Food Policies for Kids - S/O of grocery store debate

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Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427
Food Policies for Kids - S/O of grocery store debate

Melissa's post about her "food policies" (for lack of a better term) with her kids reminded me of something. I guess it's a personal debate, but I mean it more in general terms (not like "What do you think I, Alissa_Sal, should do?")

Do you think that it is better to have more rigid meal times and rules about food for your children, or do you think it is better to let them kind of eat when and what they are hungry for?

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

Oh joy, A debate Melissa's family debate.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

The reason this came up is that my mom thinks that I am "mean" for not feeding T again if he doesn't eat his dinner.

My thoughts on the matter is that he is a healthy normal little boy who is offered 3 square meals a day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) and if he is hungry, he can have a small snack like a piece of fruit or some cheese and crackers (or a cookie if we happen to be at the grocery store. LOL) I want him to take one bite to try anything that I have given him, but beyond that I never force him to eat - how much food he eats at any given meal is up to him. I don't make him eat, and I don't restrict how much he eats either - if he wants seconds (and sometimes he does) then I happily dish them up.

I just figure that if he's hungry he'll eat. He is kind of a skinny little dude, but not to the point of being worrisome. Just tall and skinny by nature like his daddy, I think.

Often, especially at dinner, he won't eat very much, and then about an hour later he'll complain that he's hungry. If he's especially persistent, I will get him a small snack (again, a peice of fruit or some cheese and crackers) but I am not now, nor do I want to become, a short order cook. If he doesn't eat dinner, I'm not making him a new one later. My thoughts are that this will hopefully teach him to eat when we eat. My mom contends that this is "mean" and also that I should let him listen to his body and eat when he is hungry. While I do want to encourage him to eat when he is hungry, I also want to encourage him to be hungry when I cook dinner. LOL!!!

So, what do you all do?

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

"Potter75" wrote:

Oh joy, A debate Melissa's family debate.

Oh my gosh, I soooo didn't mean it that way. Your post just reminded me of a debate that I'm having with my own mom. I'm very sorry if you (or anyone else) took that as a go ahead to debate your personal style. That's definitely not what I meant.

RebeccaA'07's picture
Joined: 11/19/07
Posts: 1628

I am pretty relaxed with food, however, her daycare is on schedule. So at home, we do eat three meals a day but I let her snack whenever - if she's hungry, she's hungry. She still eats very well at meal-time so there isn't a bad affect of her eating an extra snack. At daycare, they have breakfast snack, lunch, afternoon snack - they don't get any snacks in between.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

Gotcha Smile

We are like you, I think. Our only real rule surrounding food is that you don't walk around eating it, I find it sloppy. They eat three big, home made meals a day (or else we eat out or whatever), and they never, EVER have to eat anything (the eat three bites thing skeeves me, I find it so anti personal autonomy). I also don't cook or provide alternate meals, barring situations like I'm having a dinner party and we are eating late and I make them something easy that they eat before the adults do. They also don't get food other than at mealtimes, but I will be honest, they never ask for it, either. Somedays, if they had an early lunch and we are having a late dinner, they will have a snack, it is all about managing things naturally and logically, not about rigid rules or specific mealtimes. With three kids 4 and under, our life is small and easy to manage. If they wake up later we eat a little later, they nap at 1 every.single.day so obviously lunch has to happen before 1. Dinner is eaten on the early side, since my DH works from home and does not have a commute to deal with. They go to bed at 8, so it would be weird for them to be "starving" between our meal at 6 and bedtime at 8, you know? They are big kids and big eaters, and I guess because snacks just aren't a big part of our daily routine they have learned to eat accordingly at meals, without any real rules or whatever around that.

As to what is "better"? I don't know that any one system is better for anyone or every family. We are a family who thrives on routines in general, it has helped us tremendously with sleeping, eating, chores, etc etc. It is almost a necessity with three kids so young in the house ~ at least it is for a personality like mine who likes order and structure. I can tell you that from a results based perspective, our thoughts surrounding mindful eating and family meals have worked well for us. I am sure that the oncoming years of school and sports and all sorts of schedule things will challenge how we manage this thought process as a family, but with a foundation of structure and healthy eating habits I think that it will at least be easier to deal with change as it comes.

Letting the kids determine when and what we eat would not ever work in our family.

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299

We're pretty strict with meal time. If I have to take the kids out at snack time, the snack comes with us. My kids are real creatures of habit and their schedule is important for them (not just me and DH, but really for them too). So yeah, the main rule is that we all sit down and eat together at fairly regular times. Sometimes the kids will be just famished even though they've eaten well (silly growth spurts ;)) so we have no problem about giving a larger snack or an earlier one.

wlillie's picture
Joined: 09/17/07
Posts: 1796

We have a schedule that is flexible, but follow the routine that daycare sets. Breakfast around 8, snack at 10, lunch at 11:30, snack when nap's over, mid-afternoon snack, and then supper (we don't eat until 7). He is a good eater and most of the snacks are fruit and vegetables (at least at home). He also has to eat at least a bite of everything because I've realized that 90% of the time, he will eat the entire portion or at least the majority of it.

eta- Dh doesn't like it, but he can have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich once he gets a little older and can fix it himself instead of something we fix that he doesn't like.

If my son is in the grocery store with me he's usually missing the mid afternoon snack and gets a box of organic raisins that are paid for long after they are eaten. I try very hard to only go during my lunch break so I can go by myself and get the most out of my coupons.

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

The reason this came up is that my mom thinks that I am "mean" for not feeding T again if he doesn't eat his dinner.

My thoughts on the matter is that he is a healthy normal little boy who is offered 3 square meals a day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) and if he is hungry, he can have a small snack like a piece of fruit or some cheese and crackers (or a cookie if we happen to be at the grocery store. LOL) I want him to take one bite to try anything that I have given him, but beyond that I never force him to eat - how much food he eats at any given meal is up to him. I don't make him eat, and I don't restrict how much he eats either - if he wants seconds (and sometimes he does) then I happily dish them up.

I just figure that if he's hungry he'll eat. He is kind of a skinny little dude, but not to the point of being worrisome. Just tall and skinny by nature like his daddy, I think.

Often, especially at dinner, he won't eat very much, and then about an hour later he'll complain that he's hungry. If he's especially persistent, I will get him a small snack (again, a peice of fruit or some cheese and crackers) but I am not now, nor do I want to become, a short order cook. If he doesn't eat dinner, I'm not making him a new one later. My thoughts are that this will hopefully teach him to eat when we eat. My mom contends that this is "mean" and also that I should let him listen to his body and eat when he is hungry. While I do want to encourage him to eat when he is hungry, I also want to encourage him to be hungry when I cook dinner. LOL!!!

So, what do you all do?

Same. I forgot to quote this earlier. Like, if I totally botch supper and it's too spicy or tastes really awful I'm not going to force the kids to eat it. My bad. I'll fix something else. But assuming it tastes yummy, that's what we're all having for supper.

Joined: 03/16/15
Posts: 53852

We have set mealtimes and set snacktimes. They eat then, at the table, or they don't eat. I don't force them to eat a certain amount of bites...but if they want dessert they finish their plate. If they want more of something tasty on their plate they will get seconds when they finish all their veggies.

mommytoMR.FACE's picture
Joined: 04/10/09
Posts: 780

There's times when I'm not hungry when dinner is ready, but an hour or so later, I feel hungry so then I eat. I'm not very strict to meal times, and I understand that sometimes Jace just may not be hungry or in the mood to eat. I certainly wouldn't let him go to bed hungry just because he didn't eat the first time offered.

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4100

I try to strike a balance between the two extremes. My kids have pretty much free choice for breakfast & lunch & their afternoon snack. I mean, DH won't make omelets every day or let them have mac & cheese every day, but within reason we accomodate their requests. Now that Weston can voice an opinion, if they can't agree & if it's not an individual item kind of thing, then if it's an odd day Tiven decides & Weston decides on even days. So Tiven might have a granola bar while Weston has yogurt for breakfast, but for lunch if she wants pasta & he wants soup, DH turns to the date for the decision. And while we do allow an afternoon snack, they don't get anything after 4pm so it won't ruin their appetite for dinner. Meals are eaten at the kitchen table, snacks can be eaten in another room (if they aren't messy, like we let them eat popcorn while watching a movie in the front room) or out back on the patio.

Dinner OTOH is whatever I make. Period. If they don't like it, they have to try two bites (one to try, another to make sure Wink ) and then they can have something else that doesn't involve me in any way. Dry cereal, granola bar, cold leftovers, cheese stick, that sort of thing. I don't make bad food. Blum 3 She might not enjoy what I made, but that's not my problem so it's not up to me to fix. Once dinner is over, that's the end of food in our home, there is no snacking before bedtime (at least not for the kids, shhhhh....) They need to eat enough to last until morning. We usually eat around 6:30 & bedtime is 8pm so it's not too long of a stretch.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6560

We are still in the process of working this out. I have a very hard time seeing my kids hungry. If they ask for something to eat, then I give them something to eat unless it is near a meal time or they were being suborn at dinner. DD1 is always hungry. She is very skinny and I can see her ribs, but she just is always hungry. We recently ate at a buffet and she had 3 plates of food. Then an hour later she was asking for a snack. Because she is plenty skinny I am assuming she is growing and just needs to eat. We do sit down at the table and eat 3 meals a day. Breakfast when ever they wake up and lunch around 12 and dinner between 5 and 6. I do try to discourage them only snacking and not eating all of their dinner. I also try encourage an apple or something instead of only crackers.

I would be interested in ideas about how to get the girls to eat more at dinner and less snacking in the middle without having to see my girls be hungry. Or in knowing if they are really hungry or just board.

Joined: 10/22/06
Posts: 1033

We pretty much do the same as Melissa, except my kids are not great eaters. They are not "terrible" eaters either, just choose not to eat meals on occasion rather than eat what is made. They are never forced to eat, but do have to sit at the table with the rest of the family (or whoever is home for the meal). We don't have regular snack time, but if they are truly hungry between meals they can always have fruit or veggies (no crackers or similar items that they would just fill up on in lieu of their meal). If they had opted not to eat the previous meal however, the only option for them until the next meal is those leftovers (i.e. if they didn't want their sandwich for lunch, I usually put it in the fridge and that is the "snack" they can have until dinner).

I think it's rare that kids really have some severe issue which would necessitate them having a custom-ordered diet (for example a medical issue or sensory diagnosis). Humans are not hardwired to starve themselves, so I am comfortable with providing my kids a healthy meal and letting them choose to eat or not. I don't make meals my kids hate or at least have a side of something they enjoy. If it works for people to make meals to order...great! It just wouldn't work for us and isn't something I have the patience to indulge.

ETA: I also think (barring the severe exceptions noted above) it would be disrespectful for my kids to expect to custom order their meals and rude to think they can just demand something else if they don't like what has been made for the family. It's fine not to eat. It's great for them to have input into meal planning. But that is where the buck stops for us.

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299

"Emilys4Guppies" wrote:

We have set mealtimes and set snacktimes. They eat then, at the table, or they don't eat. I don't force them to eat a certain amount of bites...but if they want dessert they finish their plate. If they want more of something tasty on their plate they will get seconds when they finish all their veggies.

See, veggies are a snap for my kids, for some reason! DD can sit there and polish off a plate of raw or steamed veggies, but potatoes? No way. She'll turn her nose up at mashed/roasted/scalloped/steamed, but will happily eat 2 helpings of broccoli. She's a bit weird like that. Wink So, since it's been quite a while of saying "I don't like potatoes" then I have to concede that she just really doesn't like them. That's okay. She loves rice and pasta, so we don't pile her plate with potatoes at every meal. I guess there's a time when you have to give your kid the benefit of the doubt on a few things. I mean, I hate squash and turnip and will not eat them. Brussels sprouts, sure. I know, VERY weird.

[QUOTE] ETA: I also think (barring the severe exceptions noted above) it would be disrespectful for my kids to expect to custom order their meals and rude to think they can just demand something else if they don't like what has been made for the family. It's fine not to eat. It's great for them to have input into meal planning. But that is where the buck stops for us.[QUOTE]
Yeah. Well said.

Joined: 12/10/05
Posts: 1681

We eat/drink at the table only. Three meals and snacks are eaten on a schedule and as a family. They are required to at least try everything on their plate and eat it all if they want dessert ("if you're too full to eat your dinner, you are too full to eat dessert"). I give them small servings and they can always have seconds.

If they are hungry in between meals, they can have either an apple, banana, or carrot.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

I just wanted to clarify that if he is still hungry after eating his dinner, he can certainly have seconds. What I'm talking about is a kid that turns his nose up at dinner at 6 and then is complaining that he wants a whole new dinner at 7 (he goes to bed at 8.) If we have leftovers (we usually do), I will usually offer those, or a piece of fruit or something, and he will usually turn them down, which says to me that he's not really THAT hungry. I try to make foods that the whole family will enjoy and offer a variety at each meal, although I would possibly make him an alternative if I was making something really spicy or something like that. I agree with the PP - I do not believe that a healthy average toddler would allow himself to starve, so I don't worry too much about it. I want him to get the idea that he needs to eat with us at meal times, not just whenever he feels like it.

ftmom's picture
Joined: 09/04/06
Posts: 1538

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

The reason this came up is that my mom thinks that I am "mean" for not feeding T again if he doesn't eat his dinner.

My thoughts on the matter is that he is a healthy normal little boy who is offered 3 square meals a day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) and if he is hungry, he can have a small snack like a piece of fruit or some cheese and crackers (or a cookie if we happen to be at the grocery store. LOL) I want him to take one bite to try anything that I have given him, but beyond that I never force him to eat - how much food he eats at any given meal is up to him. I don't make him eat, and I don't restrict how much he eats either - if he wants seconds (and sometimes he does) then I happily dish them up.

I just figure that if he's hungry he'll eat. He is kind of a skinny little dude, but not to the point of being worrisome. Just tall and skinny by nature like his daddy, I think.

Often, especially at dinner, he won't eat very much, and then about an hour later he'll complain that he's hungry. If he's especially persistent, I will get him a small snack (again, a peice of fruit or some cheese and crackers) but I am not now, nor do I want to become, a short order cook. If he doesn't eat dinner, I'm not making him a new one later. My thoughts are that this will hopefully teach him to eat when we eat. My mom contends that this is "mean" and also that I should let him listen to his body and eat when he is hungry. While I do want to encourage him to eat when he is hungry, I also want to encourage him to be hungry when I cook dinner. LOL!!!

So, what do you all do?

I havent read any more than this so far, but what I do in this situation is save DD's dinner on the counter and if she says she is hungry later I offer it back to her. She usually doesnt want it back, she really wants popcorn which is an occasional treat when I go out in the evening and Daddy does bedtime.

My Dr. told me that toddlers typically dont eat much dinner, that their systems are naturally geared to have their large meal at lunch time so if you are concerned with him being skinny (I always slightly am with my kids). Try to feed veggies, meat etc at lunch and fill them right up then.

RebeccaA'07's picture
Joined: 11/19/07
Posts: 1628

"mommytoMR.FACE" wrote:

There's times when I'm not hungry when dinner is ready, but an hour or so later, I feel hungry so then I eat. I'm not very strict to meal times, and I understand that sometimes Jace just may not be hungry or in the mood to eat. I certainly wouldn't let him go to bed hungry just because he didn't eat the first time offered.

Exactly, agreed.

Joined: 03/16/15
Posts: 53852

mommytoMRFACE....do you think that the reason you are occasionally not hungry at dinner time is because you are not strict to mealtimes?

mom3girls's picture
Joined: 01/09/07
Posts: 1535

We dont allow them to snack later if they chose not to eat a good meal. My second dd is a gymnast, on training days or when getting ready for competition she is hungry all the time, I let her eat whenever she wants to. The only real rule we have for snacks is that they have to be a fruit or veggie with some protein (they all really like apples and walnuts together)

Joined: 12/10/05
Posts: 1681

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

I just wanted to clarify that if he is still hungry after eating his dinner, he can certainly have seconds. What I'm talking about is a kid that turns his nose up at dinner at 6 and then is complaining that he wants a whole new dinner at 7 (he goes to bed at 8.) If we have leftovers (we usually do), I will usually offer those, or a piece of fruit or something, and he will usually turn them down, which says to me that he's not really THAT hungry. I try to make foods that the whole family will enjoy and offer a variety at each meal, although I would possibly make him an alternative if I was making something really spicy or something like that. I agree with the PP - I do not believe that a healthy average toddler would allow himself to starve, so I don't worry too much about it. I want him to get the idea that he needs to eat with us at meal times, not just whenever he feels like it.

Meh, your mom is being a softy. I do basically the same as you by the sounds of it.

We give the kids a bedtime snack most nights (cereal or yogurt and berries usually), so they do eat after dinner, regardless of whether they ate dinner or not.

But, I am NOT a short order cook (you can subtract my short order cook salary from my imaginary mom paycheck Wink ). I make a variety of foods for dinner, sometimes we have a favorite (spaghetti or meatloaf), sometimes I know it is something they hate (cabbage roll casserole), sometimes it is something they've never had before (thai coconut chicken recently), or sometimes just something boring (meat, potatoes, veggies)... Either way it is dinner, they are required to try a little, and I won't be making something different.

I'm confident even my most stubborn child will give in and eat before they would starve to death with a plate of food in front of them Smile

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4100

"ftmom" wrote:

My Dr. told me that toddlers typically dont eat much dinner, that their systems are naturally geared to have their large meal at lunch time so if you are concerned with him being skinny (I always slightly am with my kids). Try to feed veggies, meat etc at lunch and fill them right up then.

Ah, yes! I remember my ped telling me this when Tiven was little. Children naturally want to eat more when they are expending the most energy, i.e. in the middle of the day. Bump up lunch & perhaps an early-afternoon snack if your child isn't much into dinner. Kicking myself for not remembering this earlier. Wink

culturedmom's picture
Joined: 09/30/06
Posts: 1131

We have special issues at our house so allowing them to eat and drink in between set meal times is OK as long as it is something healthy (fruit, veggies, protien, water, milk). I also try not to make food a big deal. It's hard because I have one child who nutritonally needs a high fat diet and one who doesn't. Ugh, it sucks.

boilermaker's picture
Joined: 08/21/02
Posts: 1984

We eat at the table for almost every meal (with the exception of a day away from the house...when we might eat a picnic or something.)

I do let my kids eat when they are hungry--but they aren't big snackers. Our two littlest ones will typically have some yogurt when they wake from their mid-day naps (full fat organic bc they both so tiny...) My kids also know that they are always welcome to help themselves to the fresh fruit on the counter, cheese sticks in the drawer, or clean veggies in the fridge (I keep snap peas, carrots, celery, peppers, etc ready to go....) I give them total free reign on those items-- and sometimes after a vigorous afternoon of swimming or morning of riding their bikes-- they are hungry before the planned meal times.

We totally have the you must eat X number of bites rule. In our house, you have to eat as many bites as you are old-- but I don't really enforce this until you are 3, and the bites "max" out at 5--lol. And the rule only stands that you have to eat those bites if you want something else after dinner. If you choose not to eat them, I do the same as others and put the plate in the fridge until they decide that they want them....and if they don't, they get tossed.

I'm a total snacker....esp during the day while at work. I'm not always hungry before I leave the house for work, but often get hungry mid-morning or mid-afternoon. My hunger varies depending on how hard I worked out, what I did the day before, and where I am in my cycle...So I just make sure I keep my desk stocked with healthy snacks (right now I'm eating oatmeal squares cereal and drinking water....) I assume that my kids have the same variations of hunger levels, too.

I also think that it is no accident that Indian kids like curry or that Japanese kids like fish-- it is the frequency that they are offered those foods and so they "like" them. My 6 and 8 year olds both eat really really well-- rarely turning their noses up at things bc they were raised eating them....

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

"boilermaker" wrote:

I also think that it is no accident that Indian kids like curry or that Japanese kids like fish-- it is the frequency that they are offered those foods and so they "like" them. My 6 and 8 year olds both eat really really well-- rarely turning their noses up at things bc they were raised eating them....

I totally agree with this, which is why I don't typically make something else for my son even if we are having something a little "different" from our usual fare of a meat, a starch, and veggies. My reasoning is that Indian kids grow up eating Indian food, Mexican kids grow up eating Mexican food, et cetera, so there is nothing inherently kid-unfriendly about those foods, and he is more likely to enjoy them as an adult if he eats them as a child.

My one exception to that is spicy food. I always let DS try spicy food (and sometimes he surprises me by wolfing it down - he LOVES spicy salsa - like his daddy!) but I don't insist that he eat it, and I will usually provide alternatives. That's because I know how actually painful it can be to eat something that is too hot for you. But I still encourage him to at least try it with a warning that it is spicy so he knows what to expect.

elleon17's picture
Joined: 01/26/09
Posts: 1981

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

The reason this came up is that my mom thinks that I am "mean" for not feeding T again if he doesn't eat his dinner.

IMO, not at all!!! I struggle with this too, but I am not running a restaurant and I am not asking my toddler to eat an octupus. I give him nutritiously sound meals and snacks with the occasional 'treat' (cookie, hot dogs etc)

If he doesn't want dinner, then he doesn't get anything else.

I read a post from a girl on my board who gave the option of oatmeal if they didn't eat their meal.

On a different note, I won't force him to finish anything. I want him to learn his internal fullness queue.

mommytoMR.FACE's picture
Joined: 04/10/09
Posts: 780

"Emilys4Guppies" wrote:

mommytoMRFACE....do you think that the reason you are occasionally not hungry at dinner time is because you are not strict to mealtimes?

The weather and my mood can effect my appetite, or if I have been drinking a lot of water, etc. Like today at lunch, I didn't eat anything because I was running around and so hot and the last thing I wanted to do was eat.

fuchsiasky's picture
Joined: 11/16/07
Posts: 955

We have set meal times and snacks in between. We don't have set times for snacks and go by when she is hungry. Some days she has a couple, but when she is growing she snacks all day on top of her meals. We don't force her to finish if she isn't hungry because she isn't old enough to choose her portion size. As she gets older she will learn to take only what she can eat. I tend to cut her a bit more slack right now as she is only 2.5.

I do have a rule that I will not make more than one meal. I will let people take some out before I add things. DH has some major allergies so I add those things at the end. If someone really dislikes something they can pull some food out of the pan before I add it. I always take some before I put zuccinni in it cause I don't like it. If someone (say the teenager) really dislikes the meal they are welcome to make themselves a PB&J. But I am not cooking more.

ange84's picture
Joined: 12/28/09
Posts: 6564

I am pretty flexible. DS was chucking tantrums because he wanted to eat with the older kids at daycare when they have morning tea so he has his breakfast at around 9am at daycare, lunch on their schedule and sometimes a small snack (yoghurt, fruit,teething rusk, arrowroot biscuit) at afternoon tea if he wants to be with the older kids. I am looking at moving breakfast back to home soon as he is getting closer to one. We have dinner when we get home and it varies a little depending on the weather (too cold he gets a bath first not too bad dinner first) and how long it takes to cook. Weekends I am more flexible because our days vary so much depending on what is planned. Obviously on weekends breakfast is a little earlier as we are out the door at 9 to drive hubby to work.

ftmom's picture
Joined: 09/04/06
Posts: 1538

Sounds like we are a bit of an exception here. My kids eat 3 meals, and as many snacks as they want a day. And we eat wherever we happen to be a the time. I am actually thinking of implementing a eat at the table rule, but only because the crumbs are driving me crazy now that we dont have a dog:) Right now we eat wherever. In fact, breakfast is frequently in front of the TV on the couch, especially in the summer when we dont have to go anywhere for the day.

All of this started for two reasons. 1:I am (more was) a huge snacker, like wouldnt eat lunch, would rather just snack all day. Now that I am trying to lose weight (and succeeding) I have cut most of that out. 2: DD is just SO skinny! For a long time I was just happy if she ate anything. She is really tall for her age and her body just cant seem to keep up fat wise. I can easily count her ribs and when I put her into BMIs on the internet she always comes back as malnourished. Not that it slows her down or anything.

I also refuse to make more than one meal. I might seperate things out for my kids (so things like tacos they get some cheese, some meat, some wrap instead of all together) or add a few things if I know they wont eat what I have made (pizza DS gets a piece, plus some meat, cheese, crust etc. on the side), but if they refuse to eat things then it gets set asside for if they are hungry later. And DD has to try at least a bite of everything.

Joined: 12/10/05
Posts: 1681

"ftmom" wrote:

All of this started for two reasons. 1:I am (more was) a huge snacker, like wouldnt eat lunch, would rather just snack all day. Now that I am trying to lose weight (and succeeding) I have cut most of that out. 2: DD is just SO skinny! For a long time I was just happy if she ate anything. She is really tall for her age and her body just cant seem to keep up fat wise. I can easily count her ribs and when I put her into BMIs on the internet she always comes back as malnourished. Not that it slows her down or anything.

This is off topic and you might already know this... But, make sure you are using a bmi calculator for children. The actual bmi comes out the same, but the way they are plotted is different. On a standard online bmi calculator, all my kids are very underweight, but using one adjusted for children, they are within the healthy range, because body composition naturally changes with age.

carg0612's picture
Joined: 09/23/09
Posts: 1554

We have 5 children in the house. We have a fairly rigid meal time schedule and rules. With that many children if we didn't we'd be overrun and in the kitchen all the time.

I make what I make and on occasion I will swap out a side dish if I know one or two of the kids really hates something. But I will not make separate meals for everyone.

I do ask that the children at least try something they claim they don't like. I won't force them to eat it all but they need to try it. Often times one of them will say they don't like something that they just loved 2 days earlier - they just aren't in the mood for it so I make them try it (which usually results in several bites or more anyway).

They are not allowed to put feet up, get up without saying "excuse me" and a good reason, walk around, yell (howl, scream, or any other extremely loud vocalization) at the table. Nor are toys allowed (simply not enough room and something always gets spilled). Certainly conversation, laughter, smiles, and the occasional piece of flying food from children's smiling mouths are all pretty great. They like to play I spy too (a weird game at the dinner table).

If they choose not to eat their dinner they will not get anything else to eat later. Nor will they get any type of treat - even if they have to watch their siblings get a treat and they don't.

During the weekends when we are all home I will allow a self-service snack between breakfast and lunch and then between lunch and dinner. So like a granola bar, dry cereal, rice cakes, cheese crackers, etc. But they must clean it up and put it away when they are done.

My MIL thinks I'm too strict but with 5 children I don't know how else to be (plus its none of her business). If I let them eat whenever and made each one their favorite dish of the day I'd never get the kitchen clean or get out of the kitchen.

Plus I like the manners. My DSS's don't have to use manners at their bio-mom's house so some days it's tough but I insist on please's, thank you's, no talking with full mouths, no feet up, that kind of thing. MIL tells me I'm suffocating the children with all of "my rules" (she can kiss off as far as I'm concerned). But I enjoy hearing when my kids come back from a friend's house that they are welcome any time because they are polite, respectful, happy and fun - makes a momma feel good (and the child feel good too).

I also think it makes things easier for the kids when they know what's expected of them because the parameters are clearly defined, evenly distributed, and consistenly applied.

mom3girls's picture
Joined: 01/09/07
Posts: 1535

For the people that dont snack at all how do you get in all the servings of fruits and veggies kids need a day? I have found the only way they can get all the food groups in is to make sure they are getting it at snack time. What does a typical meal look like if you are fitting it all in?

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

I'm not sure that this question is directed to me, as I stated that we snack when it makes sense (i.e a really active morning, an earlier lunch, or a later dinner).........but have no problem getting in plenty of fruits and vegetables. They may not get quite there on friday (pizza night) but the over all intake is such that I don't pay all that much attention to it. (Do other Mothers really count up daily servings/child? Do you go by USDA guidelines and that whole food pyramid bit? ? I don't put much stock in that, honestly, as we don't drink milk or do other things on their list anyway. I must be a slacker. Because they eat fruit at every meal and vegetables at lunch and dinner I don't give it all that much thought). They are also big and healthy, so perhaps I just don't obsess over it like I might if I had a smaller or more sickly child.

We grow our own vegetables and herbs and also belong to a CSA and an Orchard share, so luckily the availability and quantity of fresh local organic seasonal produce is easy to come by.

I'd ask the same question of the habitual snackers, really, since they all seem to mention crackers, goldfish, or cheese sticks as the snacks that they hand their child in the grocery store. None of those things incorporate fruits or veggies.

ETA: Rather than list out meal plans (which I'm sure would bore everyone), I'll just say this. My kids nap from 1-4. That is when I cook. My laptop is here on my island, so I'm free to chat with you all as I go. We are suffering from overabundance of vegetables at the moment. Today I made two loaves of zucchini bread and about a 2 gallon batch of ratatouille. Yesterday it was homemade pasta sauce filled with vegetables. It really isn't all that hard to get in lots of different vegetables (fruit is super easy) if you have them available to you, are willing to cook them, and have kids who were raised eating them and love them. Its just a fact.

Joined: 12/10/05
Posts: 1681

We don't snack in the sense that the kids walk around eating half the day or in the car or at the grocery store. We have set meal/snack times at the kitchen table. The kids usually eat 5-6 times per day.

Breakfast is oatmeal, cereal, or toast.

Morning snack is typically a smoothie (made of milk and fruit - they probably get 2 or 3 serving of fruit from that.

Lunch is a sandwich and some fruit or veggies on the side (today was PB&J with carrot sticks and cherries).

Afternoon snack will be crackers and an apple.

Dinner tonight is tuna casserole (with corn and peas in it) and green beans on the side.

Bedtime snack is yogurt and frozen fruit.

I think that is a fairly well rounded day nutritionally. Some days are definitely better than others... I figure it balances out. Yesterday they had a giant bowl of fruit salad for lunch and probably got their days worth of vitamins from that alone. The other day my 2yo ate PJ toast and 3 bananas for breakfast. They routinely eat several entire carrots when I'm chopping veggies to make dinner.

If they are starving, they know they can help themselves to an apple or banana (and eat it at the table).

ftmom's picture
Joined: 09/04/06
Posts: 1538

"kris_w" wrote:

This is off topic and you might already know this... But, make sure you are using a bmi calculator for children. The actual bmi comes out the same, but the way they are plotted is different. On a standard online bmi calculator, all my kids are very underweight, but using one adjusted for children, they are within the healthy range, because body composition naturally changes with age.

Thanks, But I do:eek: Usually she is less than a half pound off of 'normal' though, and the Dr isnt worried, so I try not to look. I just cant help being a worry wort about it though:confused:

Starryblue702's picture
Joined: 04/06/11
Posts: 5454

I don't make my kids eat anything that I wouldn't eat. I'm pretty lax when it comes to what they want to eat, as long as it's healthy. I really don't allow them to have sugar, other than holidays and special occasions. If they want "snacks" they have to eat fruit, yogurt, pretzels, rice cakes, things like that. I do let them choose what they want for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (and it's not necessarily what I make for DH and I, unless they ask for some). Obviously I let them pick out their own cereals at the store (again, nothing with marshmallows or anything), or they have toast. Then for dinner they normally go for sandwiches, pizza, mac & cheese, noodles, things like that. If they're hungry I let them snack in between meals, but not if they don't eat their lunch or dinner. I don't have them set to a specific time to eat meals either... generally if I'm having lunch or dinner then I'll ask them what they want at that time. And, I don't let them eat anything past 10PM.

ftmom's picture
Joined: 09/04/06
Posts: 1538

"Potter75" wrote:

I'm not sure that this question is directed to me, as I stated that we snack when it makes sense (i.e a really active morning, an earlier lunch, or a later dinner).........but have no problem getting in plenty of fruits and vegetables. They may not get quite there on friday (pizza night) but the over all intake is such that I don't pay all that much attention to it. (Do other Mothers really count up daily servings/child? Do you go by USDA guidelines and that whole food pyramid bit? ? I don't put much stock in that, honestly, as we don't drink milk or do other things on their list anyway. I must be a slacker. Because they eat fruit at every meal and vegetables at lunch and dinner I don't give it all that much thought). They are also big and healthy, so perhaps I just don't obsess over it like I might if I had a smaller or more sickly child.

We grow our own vegetables and herbs and also belong to a CSA and an Orchard share, so luckily the availability and quantity of fresh local organic seasonal produce is easy to come by.

I'd ask the same question of the habitual snackers, really, since they all seem to mention crackers, goldfish, or cheese sticks as the snacks that they hand their child in the grocery store. None of those things incorporate fruits or veggies.

ETA: Rather than list out meal plans (which I'm sure would bore everyone), I'll just say this. My kids nap from 1-4. That is when I cook. My laptop is here on my island, so I'm free to chat with you all as I go. We are suffering from overabundance of vegetables at the moment. Today I made two loaves of zucchini bread and about a 2 gallon batch of ratatouille. Yesterday it was homemade pasta sauce filled with vegetables. It really isn't all that hard to get in lots of different vegetables (fruit is super easy) if you have them available to you, are willing to cook them, and have kids who were raised eating them and love them. Its just a fact.

Honestly, for us, those are 'out somewhere snacks' My DD loves crackers, so I try to incorporate them into lunches, but other than that I try to save the goldfish for when we are out and give them fruit for snacks at home. Other popular snacks are yogurt, toast w/ pb and jam and alot of milk.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

I'm with Melissa - I honestly don't worry about making sure that T gets the proper number of "servings" of anything. I just typically serve fruit with breakfast, typically some fruit and/or some veggies with lunch, and veggies with dinner. I don't over think it.

mom3girls's picture
Joined: 01/09/07
Posts: 1535

I dont look at each day and make sure they get the proper servings, I just look at about a week at a time and kind of guess (we dont drink Milk here either so I dont stick to the pyramid totally) but I have found getting in enough fruit to be hard if they dont snack. They have fruit with breakfast and sometimes with lunch but almost never with dinner. The veggies are easy to get in because they them everyday with lunch and dinner.

elleon17's picture
Joined: 01/26/09
Posts: 1981

"mom3girls" wrote:

I dont look at each day and make sure they get the proper servings, I just look at about a week at a time and kind of guess (we dont drink Milk here either so I dont stick to the pyramid totally) but I have found getting in enough fruit to be hard if they dont snack. They have fruit with breakfast and sometimes with lunch but almost never with dinner. The veggies are easy to get in because they them everyday with lunch and dinner.

Veggies are so hard to get my son to eat now! So frustrating

RebeccaA'07's picture
Joined: 11/19/07
Posts: 1628

"ftmom" wrote:

Honestly, for us, those are 'out somewhere snacks' My DD loves crackers, so I try to incorporate them into lunches, but other than that I try to save the goldfish for when we are out and give them fruit for snacks at home. Other popular snacks are yogurt, toast w/ pb and jam and alot of milk.

We're the same way - I am not going to open up a carton of unwashed strawberries in the store for a snack, a small carton of goldfish is not going to overthrow her entire diet. At home, she is the healthiest eater in the house...fruits/veggies with every meal. I could probably take some lesson's from her Wink

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299

"RebeccaA'07" wrote:

We're the same way - I am not going to open up a carton of unwashed strawberries in the store for a snack, a small carton of goldfish is not going to overthrow her entire diet. At home, she is the healthiest eater in the house...fruits/veggies with every meal. I could probably take some lesson's from her Wink

I think 99.99% of people wouldn't do that, no matter how hungry their kid is. Gross. I found out recently that strawberries are like the most heavily sprayed (non-organic) crop. I'd never eat one without washing!

fuchsiasky's picture
Joined: 11/16/07
Posts: 955

"ftmom" wrote:

Sounds like we are a bit of an exception here. My kids eat 3 meals, and as many snacks as they want a day. And we eat wherever we happen to be a the time. I am actually thinking of implementing a eat at the table rule, but only because the crumbs are driving me crazy now that we dont have a dog:) Right now we eat wherever. In fact, breakfast is frequently in front of the TV on the couch, especially in the summer when we dont have to go anywhere for the day.

No you are not the exception. DH and I are couch eaters. In fact our table doesn't even have room to eat at right now for all of the stuff stored on it (sigh). We do have a kids table in the living room though. This is her eating and activities table. Often we will just eat there.

fuchsiasky's picture
Joined: 11/16/07
Posts: 955

"Potter75" wrote:

I'd ask the same question of the habitual snackers, really, since they all seem to mention crackers, goldfish, or cheese sticks as the snacks that they hand their child in the grocery store. None of those things incorporate fruits or veggies.

If we are out and about I take crackers, juice and water. If I can I take precut fruits/veg in containers but some of it is too messy or chokeable. When we are at home snacks always start out with fruits and veggies cause that is what she likes best. Then she will eat crackers or yogurt or cheese. She doesn't drink milk so we add in dairy snacks to give her more calcium.

I don't really track her servings and food groups. I do know that she could use more dairy and proteins so I try to get those into her more. But for the most part she has a variety of healthy foods over the course of a week.

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4100

"Potter75" wrote:

I'd ask the same question of the habitual snackers, really, since they all seem to mention crackers, goldfish, or cheese sticks as the snacks that they hand their child in the grocery store. None of those things incorporate fruits or veggies.

That's because crackers & cheese sticks are easy to open, easy to close the package up when you get to the register, they are sold by package not piece or weight, they aren't messy for the kids to eat, and they don't need to be washed first. Blum 3

If I have the diaper bag with me, then I have a small container of O's cereal with dried blueberries, and another container of dried mangos, along with a sippy of water. The times I get into trouble & need to open something in the store are when I've either forgotten it, or left it in the car.

ange84's picture
Joined: 12/28/09
Posts: 6564

For getting the right amounts of fruit and veg each day I haven't had too many issues. DS gets oats with fruit for breakfast most days (This morning is an exception, he's having vegemite on toast because I'm out of oats), lunch is a mix of veg, dinner is whatever we are having which generally is a meat and some veg or if it's it's not 9 month old proof a mix of veg. When he gets older it will stay similar with veggie sticks and dips for snacks as well as fruit.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

Yeah......um, my point wasn't that I don't understand why you aren't feeding your kid raw ground beef or unwashed strawberries as a snack ~ Obviously the portability and lack of mess for you/your child (if not the stores floor) of processed carbohydrates is a bonus for the busy shopper Mom. I was just wondering why the person who inquired how on earth the non snackers get healthy food into their children in *just* three meals a day isn't wondering the same thing of the store snackers, who also don't seem to be snacking on fruit and/or veggies while they peruse the aisles.

Maybe I missed it while reading the replies, but has there been a SAHM yet who DOES store snack? It is weird how across the employment line this seems to be drawn.

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299

"ange84" wrote:

For getting the right amounts of fruit and veg each day I haven't had too many issues. DS gets oats with fruit for breakfast most days (This morning is an exception, he's having vegemite on toast because I'm out of oats), lunch is a mix of veg, dinner is whatever we are having which generally is a meat and some veg or if it's it's not 9 month old proof a mix of veg. When he gets older it will stay similar with veggie sticks and dips for snacks as well as fruit.

Crap. If you can get a kid to eat Vegemite you can get them to eat just about anything! For me growing up it was Marmite. Maybe that's why the only thing I turn my nose up at is squash and turnip. :puke:

ange84's picture
Joined: 12/28/09
Posts: 6564

"Claire'sMommy" wrote:

Crap. If you can get a kid to eat Vegemite you can get them to eat just about anything! For me growing up it was Marmite. Maybe that's why the only thing I turn my nose up at is squash and turnip. :puke:

My DS has only turned his nose up at one thing so far, pumpernickel bread which hubby tried to give him. Vegemite is a staple here, I'm not a big fan though, but during pregnancy it was a godsend, the vitamin b in it helped on those mornings I felt a bit sick.

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