Earlier this month I wrote about hunger and how it's become culturally normal to [over] protect our children from feeling hungry. How do we do this? Snacks, snacks and more snacks. I'm looking forward to publishing my first guest post on the blog later this week. It is by Sally Kuzemchak of 'Real Mom Nutrition'-she'll be explaining 'snacktivism' - her challenge to US snack culture.
It's been really lovely to hear from readers of War & Peas - I always appreciate feed-back, positive or negative. The thing that my readers have overwhelmingly told me has brought about the greatest change in their families is my stance on snacking. It's this simple: If you practice EAF, if your child doesn't want the food you have served him, he can leave it, but there are no snacks or alternatives. Equally, if your child is not eating main meals and you are offering snacks, try cutting the snacks out.
Some parents are happy giving their child many small meals over the course of a day - they find that grazing works for them and their families. That's fine. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. What I am saying is that if you are concerned about your child's fussy eating and you want him to be eating three main meals a day, look closely at the snacks you offer.
My tips for cutting out snacks
- Make sure you introduce this change in a positive, non-punitive way. Explain gently that you are not having snacks any more because your child doesn't need them if he's not hungry at mealtimes.
- Be consistent. Once you've decided to stop offering snacks, you can't waver or you will find yourself embroiled in a power struggle.
- Cut snacks out gradually. If you offer a morning and an afternoon snack, try getting rid of the morning one for a few days, if you don't notice any change in your child's eating, drop the afternoon one too.
- Use a schedule. Offer snacks at consistent times so you can assess their impact on your child's eating. This will also allow your child to predict when food will be available, removing his motivation to pester you for snacks at other times of day.
I'd love to hear from anyone who has a picky eater and is offering snacks. Try cutting the snacks out for a week and see what impact it has on your child's eating. Let us know how you get on!