*I wrote this about kids but these same rules apply to breaking adult snacking as well- at least it worked for me ! Here are a few pics of snacks on the go before we get into it :)
Do you ever find that your kids fill up on snacks and don't have any interest in meal times? I sure did! And then it dawned on me... if they know they can get snacks at any time why would they choose broccoli at dinner when they know they can get snack shortly after? Broccoli and company simply cannot compete with snacks and sweets!
I knew that in order to get my kids interested in trying new foods and eating dinner I would need to wipe out the snacks all together.
But what about healthy snacks like granola bars? Well, for me personally, if that was the only snack option, my youngest would make a fit for the granola bars. I decided to have no (packaged) snacks at all in the house for at least a month to stop the demands- best decision ever and wish I did it years ago! A few times of begging for a snack, showing them its not there any more and they were over it! A small but very game changing victory!
If my kids are hungry they can grab a fruit, some snap peas, carrots until about 1 hour before meal time. Ill make them a smoothie or a piece of toast but for the most part, I aim for minimal (1-2 times a day) snacking and implement sit down meal times. Once the kitchen is clean I am not making a mess anymore. Once my kids realized I was serious about this we got on the same page and life got much better and easier.
The way I see it is every time a child gets to decide when they eat, and what they eat, they are gaining control and dominance over you as a decision maker and parent. Every time you make these decisions you keep the control of a parent. If a kid is hungry, they can learn to wait 30-60 minutes. Its okay to feel hungry. Every time they wait they are learning patients (and building a better appetite). This practice of waiting and building patience (which happens every single day) adds up and I noticed my kids over all behavior was better, much better!
When we go out, I use to bring snacks to everything. In the car, on the beach etc. Now if I know we are going to the beach or running errands for ashort period of time like 1-2 hours- I bring water and maybe a few fruits with natural wrappers like bananas, grapes, oranges and apples. I prefer to go out to play, and go home hungry ready to eat dinner. At first they were bummed because they associated everything with snacks! "Wheres the snacks mom!! " After a week they were stoked on the new options!
If we are going to be gone longer, I make smoothies, pack more options, sandwiches, and if I have snack food, I put it in a separate area of the bag and don't show it until they are filled up real foods. If they see it, at least for especially my 3 year old, its all they want. If its not there, out of site out of mind.
I honestly feel that changing the habits of snacks has positively influenced my children's behavior in all aspects of life. They are more patient, less demanding and over all more polite. They look forward to meal time and seem to appreciate real food like never before. At first it feels like you are going against the grain but once those habits are replaced with new habits life takes a bit of an upgrade!
5 Tips That Helped Me Gain Control Over SNACKING!
1. You are the parent, you are in charge! Implement this belief into action.
2. Eat sit down family meals together regularly on a daily basis. ( My husband works crazy hours most of the time and this was a struggle area for me. Once I decided this is an area I need to control with or without my husband there it was not a stress. The kids needed it. I needed it. It was really a matter of realizing it was my responsibility and following through).
3. Get rid of all processed snacks until you gain a control or permanently out of your kitchen. New options, fruits, veggies, whole grain bread with nut butter, left over meals etc.
4. Notify your child that this is their snack and once its done there is no more eating until dinner time. *We lived in France for a year and no one but the tourists snack except at 4:30 pm it was like hunger pains went off on every kid on the play ground and the kids stop to have a little snack and then go back to play. There is a set time that the child expects to get something to eat.
5. Aim to create a joyful relationship with food and try to relax! When my kids cry and fussed for sugar I just smile and say 'nope, I decide buddy' put them in another room if they are making a scene and say, 'when you are done, you can come out and we can get back to having a good time'. I personally don't let crying get to me. Its too draining to feel anxiety. So I try to leave emotion out of any sort of disciple or confrontation. Makes life so much easier!! Kids like to know what to do and not to do! I have found that kids thrive on simple structure.
Anyway, I hope this is of help to anyone looking or needing to make a few changes! This is always an area I am working on and taking day by day. I hope you don't mind my personal rants or parenting beliefs. I know some people may disagree maybe with my methods but this is what I have found makes for peace, health and happiness in my home :) I would love to hear your thoughts, and if you have anything that works for you! We are all here to learn from each other and grow and I just love that sense of support we have together!
Hope all is good!