WFMW: Backward Edition

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This week’s Works for Me Wednesday is a “backward edition” in which I get to ask for your tips and suggestions.  It’s very timely, because I’ve just been contemplating something at my house that I haven’t exactly decided how I want to handle yet.  It has to do with kids and eating.  My kids, especially my younger two are not breakfast eaters.  They don’t like to eat for at least an hour after they get up.  However, that first meal seems to open the floodgates.

From lunch on, my kids want to “snack.”  All.  Day.  Long.

It drives me crazy because they’re constantly asking, “Mom, can I have a snack?”  And, they act like they’re simply going to die of hunger if we’re within 30 minutes to an hour of a meal and I tell them no.  I thought about using a “snack jar” like I’ve seen on Super Nanny where we put in a certain number of snacks per day and when they’re gone, they’re gone.  The only thing about that is, they often like to snack on things that should remain in the fridge — anything from leftovers to fruits and veggies.  I don’t want to discourage that in favor of things like snack cakes and Fruit Roll-Ups.

My other idea was to use a snack chart where they could check off eat time they had a snack and when all the boxes were checked, snacking would be done.  I was going to set it up the way the bodybugg website does my snacks — an AM snack, a PM snack and a late-night snack. That might work okay, but I’m certainly open to other suggestions.

How have you handled endless snack requests at your house?

Visit Kristin at We Are That Family for more Works for Me Wednesday tips (or to offer you suggestions this week).

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  1. We have set snack times…10 a.m. and 3 p.m. I figure after eating breakfast around 8, lunch at noon, and with dinner coming somewhere around 5 or 6 they won't die during the two hour span b/t meals and snacks. If they get really relentless in their begging I offer uber healthy choices like apples, carrots, or bananas. I know if they take me up on it, they're really hungry. : )

  2. My boys would eat all day if i let them!!!

    My solution. We have 3 meals and 2 snacks. If they choose not to eat at meal time then there is no eating until snacks. I have a chart on my fridge that lists snack times. I can count on Luke screaming he is hungry about an hour after breakfast or lunch all the way to the next meal. He is allowed to have one snack. This snack cannot be junkfood or a meal-like snack. he can have crackers, peanuts, or fruits. This way he gets more full and doesn't consume a ton of sugar. After watching the biggest loser with Luke we have really started talking about not over eating and eating more healthy foods than junk.

  3. I have grazers and use the muffin tin approach. Each kid has his own tin with spaces for 12 muffins. I put a different snack in each spot. I put in lots of fruits and veggies like grapes, apple slices, carrot sticks, celery, olives, pickles, etc. that are okay sitting out. I also do things like wheat thins,nuts,granola, and dried fruits. I give them one space of something fun like candy. I buy the kind I don't enjoy eating, like candy corn! 🙂 I only use these during the school day so we don't have to stop every half an hour to go eat. Once the tray is empty, no more snacks until after school. I'm interested in other's tips, too.

  4. My kids get snacks only at certain times of day, so they have come to expect that that's when they get a snack. They have one in the afternoon — around 3 or 3:30 pm. Then, they often get a small snack about an hour before bed, but not always. If we've eaten a particularly late dinner, then they don't.

    Maybe try easing into scheduled times?

  5. My daughter is a snacker too – if she's at home, you can guarantee she's in the pantry or refrigerator, looking for something to nibble. It's hard for me because I don't want to deprive her if she really is hungry, but I also don't want to let her eat just to eat, which she has a tendency to do. She's not overweight, but she's at the very top of the "normal" weight range for her height, and it wouldn't take too many extra snacks to tip her over. I'm constantly struggling to keep her healthy without giving her an eating disorder.

    One thing I try to do is have her wait 15 or 20 minutes between when she asks for a snack and when she gets it (assuming she's eaten pretty recently and I know she isn't starving). Sometimes she gets busy with something else in the interim and forgets she wanted to eat – not that often, though. Or I'll tell her that if she wants a snack it has to be something that isn't sweet (apple, carrot, toast). She's got a serious sweet tooth – we baked a cake last week, and for the four days it took to finish it, all she could think about was the cake in the fridge, when she could have another piece, how big a piece it could be, etc. I think we'll only be baking Easy-Bake Oven-size cakes from now on!

  6. My daughter is the PICKIEST eater in the whole world. She's also more of a grazer than an eater, so I don't want to deny her food when she truly may be hungry. So….I try to keep healthy snacks around and get a little bit of protein in each one. Peanut butter on celery (God forbid you put raisins on it though for ants on a log!), carrots, rice cakes, etc. I did the snack jar too with only a certain amount of snacks each day, but I'd end up giving in when the jar was empty because I didn't want to listen to her complain that her stomach was simply digesting itself! Good luck!

  7. Let them? If they are eating healthy food what difference does it make what they call or when they eat it? Some days my daughter will snack her way through the day. If we are going out (which is most days) I pack her lunch box and she just eats out of that all day from the time we leave the house until dinner time.

  8. I have it where during school time in the morning that we have a snack time at 10. No other snacks after our break time until after lunch. My son is a huge snacker.

  9. After he has had his breakfast, our son can have one snack before lunch (if there is time) and one snack in the afternoon before dinner (if there is enough time before dinner when he asks for one). Sometimes he will also get a small snack after dinner. That's it. He knows he may get one snack between each meal, if he has finished the meal before. He also knows that all his snacks must be approved. We do have a snack shelf he can choose from usually though too.

  10. Well, I don't think you're going to like my solution but…I let them snack. I simply don't usually provide snacks around here that I wouldn't want them to eat. That's good for me and the size of my backside and good for them. That means no chips, fruit juice snacks, delightful Little Debbie treats – you get the idea. I think being able to eat when you're hungry is one of the great advantages of homeschooling. So, if they want a piece of fruit, some heated-up leftovers, or a small bowl of cereal – they can go for it and serve themselves. My boys rarely eat a big breakfast, although my daughter does. They all know better than to ask for a snack when we are doing our work together in our current unit study or working with me one on one (because at that point, it's a disruption and I just say no). But, they do have time when they are working on their independent work when they can have a snack while working on tricky math problems!

    All three of my children are competitive swimmers with my oldest practicing 14 hours a week so I really don't need to worry about their caloric intake – they truly need the calories with their workout schedule. But, even before they were in such a physically demanding sport, I had the same approach – lots of healthy snacks won't hurt anybody.


  11. My son only gets an afternoon snack, between 2 and 3. I am sure to tell him that if he is hungry, he should have eaten more at his last meal.

  12. the very best thing that has worked for me in this area is setting the time for snacks. then it isn't like I am always saying no. I just say "what time is it?" and they know. it took about a week to get them to stop asking regularly, and after that they asked every once in a while for food inbetween, but really, they know snack time is 10 and 3. no exceptions. good luck 🙂

  13. I have three who were also in the habit of snacking all day long for different reasons. Our daughter was just standing in front of the fridge because she was bored. She gets that from me. She's almost 17 and not going to grow any taller, but she fluctuates back in forth by about 10 pounds all the time. We both decided that when we felt like we wanted something, we would first go find something else to do and then wait about 30 minutes. Usually, we weren't really hungry at all and could certainly make it to dinner time with maybe an apple to hold us over.

    My boys are 12 and in the midst of growth spurts. One of them seems to be gaining an inch a month! They were asking for food because they really were hungry ALL day long. I just made sure to buy healthy things and let them go for it. They can consume some mega amounts of peanut butter, fruits, veggies, nuts, pretzels, yogurt, etc. One thing they like is making their own "smoothies" by throwing anything they can find into the blender. I think we're going to have to take out a second mortgage when they become teenagers and really do some growing!

  14. We generally eat every 1.5-3 hours, based on the idea that eating several small "meals" a day is a great habit to set up for life and to avoid overeating because you're "famished." If I had younger kids I would love to use that muffin tin idea; as it is, my kids are 9 and up and old enough to find their own snacks. We don't have a lot of junk in the house so they mostly eat popcorn, fruit, cheese sticks, etc. (If I had chips and cookies, they would for sure eat those first.) They usually get a sweet item for bedtime snack, like ice cream or a cookie, if we have any.

    I figure if they are eating healthy foods throughout the day, what does is matter if they eat it all at "lunch" or if they graze–as long as snacking doesn't disrupt our school day. They have to wait for a break in lessons to get a snack.

  15. My solution is to cut them off at 4 pm so they'll eat dinner. I also keep a dishpan full of fruit in the fridge, and they are free to pick a banana, apple, etc. any time.

    Have you tried a muffin tin? Get some tins, fill each cup with a snack (leftover, cheese cubes, whatever) and that's their snack tray. You can keep it in the fridge for them.

  16. We also have set snack times. After I had my first baby and the light dawned that "Hey, I can anticipate his needs and not wait for hysteria", I began to have a regular feeding schedule. And even after we moved from breastfeeding to real food, I kept pretty much the same schedule. My son is now 5 and doesn't seem to need many snacks, but my 3 year old daughter still needs the afternoon one. She gets whiny and naughty if she skips it.

    If they get hungry between set food times, they hear something like "Well, you should have eaten your breakfast like I told you," or "it will be snack time soon"

    If the whining is unbearable and I feel that they are truly hungry and can't wait, they get a glass of milk.

  17. Plus, they never get anything too junky. I'm kind of a food nazi. We have cake on birthdays and cookies at Christmas, but other than that, all snacks are fairly healthy. They get water, real juice, or milk to drink. I try to avoid processed foods and talk to them about listening their bodies to know when they are full. I have a lot of food/weight issues, and am REALLY trying not to pass them on. Eating real foods makes it easier to know when you are hungry and when you are full because you don't have all those chemicals (hello High Fructose Corn Syrup) messing with your brain.

  18. I pretty much let them snack (on healthy things) anytime unless it's within an hour before dinner on until bedtime. I don't want them digesting as they try to go to sleep, thus I want them to eat a decent dinner, thus we don't snack right before dinner…
    But during the rest of the day I basically figure it's healthiest to eat when you're hungry and not when you're not. I think about how I nurse my babies on demand–their little tummies need food far more often than mine. Why should my toddler be expected to go as long as I do either?!

  19. If my kids get hungry (or at least say they are) and its not actually a meal time or snack time, they are allowed to have a smoothie (we make "green smoothies") or some fruit. But that's it. I tell them they allowed to have all of the fresh fruit & smoothies that they want. I'll never tell them no. But as for snack food and meals ~ there is a set time for those.

  20. You've already gotten lots of great tips, so I don't think I need to add any more.

    But, I had to laugh because I discussed this with another homeschool mom. Her older kids were occasionally taking classes at the community college and they said that was part of the biggest adjustment — having to stay seated and no snacking during class. 🙂

    I guess if that's the biggest adjustment we've been doing something right. 😉

  21. My kids like to graze too. So I make up a Monkey Platter, with fruit, nuts,veges, applesauce cups, cheese and crackers. They nibble on those throughout the day and still enjoy having lunch and dinner.

  22. I'm in the let them eat if it is good for them camp. So if they want fruit or veggies it a okay anytime until 30 minutes before a meal. Then they can wait and help me cook…LOL.

    We have set snack times between each meal and after dinner (10am, 3pm, 7pm) where I'll offer grains with cheese, fruit, or veggie, so that cuts down on requests, but I have at least one child (a boy) who grazes all day long on good food and still eats his meals.

    If it is good, healthy food, let them eat!

    Also, offer filling breakfasts like oatmeal and fruit, versus sugar cereal.

  23. my son does nothing but snack. he won't eat normal meals. so i stuff him full of cereal bars since they're good for him as well as a snackie he can run off with without asking.

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