Are your kids snackers? Lexi would graze all day if I let her.
Do you find that your kids snack all day and then don’t eat at meal times? I was definitely experiencing this.
Snack foods marketed to children are awful! They’re high in sugar, refined carbs and other untold junk. I was horrified when I recently saw lunch box yoghurts that don’t need to be refrigerated. That’s not yoghurt, that’s a cocktail of sugar and chemicals.
In her book, French Kids Eat Everything, Karen Le Billon talks about how French children have four meals a day with no snacking in between. There’s a French proverb that sums up their attitude towards hunger: "Bon repas doit commencer par la faim". In other words, a good meal must start with hunger.
I recently implemented "French mealtimes" in our home. Lexi eats breakfast at 08h00, lunch as 12h00, a snack at 16h00 and dinner at 19h00. The typical homeschooling parent that I am, I printed little clock faces showing those times and used it as an educational opportunity. I explained to Lexi that she needs to eat enough at each meal because there will be no snacks, just water, between meals.
For those of you thinking it, no, this does not encourage over eating. It does however, teach children to eat enough at each meal that they shouldn’t need to snack. Instead of asking "are you full?" I use terms like "are you still hungry?", "are you satisfied?" and "have you had enough?".
The first week was a struggle, with lots of moaning, but Lexi adapted very quickly and has been eating more at meal times and drinking more water between meals. I have noticed that she is also less fussy. She is far from being a fussy eater, but she does turn her nose up at things fairly regularly (usually things she loved the day before).
All this has meant that I have had to up my snack game, as she is just getting one snack a day. I’ve tried some fancy snacks, but I have found that it is always the simpler snacks that get the best reception. They’re also much easier on the budget and quicker to prepare.
Here’s what Lexi is loving at the moment:
Fruit salad is a great option for days when Lexi has sweet cravings. I usually only buy fruits that are low on the glycemic index like berries, strawberries, apples, plums, pomegranate and cantaloupe. Berries make cute fruit skewers that are delicious dipped into full fat plain yoghurt.
I love smoothies for days when Lexi hasn’t eaten well. They’re a great way to get her to have a nutrient dense meal. I like to add protein powders* and chia seeds for an extra bit of oomph. Lexi doesn’t always enjoy smoothies, but they make great ice lollies too and I always make sure that I have a few in the freezer for hot days.
Granola or Trail Mix
This is something that I NEVER buy. Store bought granola and trail mix is loaded with dried fruit and hidden sugar. Fortunately it is easy to mix up a large batch and store at home. I like to include a variety of nuts, dates, raisins, dried cranberry, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and coconut flakes. I usually only include one sweet item.
Fresh Apple Sauce
Kids everywhere love applesauce because of it’s pleasing, gentle texture and sweet taste. And it’s super simple and easy to make. If your children don’t like plain yoghurt homemade apple sauce is a great way to sweeten it naturally and get them used to it. Lexi loves it with a sprinkle of cinnamon. It’s also delicious on crumpets for a treat.
Cheese and Seed Crackers
Crackers are full of junk. Seed crackers are a great, easy to make alternative. Lexi loves hers with slices of whatever cheese we have in the house or with cream cheese. They’re full of nutrients and filling.