Years ago I realized that I am not good at moderation, so it’s better for me to just not have something than to have it around and be tempted to overindulge. When it comes to snacks, I don’t buy bulk chocolate chips, or any other chips for that matter, and I tend not to keep snack food in the house.
If we have snacks, they are homemade from scratch snacks or fruit and vegetable snacks. That works for me, but I’ve been wondering if it’s really working for my kids.
Recently Josh pointed out a behavior he was concerned about: the kids go to his parents’ house and ask for a snack. My mother-in-law gives them a snack and then they ask for more. And more. And more. Until they have eaten WAY too much. This is pretty rude behavior, and it also makes me wonder why they are tempted to eat too much when they aren’t hungry.
The other time this happens is when we are at someone else’s house for playgroup or a play date. The playgroup mamas often have fun (but still fairly healthy) snacks like goldfish crackers and animal crackers and instead of just having one helping, my kids ask for more and more and more. Why do they do this?
I’m beginning to wonder if my keeping snacks out of the house entirely has created a problem for the kids, such that they see snacks as an all or nothing situation and feel the need to eat as much as they can in case they never get a fun snack again. I wonder if, in my quest to avoid overindulging, I have actually created a situation that primes them for overindulging. I think I may have accidentally put my kids in snack famine mode.
A friend told me about an experiment where children were allowed unfettered access to M&Ms for a period of weeks. At first they ate way to many M&Ms, but after they realized that the M&Ms would always be there, they slowed down and just ate a few here and there. Does the knowledge that good/special food is always there promote moderation?
Maybe I should try keeping some fun snacks around and doling them out in small portions regularly. Perhaps that would help the kids avoid the temptation to eat too many snacks when they are elsewhere.
On the other hand, having snacks around would force me (and Josh) to avoid eating them too much and limit ourselves to small portions too.
What do you think? Do you have a snack policy for yourself or for your kids?
Photo credit: Nicholas Erwin on Flickr