Monday, July 31, 2006

We've been going through carb withdrawals here. Generally my children eat well, but I was finding that their consumption of crackers and 'Os" was becoming excessive and was probably contributing to their smaller appetites at meal time. As well, every time I turned around they asked, "can I have a snack," or "crackers". I had to cut the cord and instill some definitive eating patterns.
I've decided that cracker time is limited to the afternoon, and once they finish the crackers I give them, that's it. They have to wait for set snack times, and then their choices are yogurt, cheese, or fruit. There has been a lot of whining, but I have seen a definite improvement in the amount they eat during meal time. I'm glad I curbed the carb/snack consumption now, because I'm sure it would have been much harder had I waited any longer. I now see how this can snowball into something much more harmful, creating eating habits that are hard to break.
We keep all cracker and snacks (which is usually only tortilla chips, as we are not a snack/chip family) in a cupboard out of their reach. It is high above a counter so they can't even open the cupboard and see what is inside. This is helpful especially since my oldest has taken to getting himself something when he wants it. The other day he went into the fridge and pulled out four yogurt cups, opened them all, and was sitting at the table eating them all. At least it was yogurt and it wasn't something like ice cream, but it really got me thinking. The foods that you don't want your children to have access to at all hours of the day, need to be kept out of reach - and out of sight.
My grandfather always kept a bottom cupboard in the dining room filled with goodies for the grandchildren. It was a place we knew we could go to find snacks, candy and all that stuff we practically had to beg for at home. I'll bet my parents we glad that we only had the opportunity to raid the cupboard once a week when we visited my grandparents. However, my aunt has always - and still does - had a very accessible cupboard filled with cookies, crackers, snacks and whatever goodies you can imagine. The cupboard was always accessible - not only to us, but to the kids - at any hour off the day. What a temptation!(I do have to say that my cousins don't have a weight problem and are very good about eating their meals)
At this stage, with two little ones, I want to keep ensure that they don't have that temptation. I want them to learn about good eating choices and to understand that a snack - whether a cookie, cracker or chips - is something that is an occasional treat, not something that is for consumption at all times. I can see how children get to a point of no return when it comes to eating these foods - they get used to it as a child, and when they're teenagers the habit is hard to break, and even much harder when they become adults.
I agree, snack are easy. They make my kids happy and they keep them quiet for a period of time, but in the long run, it will be much easier to limit them at this time, than to wait until its too late.
Until next time, enjoy time with Food, Family and Friends.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Ice Cream Days of Summer
Saturday night's Food Network special, Scoop got me thinking. It was a reality-based show in which contestants competed to have their dream ice cream flavor sold in stores. The finalists' flavors were quite tasty (I know because I served on the judging panel) and some, quite exotic. The great thing about the contest was that consumers were able to take their love for ice cream and create something that was truly their own. As the contestants progressed through the process of making (and tasting) their dream flavors, you could see their eyes light up as the final product was set in front of them. Ice cream is a pleasure for so many of us.
We don't keep ice cream in the freezer on a regular basis - mainly because we would go through way too many cartons in a week. It is also a challenge, when my son knows that there is ice cream in the freezer, he asks for it constantly. I'd rather my children eat ice cream on a limited basis, for special times or certain occasions. And of course, as a great refresher on a hot summer afternoon. To sort of limit the begging for ice cream, I came up with a little disciplinary device that seems to be working.
Being that my 3-year old is working on impulse issues (i.e. being gentle with his sister, sharing and not grabbing toys, listening to us, etc), I created a Grayson's Day board in which each of the issues we want him to work on are listed on it. They include, being gentle with his sister, sharing, sitting down (and staying there) while eating, brushing teeth, among others. As he accomplishes one of these, a little magnetic man moves to the next space. If he doesn't, the man moves backwards. When this little magnetic man (whom Grayson believes is himself), reaches a certain point, Grayson gets some ice cream.
To make it even more special, we are going to make the ice cream that he gets as 'reward.'
This has turned into a great opportunity to get him involved with creating his reward, and I know exactly what ingredients are included, monitoring fat content as well as flavor. The home ice cream maker gives us the opportunity to make an infinite array of flavors, and brings us together in the kitchen.
There are a wide variety of ice cream makers available on the market, most of which are kid friendly and give them a sense of accomplishment in the kitchen. By creating a special "Grayson's Flavor" my son has even more incentive to follow the rules.

I'm off to have some ice cream.
Until next time, enjoy Food, Family and Friends.