I was ecstatic when the quads were able to start eating purees. I genuinely enjoyed preparing homemade baby food and introducing new foods to their palates. They had favorites, but typically tried whatever landed in their mouth. Beginning table foods was another exciting adventure for us. The quads loved practicing their pincer grasp to stuff morsels of food into their mouths. As babies, they were relatively good eaters.
Then toddlerhood began. Toddlers are notorious for being picky eaters and my foursome was no exception. Just before age two, they became VERY opinionated about what they would or would not sample. We decided early on we weren’t catering to anyone’s whims and we continued to present a variety of food at each meal. We never forced them to eat certain things, but encouraged them to taste since children often need at least a dozen opportunities to sample something before deciding they like it. As our finicky toddlers transformed to preschoolers things went from bad to worse.
As preschoolers, the kids began articulating their strong opinions about food and how it was served. If we so much as cut their sandwich in a triangle instead of a rectangle, someone would burst into tears. If a preferred food didn’t materialize when requested, tears. Dinner became frustrating. After working hard to prepare fresh meals I’d hear protests at the table, tears streamed, and some kids ate nothing from their plates. On occasion, dinner tantrums were severe enough that kids needed breaks away from the table to compose themselves. By bedtime, whining of hunger would begin since no one ate a decent dinner.
After months of this, I decided it was time for a food revolution. I assessed our eating habits and noticed that afternoon snacks seemed problematic. I’m not against snacking, and know that a grazing pattern is good for one’s metabolism (I’m typically a grazer), but snacks were seriously interfering with dinner. I was allowing the kids to fill themselves on salty carbohydrates (e.g. goldfish, veggie straws, pretzels) and by dinner they weren’t hungry. Initially, I tried using small Gladware containers to monitor portions, but things didn’t improve. It seemed that if these kids consumed a single goldfish it would expand and fill their stomach before dinner.
For a few weeks, I put the kibosh on all afternoon snacks. It was a difficult transition. The kids whined after nap as I prepared dinner, but I stuck with it. ABSOLUTELY NO SNACKS!!! To accommodate the change, I started serving dinner about half an hour earlier than normal. The kids were hungrier no doubt, and they ate a little more at dinner. Our problems were only partially solved, however. There was still plenty of moaning and lots of tears about dinner. Our frustration continued, and dinner was a stressful time. Eliminating snacks was clearly not the solution to making dinner more pleasant.
Stay tuned to find out what we did next, and what we did to finally improve dinnertime.
Do you have afternoon snacks at your house? Is dinner time stressful for your family?
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8 thoughts on “Food Revolution Phase 1: Snack Detox”
Ummm, yeah, what DID you do next? We stopped snack type foods recently and if the girls are hungry, they get small bites of whatever food we have – a few spoonfuls of soup, a couple piece of broccoli, etc. But this isn’t solving that they aren’t hungry at dinner. And we are okay if they don’t want to eat, but you know what happens in the middle of the night then! I thought it would only take a couple of times waking up hungry and being denied food, but no, we are continuing on this trend.
I thought the same thing! If they skipped a meal or two, they’d learn to stop that habit. I was wrong.
No spoilers, but check out Ellyn Satter’s website. I haven’t read her book, but an ECI therapist explained the foundation of her work and it’s helping here.
Yes I’m familiar with her. A lot of spd parents use her. The division of responsibility stuff etc. but it ends up being not in line with our RIE approach at some points.
Maybe I’ll have another look.
I actually think I’m realizing my girls’ issue isn’t they’re hungry; rather they’re sleepy or overtired.
What is the RIE approach? There are a few places where I disagree with Satter, but I used the foundation of her work to find a better way to approach dinner. Sleepy and overtired contribute to problems as well!
My boys are very similar. They will eat, but only if it’s something they really like. There are plenty of dinners I’ve made where they refuse to eat it because they don’t like it. They snack often during the day and drink milk once in the morning and once at night. Maybe I’ll have to cut down on snacks too. Looking forward to the next post.
It wasn’t the snacking itself that made me nuts, it was the lack of nutritional value plus stressful meals. Stay tuned 🙂
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I look forward to finding out what you did next! I am curious to find out what you did about dinner and/or snacks. We always have a big bowl of fruit and when the whining starts, I usually say ‘yes’ to a piece of fruit unless it is really close to a meal.
Right now, I have the next phase about snacks drafted in my head 😉 it’s similar to your bowl of fruit strategy.