Posted by: Hannah | 02/06/2013

the end of snacks

Recently, the lovely Not Mary P wrote a post about snacking, and how in her professional opinion kids do entirely too much of it.

Not just unhealthy snacks – snacks of any kind. Twice-daily snacks, mid-morning and mid-afternoon. Snacks in the car, in the stroller, in the high chair before dinner.

It’s her opinion that all this snacking means that children are never actually allowed to get hungry, even for a little while. Makes sense to me.

So I decided to try the experiment here, with my gang.

It’s been a week now and I am gobsmacked at the results.

  • the kids didn’t whine for snack after the first day
  • on the rare occasions when they do ask, I just say “well, you’ll be nicely ready for lunch!” and they agree!
  • no one mentions feeling hungry until maybe 30 minutes before lunch, and even then, they’re barely peckish
  • the babies are napping better
  • they are pooping on a more predictable schedule (well, except Louis, natch)

And my absolute favourite results:

  • I can’t speak to the other kids, but my own are eating their dinner much better than they used to
  • everyone is eating their lunch with a minimum of fuss & complaining, and no cajoling at all.

I won’t go on and on about it – Mary said it all first, and said it best. But I can report that at least in our house, we are going to keep on with the no-snack regime, by and large. Certainly it will not be a scheduled part of every day, anymore.

***

Ironically, as I was writing this post, it was a preschool day for Ron. He’s there from 9AM – noon. They have a snack provided by parents in turn every day at 10:45 – or, to put it another way, only an hour and a bit before lunch. Today they had shortbread cookies, apple juice, Bits ‘N Bites, and dried cranberries.

How much do you want to bet most of the kids didn’t eat lunch when they got home?

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Responses

  1. Isn’t it great? That’s been pretty much my experience, too: no one’s whining for it, and everyone is eating better, with no fussing (on their parts) or encouragement/cajoling (on mine). IMAGINE THE FREEDOM!

    • It’s the total lack of pushback I’m getting at lunch time that has sold me. They aren’t eating like starved chimps, or anything, but they are eating steadily & seriously. It’s a beautiful thing. I’m even getting time to eat my lunch while they’re eating, because I set everything up and for a good fifteen minutes it’s just chewing & quiet talking. LOVE.

  2. Once they turned 2.5/3ish, my kids didn’t snack. They ate three meals. And generally ate well. Day home last year I did Afternoon snack b/c most of them weren’t going to be eating dinner till 6:30 or so and since no one really napped they played hard all afternoon. Worked for us. At my preschool our littles can choose when to snack. A couple are snacking by 8:45 (we strongly suspect there was no breakfast) and many of the ones who do have their snack eat the rest of it in the car on the way home and call it lunch. Their snacks are HUGE, often what I would have for lunch.
    And at our preschool, as a side note, we are snack police. We send home unhealthy snacks and then if it happens more than once we talk to the parents about it. No dunkaroos, no pudding, no waxy “fruit” snacks. We get away with it because we blame it on our Montessori philosophy. If I had known I could boss parents this much I totally would have tried it in day home. šŸ™‚

    • I tell all of my clients during the interview process – and it’s in my contract, too – that unhealthy snacks or treats will be left in the lunchbag. I do cop out slightly by explaining that it’s unfair to the kids who might not have a treat in their lunches. It works out well, for the most part; really egregious stuff almost never shows up, except for the week after Halloween. šŸ™‚

  3. This is interesting. I had more or less reached the same conclusion myself about my kids. Daughter is 3.5 and in daycare and has snacks twice a day plus lunch. They are healthy snacks like veggies and milk, which is great, but still a lot for kids not running around tons. I stopped giving her the option of snacks on the drive home and she eats dinner without hassle for the most part now.

    Son is 10 and STILL allowed snack time in class and after school care. I had stopped packing the classroom snacks and all was fine. Then last month his activity level went through the roof due to the desire to play two sports this season. I was just commenting to a friend last week that evidently being vigorously athletic for between 5-6 hours a week is the amount of activity my son needs to eat all meals and all snacks in their entirety without complaint. So, I’ve started packing him a classroom snack again. When this insane level of activity dies down, I plan to go back to no snacks for him as well. The snacking just kind of crept up on me with both kids. I think it’s the same with lots and lots of parents.

    • Oh look, it totally crept up on me, too. When they’re under a year, they eat on demand, right? And they eat ALL THE TIME, because their tummies are so small. I didn’t even question how much I was feeding them as snacks until Mary pointed it out. Now, if the activity level is high then yes, I’d definitely up the calorie intake… but especially now, when it’s been too cold to go outside most days and the littles aren’t getting crazy amounts of exercise, it’s just too much food.

      This would definitely need to be adjusted for older kids. Pre-teens and teens, especially active ones, eat like crazy.

  4. My kids get morning snack at school, but we don’t have after school snack unless they are going to karate, which is at 5. Usually we eat dinner by 5:30, and they are out of school at 3:40, so no need, really. If they are STARVING, they can eat their dinner veggies early. I cut up veggies for our dinner around 4 or 4:30, and they are allowed to eat them at that time, or wait until dinner.

    • I used to do the veggies thing, too! I don’t care if you eat your veggies as ingredients or in the meal, as long as you eat them. I don’t get the opportunity to as much these days, because we cook most of the week’s meals ahead of time, but I still make sure that we always have their favourite snacking veggies on hand if we have some kind of snack emergency.

  5. I totally agree. I slowed down on auto-snacking after reading one of those books about raising babies in France. It made sense to me then and has been working a treat.

    Except at daycare, her lunch often goes untouched and I think this is down to the 2 snacks she gets there. That is frustrating but what can I do?

    Fortunately at home, Lucy doesnt even ask me for snacks anymore. And if I leave the house, the most food I will take with me is an apple and maybe some nuts.

    • I still remember picking Harry up at daycare one night at 5:30 and finding him & all the other kids aged 12 – 18 months strapped into highchairs being fed limitless Arrowroot cookies by the owner’s school-aged daughter. He didn’t eat supper for months.

  6. […] gets flung on the floor while she shakes her head emphatically. She loves snack food, so the new snackless regime has been hardest on her; her mom is a big believer in feeding kids continually all day (and all […]


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