Snack drawers and other ways to teach kids to eat in moderation

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.

Snacks are usually the most challenging to moderate because children often prefer snack foods to what is served for dinner.

Most kids can control the amount of broccoli they consume much more easily than they can control the number of cookies, so if you want to teach your children to snack and eat sweets in moderation, follow these six steps.

1. Teach them to recognise hunger cues. Children won’t be able to recognise 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. Allow your child to listen to hunger and satiety cues without any input from you.

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.

4. Set a specific snack time. The kitchen or snack cabinet should not be open all day. 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 snack drawers. 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.

Creating a snack drawer and giving your children some control over it could possibly ease your eating worries. When you take the leftover candy and dole it out in a snack drawer, it doesn’t hold as much power.

Potty training your children didn’t happen overnight. Neither did teaching them to ride a bike. Moderation won’t be any different; it is best taught one snack at a time. – The Washington Post