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Tired of hearing "I'm hungry" every 5 minutes? Try this feeding hack.

Updated: Jun 5, 2023

Does the soundtrack to your summer sound like this?


"Mom, I'm hungry."


"Mom, can I have a snack?"


"Mom, I'm hungry."


"Mom, can I have a popsicle?"


"Mom, I'm hungry."


"Mom, can I have a piece of toast?"





Do your kids badger you for food ALL. DAY. LONG?



My kids used to, until I instituted this simple "feeding hack."


I sit down and eat a meal with my kids every 3-4 hours.

At each meal or snack I give them a protein and a carb.

I try to add a fruit and/or veg at every meal.


That's it.


I let them eat as much as they want at mealtime. If they leave the table they are done. If they ask for snack between meals, I tell them they will have to wait for mealtime.


No force feeding.

No pressure at mealtime.

No eating between meals.

No grazing.


We eat breakfast as soon as the kids get up. We eat a snack 3 hours later. (Snacks are like a mini meal, we all sit down at the table or counter and eat the same thing.) We eat lunch about 3 hours after that. We eat another snack about 3 hours after that. And then we end the day with dinner 3-4 hours after that.


It's a loose schedule, but it sets up a routine for our day. And I follow it. Day after day, year after year.


Yes, it's work.


But I rarely hear the phrase "Mom, I'm hungry." And I know my kids are eating well because I'm eating with them.


Are you wondering what this schedule looks like?


Here it is during the school year:


6:30-7:00 breakfast

11am lunch at school

4pm sit down snack at home

7 or 7:30 pm dinner


Here's our summer meal schedule:


6:30 am breakfast for early risers

9am breakfast for late risers/snack for early risers

12-1 lunch

3-4 sit down snack

7-8 dinner


You might be thinking that this is a lot of meals!


It is a lot of meals.


But mealtime isn't just about food, it's also about connection.



Having sit down mealtimes every 3-4 hours facilitates family connection and connection is the key to happy families. "Studies have found that more frequent family meals are associated with higher diet quality, lower rates of disordered eating, better weight status, lower risk for depression and substance abuse, and improved well-being (1)."


Kids who sit and eat with their families do better at life because:

a) they aren't "hangry"

b) they don't worry about when their next meal is

c) they have set times every day (mealtimes) where they can feel connected and loved


Mealtime isn't just about healthy eating! It's about well-being!


Kids in daycare eat this way too. Daycares have set mealtimes to maintain order and foster connection between teachers and children! I've seen some very nice mealtimes at the daycares that DDI Vantage partners with!



If your kids are at home with you all day, are you wondering what to serve for all those meals?


Starting out, just eat what you already eat. Simply save it for a sit down meal instead of eating on the run or letting everyone graze. If you like poptarts and chips, eat pop tarts and chips. Just turn off the TV and make everyone sit at the table (or if you don't have a table: use the counter, or couch, a blanket or kitchen floor) while they eat. The goal is to all sit together. Then "close the kitchen" until the next meal/snack time.



You can start adding in healthier options once your family gets the hang of set mealtimes.


Want some ideas for quick healthy meals?


Here's my menu for the week with links to all the recipes:


Monday



breakfast - peanut butter oatmeal (protein = pb & milk & oats, carb = oats)


snack - green smoothie (protein = pb & milk, carb = banana)



snack - apples (carb) + peanut butter (protein)


dinner - giant green salad with cucumber, kidney beans, bell pepper, avocado, cheese, and torn up bread, vinegar and olive oil dressing. Think your kids hate salad? Read this: https://www.realmomnutrition.com/dippable-salad-for-kids/


Tuesday



breakfast - oatmeal panackes


snack - green smoothie (protein = pb & milk, carb = banana)


lunch - cottage cheese + triscuits + apples + carrots


snack - green grapes (carb) + cheese slices (protein)


dinner - cabbage ramen noodles + walnut broccoli + watermelon



Wednesday


breakfast - berry oatmeal


snack - green smoothie (protein = pb & milk, carb = banana)


lunch - leftover cabbage ramen with almonds + watermelon


snack - apples (carb) + peanut butter (protein)


dinner - homemade pizza topped with pesto + zucchini + pepperoni


Thursday


breakfast - pancakes


snack - green smoothie (protein = pb & milk, carb = banana)


lunch - tabouleh, hummus, tzatziki naan bread + watermelon


snack - plain yogurt with honey (protein) + berries (carb)


dinner - leftovers from lunch



Friday


breakfast - oatmeal


snack - green smoothie (protein = pb & milk, carb = banana)


lunch - pbj + carrots + apples


snack - pancakes + peanut butter + applesauce


dinner - out to eat (headed on a 10 day road trip - will post that menu next Monday)




What do you think about having your family eat on a schedule? Do you think it would work for your family? Write to Nicole and let her know: nicolebuhlerRD@gmail.com


References



Further reading about family meals:


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