Reducing snacking

Oh, we're done with all that vegetable-steaming and mess, our children are cutlery-wielding, spaghetti-chomping angels... at least some of the time.

Re: Reducing snacking

Postby Popsie » 03 Jul 2012, 21:45

We did have a bit of a problem where all midge wanted was snacks. She would eat very little (if anything) at mealtimes saying she was not hungry, and ask for snacks 5mins later. So now, as long as she sits and tries some of her food at mealtimes, she can snack however much she wants afterwards. I offer fruit, yogurts, cheesy crackers, dried fruit, breadsticks and Hummous.... (and cheese but she won't eat it as a snack only on pasta/ pizza etc). It's been a bit if a battle to get her to eat with us at mealtimes as she would rather play/ watch tv/ draw etc. especially if she has had a snack so not actually properly hungry. That's why we don't have snack preceding a mealtime. 30 mins before a meal is the latest she's allowed (and then only if I've starved her for the whole afternoon abd she's obviously starving! :oops:

I know what others are saying about calories in snacks being important and who cares if they are healthy?! Whilst I agree in principle, I need for midge to sit down with us at mealtimes and if reducing snacks was a necessary step to achieve this, then I'd do it. If your LO still has meals regardless if snacking, i wouldn't bother changing anything.
Blw was never just about eating what your body needed and how much. For me, it was also about enjoying shared mealtimes and eating dinner together.
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Re: Reducing snacking

Postby TeakettleSlim » 03 Jul 2012, 21:58

@louisianablue2001, don't get me started about eating at grandma's! We're finishing up a 2 week visit now and I think they think I've lost my mind not wanting her to have cookies (is this the same as 'homebakes?) for a snack and then cake at dinner and now cutting back on cheese too and making her wait if she wants a snack right before dinner! They're pretty cooperative, but old habits die hard.

Anyway, you lot have been pretty persuasive and I think rather than do anything too restrictive, I'll just try to be better about offering fruit and veg or other fresh, natural foods for snacks, but not too close to dinner. Still think I've got to cut back on the cheese, though, for the sake of balance. You wouldn't believe how much cheese we eat. Seriously.

Heidi, if cold turkey doesn't work (mmm, turkey...) you might also try letting them choose one of their usual snacks and giving something healthy along with it like fruit or veg (I know, fruit next to a milky way hasn't got a chance, but still!). And then rotating among snacks so they don't have the same thing every day. Maybe limit Milky Way to once or twice a week?
Last edited by TeakettleSlim on 05 Jul 2012, 23:48, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Reducing snacking

Postby shye » 03 Jul 2012, 22:13

We recently got to the point where E would ask for a snack whilst eating his breakfast :scream so I have started limiting them... I simply can't afford to have him constantly eating!

Getting him to only eat at the table has helped... And I've started saying "if you're still hungry in 10 minutes" ... As well as having cut off times.
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Re: Reducing snacking

Postby camper » 03 Jul 2012, 22:18

I'm another one not persuaded by the blog's arguments, I'm afraid. We're far from paleolithic eaters, but I am of the opinion that human beings have evolved to eat small frequent meals, not restrict calories to a couple of big meals a day. We also haven't evolved to be sedentary and eat highly processed foods with a high sugar and saturated fat content. The environment we now live in is far from what our bodies were designed for and pretty obesogenic. For this reason, I think teaching kids to eat when they are hungry, not because "it's that time" is probably a better approach, and for active children (and probably adults too) frequent healthy snacks are no bad thing. We also don't have chocolate, crisps or sweets in the house, partly because I don't think they add anything to our diets, and also because I have absolutely no self-control and once I've started I don't stop. Snacks in our house include fruit, veg sticks, dried fruit, nuts, crackers with cheese/ guacamole/ hummus/ vegemite, breadsticks and yoghurt. We do sometimes have cakes, but it'll be homemade things like banana bread, apple muffins or carrot cake, which I make without any sugar. I don't restrict snacks because I'm happy that MJ gets plenty of exercise and asks for food because he's hungry.
The idea of claiming that "in X country, everybody eats/ does Y and they are all Z" is fraught with problems. From what I remember of a couple of summers spent with a French family as a kid (the dreaded French exchange!) we did eat snacks - I recall eating fresh bread after we'd brought it home from the boulangerie, lots of fresh fruit, and a fairly substantial afternoon "snack" (that usually resembled a small meal) because we didn't eat dinner until about 9pm.
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Re: Reducing snacking

Postby twilightfan » 03 Jul 2012, 22:44

I don't limit snacks either but try to offer healthy options. This is not always easy when we go to visit daddy at his workshop & the customary biscuits are on his workbench... it's the first thing my DS asks for when we go there now. I also found out that the young girl he watches Peppa Pig with for a while with gives him chocolate biscuits (!) but I've knocked that on the head.

If you think your LO is eating too much cheese then I think you are right to want to regulate it but definitely don't restrict healthy snacks and as others have said just make sure you don't allow any snacks too close to mealtimes. FWIW, too much bread has been an issue for us & we have had phases (because I've got back from work late+tired boy+hungry boy) quick meals such as beans on toast or egg on toast. I've got to grips with it now but it will probably happen again... that's life sometimes I guess.
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Re: Reducing snacking

Postby TPM » 04 Jul 2012, 08:07

It sounds to me as though your issue is really just with the cheese, so you need to be making sure you offer a variety of different foods and not get caught in the trap of offering one thing often because you know it will get eaten. Its not so much about the snacks by the sound of it. And you sound totally aware of this anyway.
DD1 05/08, DD2 01/10 & DD3 04/12
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Re: Reducing snacking

Postby Heidi » 04 Jul 2012, 15:46

Thanks TPM and everyone for your advice.

Thom and I had a chat today about how we need to eat lots of healthy food, not junk all the time, and I suggested he has 1 junk snack and all the rest are healthy...he said "NO, because we've got loads of junk in the cupboard that we need to get rid of!!!" so I guess going cold turkey is out of the question!
So, we agreed that they will have one junk snack a day, all the rest will be healthy. He also agreed taht they won't have snacks too close to meal times.
I told him i was really frustrated by them not eating their meals, as they ask for things and then refuse to eat them so they are being wasted. He then suggested that at mealtimes I put a selection of dinner/fruit/veg out for them to help themselves to, and this worked tonight, so fingers crossed!
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Re: Reducing snacking

Postby TeakettleSlim » 05 Jul 2012, 23:12

@TPM, I think you're basically right. But I think cheese has become a problem in large part because it's her go-to snack, and I was letting her decide what to eat as well as when, creating a self-reinforcing cycle of cheese.

By the way, I saw today that Dina of It's Not About Nutrition noticed our conversation here (I didn't tell her! I swear! Probably discovered through the miracle of Google Alerts), and has a new blog post on this specific topic in response:

http://itsnotaboutnutrition.squarespace ... emand.html
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Re: Reducing snacking

Postby KateGladTidings » 05 Jul 2012, 23:37

Interesting...in the last para, she refers to us as "parent led weaning". Freudian slip?! I'm still not convinced by her points, cause there's not a lot of evidence backing them up. They are just bullet points...
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Re: Reducing snacking

Postby jvnt » 06 Jul 2012, 03:09

:-D there you lot go being controversial again! Seems like there's a massive range of what can be understood by 'snacking on demand'. I think it's a good point that the vast majority of what people identify as snacks are horribly unhealthy and should not be eaten on a daily basis. Also, if mine is any guide, a toddler will demand approximately a million different things in any given day he doesn't get food every time he asks for it any more than we go to the airport and get on an aeroplane every time he asks for it!

I haven't had experience of him just asking for a narrow range of foods although he does go through phases of one type of thing or another and he definitely doesn't particularly ask for the undesirable type of snacks, he can repeatedly ask for an apple with as much enthusiasm as he does for cake but I guess that could be a personality/taste or an age thing.

So the upshot of all this I think is unless there is a problem like a very skewed diet, too much cheese like TKS's example, not eating at mealtimes etc then I reckon if it ain't broke then don't fix it.

Slightly off topic but on the same lines, we've needed to cut down tv watching after some excessive watching after baby dragon was born but hadn't done that well so I decided to relax about it and lo and behold after a few of weeks of more or less 'tv on demand' he hasn't asked for it once in the last three days, no screen time at all. I do think this applies to types of food as well - if it is forbidden then it becomes that much more desirable - for a nearly three year old anyway.
Last edited by jvnt on 06 Jul 2012, 12:46, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Reducing snacking

Postby KateGladTidings » 06 Jul 2012, 08:24

jvnt wrote: I reckon if it ain't broke then don't fix it.
if it is forbidden then it becomes that much more desirable - for a nearly three year old anyway.


These two lines are the key for me, really! If you have fruit etc available for a 3yo to help himself to when he wants, then he fills up on that, rather than having a mid-morning sugar crash and demanding cake. I find that Roo eats cake if it's available and fruit if it's available. I just think that denying him cake when others are having it makes it into an issue. Better to just not have it at home (or hidden where only Mummy can find it..check my food issues out!) And not quibble if they want to eat fruit all day at home.
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Re: Reducing snacking

Postby roseyposey » 06 Jul 2012, 08:28

None of us are feeding 'on demand' with meals, we all do breakfast, lunch and supper, usually at set times, or at least roughly set times.. Why on earth should snacks be any different -they could just be mid morning snack and mid afternoon snack? If they are offered these meals and snacks at these regular intervals, surely they shouldn't be THAT hungry between these times, and if they are it shouldn't be that long till the next installment!

Assuming the snacks are healthy I dont see any problem with offering two snacks a day. The rest of the time we like to forget all about food, otherwise the day becomes a blur of cooking and clearing up!

WHY OH WHY does the MIL always give them cake just before she drops them back for supper (with smirk on her face)!! grrrrrr.

Finally I jst have to say, Alex was with the childminder on tuesday (who is not the most health conscious and makes admittedly homemade but lots of sugary snacks, cakes etc) and had two helpings of chocolate cake plus ice lollies for another childs birthday and frankly was a pain up the back side for the entire day wednesday... By thurs he was back to his normal calm self but seriously wednesday he was like a child possesed! Couldn't believe the difference..
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Re: Reducing snacking

Postby KateGladTidings » 06 Jul 2012, 16:42

roseyposey wrote:None of us are feeding 'on demand' with meals, we all do breakfast, lunch and supper, usually at set times, or at least roughly set times.. Why on earth should snacks be any different -they could just be mid morning snack and mid afternoon snack? If they are offered these meals and snacks at these regular intervals, surely they shouldn't be THAT hungry between these times, and if they are it shouldn't be that long till the next installment!

But why don't we do meals on demand? Isn't it practicality rather than principle? Even her blog response starts with "in an ideal world, we'd all eat as and when we felt hungry" (sorry, not a direct quote as am on phone). I'm happy to demand feed meals to an extent. The other day. Roo asked for lunch at 11 and it was a cold lunch, so all ready to go, and he had it. What would be gained from sitting around for an hour till he was allowed it? Hunger varies day by day and I trust him to tell me when he needs food. Essentially what her response is saying is that my 2-month old is more capable of managing her appetitie than my 3 yo. How does that make sense?!
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Re: Reducing snacking

Postby TeakettleSlim » 06 Jul 2012, 19:18

Kate wrote:Essentially what her response is saying is that my 2-month old is more capable of managing her appetitie than my 3 yo. How does that make sense?!


Well, one way it may make sense is that toddlers obviously are a lot more cognitively developed than infants, and part of what happens cognitively in the course of growing into adults is that they begin to be subject to the same kinds of perceptual biases as adults. It's not just training that leads to some less-than-ideal eating habits, but the fact that we rely on perceptual cues rather than internal cues about how much and when to eat. Brian Wansink's work (presented for a lay audience in "Mindless Eating") documents a number of these-- how much we eat depends on how large the container is, how big the plate is, how convenient it is to obtain the food, the variety of foods present, and so on. I can supply specific references if you'd like.

I think jvnt nailed it when she said that there's a wide range of what is understood as "snacking on demand". For me, wanting lunch an hour early because you woke up early or have been playing hard or are in a growth spurt or whatever, would not count as an example. That seems totally reasonable. But I think sometimes toddlers can get bored, see something out on the counter or something else that gets them thinking about their favorite food, and request it not necessarily because they're hungry but because it sounds good and they are looking for something to do. Routine can also be part of it. For a long time I was in the habit of giving Biscuit snacks as we went for a walk with her in the stroller-- then she began to always request them when in the stroller, even if she had just had breakfast. I would end up bringing 3-4 different things with us everywhere so she could not only snack, but have almost whatever she wanted (from the usual menu of healthy snacks). Certain situations give rise to habits. Being in the stroller made her think about eating, whether she was hungry or not. This is something else that adults do (eat in certain situations-- automatically when you get home, in front of TV, etc), and it's not ridiculous to think that as a baby learns about daily schedules and routines, eating could become dissociated from hunger as hunger frequency changes with age but the routine does not.

And while I sympathize with the importance you place on not being overly restrictive about food (I'm a BLWer, after all!), sometimes it may not hurt for a toddler to begin to learn a bit about delayed gratification. To me there's a big difference between saying "dinner is in an hour, please be patient and wait and you can eat all you like then!" and saying at mealtime (or set snack time) "There, I think you've had enough, that's all you get!". The former is part of life that they need to learn to cope with, while the latter is the damaging type of restrictivenes that leads to all sorts of problems down the road.
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Re: Reducing snacking

Postby Heidi » 06 Jul 2012, 19:45

TeakettleSlim wrote: But I think sometimes toddlers can get bored, see something out on the counter or something else that gets them thinking about their favorite food, and request it not necessarily because they're hungry but because it sounds good and they are looking for something to do. Routine can also be part of it.

And while I sympathize with the importance you place on not being overly restrictive about food (I'm a BLWer, after all!), sometimes it may not hurt for a toddler to begin to learn a bit about delayed gratification. To me there's a big difference between saying "dinner is in an hour, please be patient and wait and you can eat all you like then!" and saying at mealtime (or set snack time) "There, I think you've had enough, that's all you get!". The former is part of life that they need to learn to cope with, while the latter is the damaging type of restrictivenes that leads to all sorts of problems down the road.


I agree with both of these points wholeheartedly - the first is exactly where we have slipped to recently :( Although Thom has taken on board the "1 junk snack a day" rule very well :)

I am working on delaying snacks when meals are coming soon, and I thought Thom was on board, but dp came home tonight and made a sandwich for himself at 3pm. Obviously Thom wanted a sandwich too, which he had. Then he refused any tea, but asked for a snack half an hour later. Then he asked for another snack, then another. DP got cross with him for eating constantly ( :scream )

I asked dp if he had made Thom any tea, and his response? "He doesn't want any. I can't force him to eat"
AAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHH! Totally destroyed this weeks work on snacks being in between meals, meals being for filling up on.

And breathe, and start again on Monday (dp is in charge of food most of this weekend as I am out :D )
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