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To think there is not enough clear advice on feeding children well

(62 Posts)
lecce Sun 14-Jul-13 20:17:32

I think we have developed 'a situation' with snacks, especially where ds2 (4yo) is concerned. He is driving me insane with his constant whine of 'I'm hungry,' and 'what can I have then?' It is not unusual for him to be snacking all day and not eating well at mealtimes. However, what makes me doubt myself is that even on days when he does eat well at mealtimes, he will still be asking for food not much later. So, I assume he is hungry and increase his portion sizes. Then the next day, this leads to even more wasted food.

His snacks are not junk food - mainly fruit, breadsticks, oatcakes, other plainish crackers with peanut butter or hummus. He is a little chubby in the face and arms but still in 3yo clothes and naked you can see his ribs.

To further complicate matters, if his elder brother (6) sees him getting a snack, he invariably asks for one too. This makes me think he's eating when he's not really hungry as he's not instigating it, but then he, after going through a slightly chubby time about 18 months ago, is very skinny and looks a if he's been stretched.

So, I'm feeling pretty clueless and very stressed with all the constant whinging for food. Is it normal to be constantly snacking? What portion sizes should dc of these ages be having? I have had a google, but can't find anything. All I can find is NHS stuff about not giving them too much, but no one seems to be quoting figures about how much they should be eating.

I am annoyed because about 2 years ago, ds1 was weighed and measured at school and declared to be just into the 'obese' category. At the time I posted on here about how useless the accompanying leaflet was as it was full of stuff about limiting sugary/fatty snacks, not having squash, not sitting on arses all day watching TV. We're not perfect but none of it applied to us. I basically worried for 6 months, had him re-weighed and he had grown taller and no heavier, so was out of the 'danger zone'.

However, now I feel like I have lost my way with feeding the dc and, looking for advice, there isn't any. I know snacks shouldn't be junk, but how much 'non-junk' is too much?

phantomnamechanger Sun 14-Jul-13 20:21:12

does he drink well? sometime kids confuse thirst for hunger - and instead of a snack all they need is a cup of water.

NotYoMomma Sun 14-Jul-13 20:24:15

if he is wasting food then asking for more a short time later he is not hungry, he is playing you for food he prefers.

MothershipG Sun 14-Jul-13 20:26:45

An easy guide to portion sizes is the size of the first, so visualise the size of your DS's clenched fist and use that as your guide.

Also I think you are making snacks far too interesting! grin if I were you I'd give 2 fairly boring option, say carrot sticks or plain rice cake. If he's hungry he'll eat and if he's just bored he'll whinge and you'll have to use the carrot sticks to block your ears.

HTH wink

JustinBsMum Sun 14-Jul-13 20:27:04

Yes, the water could be what he needs.
Can having snacks be made boring eg he has to sit on his own at the kitchen table without toy etc

WorraLiberty Sun 14-Jul-13 20:27:58

Yep I've got 3 DC and they've all tried the 'I'm hungry' line when what they really mean is, 'I fancy a treat/snack'.

Kids can be naturally greedy (as can adults) and also eat through boredom.

So when mine keep repeatedly asking for snacks, I tell them they're allowed fruit only.

gordyslovesheep Sun 14-Jul-13 20:31:26

same as Worra - mine have unlimited fruit - my 4 year old has taken to helping herself to crisps and stuff which is a PITA (crisps now out of reach)

she is always 'hungry' even 10 mins after her tea - she such a drama lama as well it drives me mad!

HoldingHigh Sun 14-Jul-13 20:33:56

Same as Worra! My lots "I'm hungry" really translates to "I want some crappy junk like sweets!"

lecce Sun 14-Jul-13 20:36:11

So unlimited fruit is ok? See, I have encouraged breadsticks etc because I wanted to limit the sweet stuff. I know the toppings/dips probably make them too 'exciting' but, tbh, dh is more to blame for that than me. I would probably offer them plain but dh is sahd so not much I can do about it. MothershipG we have had to stop buying rice cakes because he would eat half a packet in one sitting given half a chance.

WorraLiberty Sun 14-Jul-13 20:37:09

I've noticed mine are never 'hungry' when they're engrossed in playing games...the the Wii or zipping up and down on their bikes.

It's only when they're home and not doing a great deal grin

Tanith Sun 14-Jul-13 20:37:47

The latest training I've had is that we should be providing 3 meals a day, plus a morning and afternoon snack.

The snacks are similar to what you're providing. Sounds like your son's read the same training slides wink

Quite how that changes when they get to school, I don't know...

WorraLiberty Sun 14-Jul-13 20:39:47

But you know it is ok sometimes to say "No, you've had enough now", when you know they can't possibly be properly hungry.

I think we as parents often find it hard to refuse our kids food when they ask.

But the sneaky fuckers learn this from an early age wink

Bert2e Sun 14-Jul-13 20:39:56

This site has lots of food info - scroll down for young children.

pourmeanotherglass Sun 14-Jul-13 20:49:46

My DD2 seems to need to eat 'little and often' rather than in 3 big meals. I can't see the problem so long as she has healthy snacks rather than rubbish. She's tiny and slim for her age (9), and even if she doesn't have snacks she eats quite small portions at mealtimes.
My DD1 on the other hand eats more like an adult (3 big meals) and isn't bothered about snacks.

AvonCallingBarksdale Sun 14-Jul-13 20:51:09

grin @ sneaky fuckers

MothershipG Sun 14-Jul-13 20:54:16

Worra's right, you are allowed to say no! Fruit shouldn't be unlimited and neither should carbs, so if he's not thirsty stick to raw veg; carrot, cucumber, celery, none of which is likely to be a problem regarding weight gain.

Murtette Sun 14-Jul-13 21:01:58

When DD (3.8) says "I'm hungry" she's offered a banana and, if she doesn't want that, then I say "well, if you're not hungry for fruit then you're not hungry". She will now sometimes say to me "I'm hungry for fruit" which I've realised means she's properly hungry & other times she'll say "I'm hungry but if there's just fruit then I'm not". I've we've been baking or she knows there are Babybels in the fridge or ice lollies in the freezer then I'll let her at breakfast when she's allowed a fairy cake/Babybel/lolly as otherwise she'll be going on about it all day.
Having said that, if she hasn't had much lunch for example and the reason for not having much was that we were in a rush or that its not a meal she particularly likes (or I overcooked it!), then I will let her have toast or something when she asks for a snack.

Takver Sun 14-Jul-13 21:09:31

That link of Bert2e's is good, I've just had a look at it & this leaflet looks really useful. I also now feel better about dd's meals as I hadn't realised an active 11 y/o could reasonably eat more than an adult!

zoraqueenofzeep Sun 14-Jul-13 21:11:52

I used to let dd snack too much and found that she wouldn't eat enough of her meals leaving her hungry within the hour and wanting more snacks! All healthy snacks like fruit, nuts, ricecakes and veg. Since limiting snacks to 2 a day, she now eats her meals which are far more filling and doesn't ask for snacks at all anymore. She also sleeps through the night now, I think before she was waking because she was always hungry.

Takver Sun 14-Jul-13 21:14:49

I also think that if they're eating healthy snacks (eg carrot sticks, celery, apple, hummus, oatcakes, cheese) then so long as you keep an eye on salt levels it maybe isn't the end of the world if they eat those rather than a 'proper' meal?

DD certainly went through a phase around 4 where she was hungry at different times from us, and it was easier just to make sure there were suitable snacks rather than to re-arrange all our meals. Having said that she will always eat raw veg which is a blessing & I realise pure luck!

marriedinwhiteagain Sun 14-Jul-13 21:29:35

My DC are big boned having inherited teutonic genes from both sides. Always top of the centile charts. DS is 6'2" and although broad hasn't an ounce of fat on him. DD had an early puberty; periods at 10. When she was weighed and measured in the class, as a maths activity, she came out as obese. At 12 she was anorexic but happily we caught it in time and she's fine now. At 15 and 1.5 inches taller than at 11 she weighs the same but is well within her BMI and an 8 or 10 in size. Her weight naturally caught up with her age or Vice versa.

All very dangerous the chartS do not account for genetic/national differences of different growth/puberty rates. Use them with care.

Eat well and sensibly and remember each and every one of us is an individual and not a dot on. Percentile line.

HeySoulSister Sun 14-Jul-13 22:32:18

Why can't we let our children be hungry? Do they need endless snacks between meals? No!

Hunger can be good for them to experience! Then at mealtimes they will pretty much eat all of what you serve them.

Fruit/carb snacks are fairly pointless... They just crave more as they are empty. Try protein... A boiled egg or some cooked chicken pieces?

Also, I hate how food dominates everything.... Coach journey has to have snacks, bowling, even the cinema. People can't seem to go anywhere without incorporating food into it. No wonder obesity is rising

TwasBrillig Sun 14-Jul-13 22:42:19

Fruit carb snacks are what they get at pre school, and what we give, and seems to be what the NHS leaflets suggest. So not sure they're pointless.

We'll do breadsticks, or a cracker, or apple or banana or a carrot. If Hz tides then over until lunch what's the problem?

Toadinthehole Mon 15-Jul-13 07:36:37

When my children were very young (ie, <4) I always took the view that as long as what they ate healthy and b) balanced, it didn't matter that much when they ate. I did steer them toward eating mostly at breakfast, lunch and dinner for the sake of my convenience as much as anything else.

I achieved this by giving them raw fruit and veg as snacks, and avoiding anything carb based, and generally giving water, not milk.

I gave them something whenever they asked, and figured that their bodies would tell them whether or not they were overeating. I can't remember if I ever saw their ribs, but I don't think I would have been troubled if I did.

I avoided anything with sugar in like the plague. Finding playgroups that didn't give the children biscuits was a problem though.

Didn't have any problem with pestering for sweets because they didn't get any. In fact, I never had any problem taking them past the low-down confectionary stands - they probably never realised what they were.

The only trouble we ever had was then DD1 went through a stage of refusing to eat meat and ended up iron-deficient. Can't remember how we sorted it out, but we did.

HeySoulSister Mon 15-Jul-13 08:15:49

Yes toad i find veg snacks are better than breadsticks too. And dd still grabs them now as her choice of snack and she's 19!!

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