Simple steps can help control eating
Just as children need support when they learn to read, write or ride a bike, they need support learning to eat in moderation, especially during snack time. If you want to teach your children to snack and eat sweets in moderation, follow these six steps.
1. Children won’t be able to recognize how much they should eat at snack time if they don’t understand how hungry they are. Explain what hunger feels like and how to tell when feeling full, then ask how hungry they feel before every snack. This will help children connect hunger levels to the amount they choose to eat.
2. Our children must learn to trust their own constantly changing hunger and satiety cues, otherwise they may learn to habitually overeat. As Dina Rose says in her book “It’s Not About the Broccoli,” “even if it turned out, by some stroke of magic, that you do know how much your kids ought to eat, you still shouldn’t interfere. Teaching kids to trust your instincts rather than their own instincts prevents your children from learning how to self-regulate.”
3. Give them practice. Just as children need practice reading before they reach chapter books, and practice driving before they hit the roads alone, they need practice figuring out how much they should eat at any one time. By giving kids control over how much they eat at every meal and snack, you are giving them the moderation practice they need.
4. Set a specific snack time. Snack times should be designated between breakfast and lunch, between lunch and dinner and should be kept brief. After sitting down and enjoying a snack, your child should move to another activity and given plenty of time to rebuild an appetite before the next meal.
5. Create a refrigerator snack drawer full of foods such as hard-boiled eggs, blueberries, carrots and yogurt, and always have a bowl of fresh fruit on the counter. Also, create a snack drawer outside the refrigerator. Fill it with mostly healthy snacks such as applesauce, raisins and nutritious bars, but add a few less healthy items, such as leftover candy. Explain that at snack time, they may eat from either of these locations.
6. Set a family rule for sugary foods. Let’s say you allow one sugary food a day. Tell your children it is entirely up to them when to have that food each day. It could be during snack time, in a lunchbox or after dinner. Then place the sugary snacks next to the healthy snacks. Do this because a child who truly listens to their body might reach for the candy but then see the applesauce and decide that is what they really desire.