" rather than "ewww this is yucky" 3. They will have to make due with whatever I throw together for their plan B meal and not complain, like a bowl of cereal or PB & J sandwich. Now that they are older they can scrounge up their own plan B meal, and they do, without complaining.

OK, so maybe that was more that 2 cents but I just wanted to share the view from the little kid in me that still remembers being made to feel like I was a bad kid because I didn’t care for a particular food. And just so you know, I am not one of those Mother’s who tries to be “friends†with her kids. But I think there is a middle ground between the friend/Mom and the Just because I said so/Mom. And I think I have found it. All I know is I love my relationship with my boys.
Dawn

kccc
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Post by kccc » Tue May 13, 2008 4:54 pm

Dawn wrote:I have 3 teenage sons and I find if they eat 3 good meals they don't go looking for snacks. And they only ask for dessert once in awhile. Thank God they are naturally like their Dad. But when they were little they had tiny little appetites and I am sure they were truly hungry a few hours after sharing one Happy Meal between the three of them, so a snack was necessary. Just keep the snacks healthy. I don't think most kids reach for carrot sticks or apple slices if they aren't really hungry. Cookies and candy are another story.

And here is my 2 cents on making them eat what's in front of them. I think it might be a better approach to be a little more flexible with small children when it comes to expecting them to eat what you put in front of them. Of course they have pickier pallets when they are small and catering to their every whim isn't a good idea. But I remember feeling very insignificant as a child when my folks didn't care that I didn't like meat loaf, they just expected me to eat it. And when I didn't they punished me by making me go to bed hungry. I think this is one of those "you gotta pick your battles with your kids" kinda things. Having dissention between you and your kids over their dislike of meatloaf isn't worth it. Our house rules are: 1. You have to try things to see if your taste has changed (and they know it has with a lot of things) 2. If they don't like something they must politely say "I don't really care for this" rather than "ewww this is yucky" 3. They will have to make due with whatever I throw together for their plan B meal and not complain, like a bowl of cereal or PB & J sandwich. Now that they are older they can scrounge up their own plan B meal, and they do, without complaining.

OK, so maybe that was more that 2 cents but I just wanted to share the view from the little kid in me that still remembers being made to feel like I was a bad kid because I didn’t care for a particular food. And just so you know, I am not one of those Mother’s who tries to be “friends†with her kids. But I think there is a middle ground between the friend/Mom and the Just because I said so/Mom. And I think I have found it. All I know is I love my relationship with my boys.
With you on avoiding those battles. I can remember sitting over congealing food... and I attribute some of my weight issues to being taught to over-ride my own hunger signals.

We do much the same routine as you- must try, must be polite (I think that's the hardest with my little guy!), then may have an alternate.

Dawn
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Post by Dawn » Tue May 13, 2008 5:39 pm

KCCC, I just think remembering what I felt like as a child has been helpful to me as a Mom. There are a lot of things that are non-negotiable and I have had to the pull the "because I said so" card. Although I do try to explain why I am doing something, where my folks never found that necessary. Being flexible when ever possible is also a good way to teach your kids how to treat others. My best friend growing up had a power hungry little tyrant of a Dad. Sure all 4 kids grew up fine, but they also moved as far away from Dad and Mom as they could. I don't want that.
Dawn

wosnes
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Post by wosnes » Wed May 14, 2008 12:51 am

Dawn wrote: And here is my 2 cents on making them eat what's in front of them. I think it might be a better approach to be a little more flexible with small children when it comes to expecting them to eat what you put in front of them. Of course they have pickier pallets when they are small and catering to their every whim isn't a good idea. But I remember feeling very insignificant as a child when my folks didn't care that I didn't like meat loaf, they just expected me to eat it. And when I didn't they punished me by making me go to bed hungry. I think this is one of those "you gotta pick your battles with your kids" kinda things. Having dissention between you and your kids over their dislike of meatloaf isn't worth it. Our house rules are: 1. You have to try things to see if your taste has changed (and they know it has with a lot of things) 2. If they don't like something they must politely say "I don't really care for this" rather than "ewww this is yucky" 3. They will have to make due with whatever I throw together for their plan B meal and not complain, like a bowl of cereal or PB & J sandwich. Now that they are older they can scrounge up their own plan B meal, and they do, without complaining.
I tried a variation on that - essentially what my parents did: The general rule for meals was you have two choices -- take it or leave it. You do have to try things. BUT -- let's say the main dish isn't a favorite. They can eat more of the side dishes. There is no plan B meal. It's not going to hurt to go without a main dish. Also no comments made by parents, no sitting at the table until a plate is cleaned and no withholding dessert until the plate is cleaned (if dessert is being offered).
Last edited by wosnes on Wed May 14, 2008 8:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
"That which we persist in doing becomes easier for us to do. Not that the nature of the thing itself has changed but our power to do it is increased." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"You are what you eat -- so don't be Fast, Easy, Cheap or Fake."

CrazyCatLady
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Post by CrazyCatLady » Wed May 14, 2008 1:24 am

One of the healthiest things that I learned as a parent was to set a bowl of fruit in the middle of the table. It started out as a large glass "fish" bowl full of apples. With kids in the house, it is a challenge to keep it full, or pretty, but at least I know that my kids are eating healthy!

My kids eat snacks. They don't permasnack, but they seem to be able to eat when hungry, and stop when full. I don't plan to try to change the snacking, but they are affected by my No S-ing, in good ways. I think that it is always good for a child to see their parent learning and growing (or shrinking)!
:D

phano
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Post by phano » Wed May 14, 2008 1:41 am

Maybe my comment on not being a short-order cook sounded a little harsher than what I actually meant. We get him to have at least a bite of everything, then he can have more of what he really liked, if he's still hungry. But if he is in one of those "I hate everything" moods, I can't cater to that. For a little while (like a few days) we would let him eat some alternate meal if he said he hated what was being served. But then he hated everything except hot dogs and kraft mac n' cheese (yuk!!). So maybe with another kid the 'plan B' meal would work, but it seemed like for my kid, this just encouraged pickyness. On the other hand, we don't make him sit at the table til he's cleaned his plate nor do we intentionally cook meals made up exclusively of things he hates. And occasionally my husband will make mac n' cheese and hot dogs, and I'm the one who has to eat a little bit of everything being served :)

My question about snacks came from a feeling I had that if my son had a late snack (say later than 4 o'clock) he would refuse dinner at 6:30, then throw a fit right before bedtime, saying he was hungry. I don't think it's good for him to have a totally separate eating schedule from the grown-ups, because eating is social. So I was wondering if other parents had found that their kid(s) needed a smallish early afternoon snack to get them to dinner or if it was really unnecessary. It sounds like most people find that a small, healthy snack about 3 pm is a good thing for most little kids.

phano
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Post by phano » Wed May 14, 2008 3:17 am

Now that I've thought a bit more, I realize that a lot of this advice is a good balance for me. I grew up with a pretty erratic schedule and little supervision over what I ate after school. I'm hoping to give my son better habits than I had. It sounds like a lot of people grew up with too much structure and too many rules, and that can give bad habits or bad feelings about food and eating, too. So thanks to everyone for sharing their experiences!

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alien-bear
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Post by alien-bear » Wed May 14, 2008 12:58 pm

I have good eaters. By that, I mean, they are adventurous, they will try anything I put in front of them. They eat when they are hungry, they stop when they are full. I have worked hard to not allow meal times to be a place to wage rebellion or look for attention through contrary behavior. I want food to be comforting and delicious but I never use it as a reward or to soothe a feeling. We have dessert once or twice a week. I bake healthy cookies and bars for lunch boxes. Life is not sugar-free.

I have skinny high energy kids as well. In fact my DD is about 5 feet tall (11 years old) and weighs less than 80 pounds. I am given a hard time about her percentile whatever at Dr's visits. But you know, she eats huge meals and lets me know if she needs more. She OFTEN requests seconds. She will probably grow 8 inches in the next 4 years so she gets all the food she needs.


We do an after-school snack everyday, it is always fruits or vegetables and some kind of protein. I buy the big veggie platters at Sam's Club on Fridays and that is there go to snack over the week. I make hummus and healthy "dips", I have chunks of cheese and nut butters around for them as well.

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