When the kids snacking on things here or there turns into constant snacking and to all-day-long grazing, it can get old pretty quickly.
While some of our kids ask for permission before having anything to eat, our other children just walk into the pantry and grab a snack anytime they feel the urge.
Either way… it is ALL. DAY. LONG
The problem with all-day snacking:
1. They fill up on empty carbs leaving little room for healthy foods.
2. Or- they eat so much during the day that they aren’t hungry for lunch or dinner.
3. An hour later, they are hungry because they didn’t eat enough at meal-time.
To combat this question, I have started saying… YES! (I know… you are thinking “what?!”)
Yep… I say yes, but there is a catch. We laid ground rules around snacks and it’s been the best solution.
Our solution to all-day snacking
When our kids were younger, our snacking rules were different. Now that they are all old enough to make good choices, I let them have that freedom, while still sticking to certain boundaries.
I admit that I really debated some of those great ideas that I had seen on Pinterest, like having everyone pack a little container with what they want for the day, but I knew that we wouldn’t stick to it.
The beauty of being home all of the time right now, even if it is temporary, is that we have more flexibility. I wanted to find something that worked easily for us.
So, we came up with a few “Snack Rules.”
1. MEALS: Stick To A Schedule For Meal Times
I have learned, the hard way, that when kids are hungry, they become tired, grumpy, unfocused, and inattentive (like most adults when they are hungry or when they are working on a new weight loss diet. ) When their blood sugar drops or they just feel hungry, they don’t act like themselves.
When our kids were younger (babies, toddlers, and preschoolers) we had set times for meals and snacks. We had a snack schedule and a meal schedule.
Now that we have older kids, we only have set times for meals. Snack time can be whenever they need a snack. It not only works to keep their bodies regulated but also to keep us all on a semi-consistent schedule & routine.
We have breakfast, lunch, and dinner around the same time every day. Of course, some days don’t work out as planned, but for the most part, we stick to our times.
The beauty of eating the same time each day is that our kids become hungry around those times. Their bodies have adapted to those mealtimes. Around the same time every day, they start asking questions like, “What’s for dinner?” 🙂
2. SNACKS in between meals must be fruits or vegetables.
Not only does this help us to raise healthy eaters and combat the constant snacking, but it also encourages our picky eaters to try new fruits and vegetables when they get hungry.
They don’t have to ask for permission to have a snack during the day because during the day if they want to snack, it has to be fruits or vegetables (fresh fruits, frozen fruits, dried fruits… they all work). Nuts (almonds, cashews) and hummus are fine, too.
We went through a lot of examples of snack foods and they understood. They’ve been doing great with healthy eating. It’s been a great way to get our kids to eat more fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet. They still get their healthy fat servings with dinner or with lunch (Ex: peanut butter or almond butter sandwich).
When they want crunchy carbs or other snacks (popcorn, pretzels, veggie straws), they can have it with lunch or in place of their dessert after dinner.
If they want a snack between mealtimes, they need to stick to things like fruit, vegetables, almonds, or a snack made from those things.
3. Smoothies Make Great Snacks!
They are welcome to make smoothies anytime, too. We make them without added sugars.
We always have fresh and frozen fruit, veggies, avocadoes, etc. ready to go for smoothies, so they can just put some fruit into a blender with some ice & Vanilla Coconut-Almond milk (our favorite for smoothies) and blend.
We also make fruit bowls often with fruit, hemp seeds, and a splash of pea milk or coconut-almond milk.
To make it easier, we wash & prep all of the food as soon as we bring it into the house. This means there is no excuse to not make their own healthy snack- it’s there and it’s ready to eat or use.
We keep squeezies on hand, too (like no-sugar-added applesauce pouches), in case they want a quick snack. They know that they can have these things.
4. Another Option: Give Specific Choices
Another idea, which works especially well if your children are younger, is to give them more specific options that are pre-planned. I saw this post on Facebook last year and I thought it was an easy alternative.
If they are hungry, they pick from the options in the containers.
5. Dessert Comes After They’ve Eaten Dinner
Daytime snacks are fruits & vegetables because I wanted to know that they were not filling up on empty calories. They are welcome to have all of the fruits and vegetables that they want during the day.
On the same note, I am not opposed to dessert. In fact, I grew up eating a small cup of ice cream every single night after dinner. Our kids have grown up with the same habit. 😉 haha!
We just take a small coffee cup and add a scoop or two of ice cream or frozen yogurt. It’s not a big serving, but it’s just enough to be a treat at the end of the day. 🙂
If they have made good snacking choices in the day, and they’ve eaten enough of their dinner, they can have a small serving of dessert after dinner.
Life is about balance.