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To think children don't need to be constantly grazing on food?

128 replies

UnderneathTheMangoTree · 21/11/2019 12:20

I have a friend I usually see twice a week, we both have 2 DC each age 5 and 3.

She is constantly feeding the kids and it is getting on my nerves - it's mostly stuff like fruit purees, bread sticks, slices of plain white bread, plain biscuits. I get annoyed that my kids spend the afternoon eating mostly unhealthy food and then refuse their tea, which they normally love.

I have given up trying to stop them from eating the snacks she provides because she always insists on giving them the same amount she gives her DC. I have now even started taking similar snacks whenever we meet because I felt uncomfortable not offering any food except for fruit and a slice of bread and butter, which is what my kids normally have for a snack.

AIBU to think that 3 and 5 year olds don't need to be constantly grazing on food and that one smallish snack is enough to tide them over till tea? Or do I need to relax and accept that they are going to spend two afternoons a week grazing on food and then not eating anything at teatime?

Btw, my DC don't beg for food in the afternoons once they have had their fruit and bread and they are both on the 75th percentile for height and weight, so I am definitely not starving them!

OP posts:

BlackSwanGreen · 21/11/2019 12:21

YANBU and this would really annoy me.


tomatosoup4 · 21/11/2019 12:23

I have 5 children and they snack all day and still eat their dinner. I like to see kids eat though.


BillHadersNewWife · 21/11/2019 12:24

Ooh you could be me! Except mine are older now. I had one friend in particular like this...and it was so annoying.

She always had things in her bag when we went out too...we'd be on a train and she'd go in her bag and hand out those 'puff" crisps...and breadsticks, raisins (awful things get everywhere!)

Mine took what she offered of course and like you, I felt bad!

You could see her less...or just really level with her and say "No, X doesn't need a snack now...she won't eat her tea"

Don't let her "insist" she gives yours the same.


BillHadersNewWife · 21/11/2019 12:24

Tomato really? What snacks? Don't they get overweight?


tomatosoup4 · 21/11/2019 12:29

Crisps, biscuits, bread sticks, fruit, yogurts, chocolate. No over weight children or anywhere near being overweight, if anything they need fattening up.


Millie2008 · 21/11/2019 12:29

Where do you normally meet? Hers or yours? It’s tricky to dictate what she feeds her kids obviously. But I don’t see any reason why you can’t take snacks that you’re happier with round to her house (enough to offer her kids too maybe?). Presumably it’s easier when she comes to yours as then you have all the usual stuff you’d give your kids to hand. Does she ask you if it’s ok before handing her food out to your DC’s - if so you could just kindly say something about them not usually eating biscuits or something. Tricky situation though. Are you really good friends with her, or is it more that the kids get on? I think if she’s a great friend and you enjoy her company etc. and the kids all get on, then maybe the pros outweigh the cons and you might have to accept that your DC’s are going to eat some foods you’d rather they didn’t on those days. I guess if the above doesn’t work and you’re really not comfortable you might have to reduce how often you see her?


Falafel19 · 21/11/2019 12:31

My 4 year old eats all day long, it drives me mad, he is constantly asking for food saying he's hungry. He won't eat bigger portions at meals but will eat a decent portion imo, so grazes the whole time. My only consolation is that he does seem genuinely hungry because he will eat anything I give him as a snack when he does ask, fruit, brown bread, plum tomatoes, nuts, porridge, hummus and veg, etc. He's not overweight at all but is tall for his age. It's embarrassing going to friends houses because he eyes up any fruit or food their kids have, I always have to have food with me for him!


BillHadersNewWife · 21/11/2019 12:32

Tomato Hmm Really? Yours eat crisps, biscuits, bread, yogurts and chocolate between meals all day every day and they need "fattening up"

I don't think so.


Rainbowtheunicorn · 21/11/2019 12:33

I have a 16 month old and I have to give her snacks to keep her happy or she goes wild.

She eats well and still has 3 meals a day.

It’s okay to just say ‘no my kids aren’t allowed this’ though. You don’t need to give them all the same thing.


Pinkblueberry · 21/11/2019 12:34

YANBU. I have found this from the moment my son was weaning age - all the other mums I met at baby groups constantly handing their babies bread stick and crisp like snacks (healthy enough baby foods I’m sure, but it still seemed really unnecessary and I just didn’t get why Confused waste of money too!) Even now my DS who is 18 months only has one snack - usually some fruit or cheese between breakfast and lunch, nothing in between and I provide the same for when he’s at his childminders - she hasn’t accused me of starving him yet! I think some parents do it for distraction, or just think their children need it. I think it’s probably a major cause of childhood obesity to be honest - if you’re constantly snacking you never learn to understand hunger signals. You just learn to eat for the sake of it.


moita · 21/11/2019 12:35

I have the same thing with a friend of mine. She brings cookies and toddler snacks everywhere and then my toddlers start asking for chocolate etc.

To be honest I just accept it now. She's a great friend and I don't think it's going to ruin my children. But YANBU it is a bit infuriating.

My DD is tiny so I give her fattening healthy snacks but it's hard when they are given junk by others


Rainbowtheunicorn · 21/11/2019 12:36

@Pinkblueberry I think that’s judgemental.

If you have a difficult baby/ toddler that cries a lot sometimes snacks do help. I could never get DD into a pram without giving her something. She cried all day! (Still does occasionally). As long as it’s all balanced and healthy I don’t see an issue.


Pinkblueberry · 21/11/2019 12:36

He won't eat bigger portions at meals but will eat a decent portion imo, so grazes the whole time.

You could easily turn those phrases around - he grazes the whole time so will then not eat bigger portions...


tomatosoup4 · 21/11/2019 12:37

@BillHadersNewWife funnily enough some people can eat what they want and not gain weight. I'm a size 8 and have give birth 5 times.

Yours eat crisps, biscuits, bread, yogurts and chocolate between meals all day every day and they need

Well yes when they are not at school.


peachgreen · 21/11/2019 12:37

I think children must all be different. DD eats her meals with relish but very rarely asks for snacks - she has one a day, after she wakes up from her nap, usually fruit or occasionally a biscuit as a treat. And her meals aren't huge. This is despite the fact that I've made a conscious effort to be relaxed about food and teach her to eat when she's hungry and stop when she's full (a lesson I never learned!). I reckon a second child could be totally different though, so I try not to judge anyone else's methods.

The one thing I am determined to avoid though is giving her food when she's bored. So if she's whinging we always try changing activity first. It works almost every time.


Pinkblueberry · 21/11/2019 12:39

@Rainbowtheunicorn I think you misunderstood me - I said people do it for distraction, as you’ve confirmed, that doesn’t mean I’m judging anyone for that.


PinkyU · 21/11/2019 12:40

It’s horses for courses, her children may be natural grazers, not eating large means but instead smaller meals and snacks throughout the day. Your children may be different.

What is unreasonable is your apparent inability to make a parental choice for your children and then stick to it. You’re an adult and are caving to peer pressure, I mean you’ve actually started providing the food you don’t want your kids to have yourself, that’s insane!! What kind of example is that to set to your own lo’s?

Next time you’re together and she offers snacks, just say “no thanks, we’re reducing the amount of snacking they’re doing between meals”, and for goodness sake stop taking out food you don’t want your lo’s to eat.


UnderneathTheMangoTree · 21/11/2019 12:40

You could see her less...or just really level with her and say "No, X doesn't need a snack now...she won't eat her tea"
I am thinking of seeing her just once a week, but it makes me sad because we get on well and I enjoy her company.

It has also gone past the point where I can say that my kids are not having any of her snacks. I did try it the first year (we've known each other for the years) but it made me feel really uncomfortable - DC1 whining and begging, me trying to distract him with a piece of banana made me feel like an excessively strict mum who should just chill out, so after 6 months or so I let it go.

OP posts:

billandbenflowerpotmen1 · 21/11/2019 12:42

I think the problem is that many people think that a child being hungry needs to automatically have that hunger sated. So every time a child opens it mouth to complain of being hungry a breadstick is produced!
Its really OK for a child to feel hungry, they won't die and it's not unhealthy.


UnderneathTheMangoTree · 21/11/2019 12:44

What is unreasonable is your apparent inability to make a parental choice for your children and then stick to it.
I agree with this, in this case I think I am scared of jeopardising our friendship.

OP posts:

Basilicaofthemind · 21/11/2019 12:46

It annoys me massively. As soon as a toddler cries because they can’t have the toy they want a snack is thrust at them. It’s used as distraction and as a sop against dealing with real emotion. It’s not good for the body to have a constant income of sugars (carbs in breadsticks and rice cakes give just as much of an insulin spike as refined sugars) and it’s not good for establishing long term healthy eating to associate food with comfort.


Passthecherrycoke · 21/11/2019 12:46

Constantly eating? Really? It can’t be constant. How often do you see her? The school children can’t be constantly eating, and I assume the 3 year old will be at school next year? It’s quite a time limited problem, I think id try and relax a bit


BillHadersNewWife · 21/11/2019 12:47

How about this, treat the days you see her as "small meal days"

Kids are very malleable. Feed them a smaller meal that day when they get home.

Take some snacky versions of proper food with you to hers. So rather than fight it, make it work for you.


PinkyU · 21/11/2019 12:47

I really agree with you billandben, as a society we definitely over feed our children and have lost all perspective of a healthy body for young children.

A sentence I read recently really struck a cord with me: “eat until you’re not hungry, not until you’re full”.


Rainbowtheunicorn · 21/11/2019 12:48

Could you try giving them a bigger lunch so they don’t eat the snacks?

I think it would be a shame to pull back from the friendship because of this. But I get it much be tricky. My nieces is allowed to drink coke (age 4!) and lives off chocolate and it’s hard work to have to say no to the other children when they are together.

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