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Anthony is heading into his tweens at almost 10 and in sports year round. This past season his eating habits have started to change as he enters his tweens. He is the youngest of 3 boys and I have learned with the older 2 that discussing proper eating habits with your child about this age helps tremendously. When I look back I can remember chuckling at the oldest walking away with an entire box of crackers only to find them devoured, but never did I even consider the actual ramifications and have discussions.
The next boy came along and I started with the attitude “..if I don’t buy it they can’t eat it…” and that wasn’t working because when he did get exposed to sweets or snacks he went nuts devouring them while he could. I began teaching him labels. It was simple like comparing 1 snack to the other or talking about cereals and the whys and why nots. I wasn’t just saying “no” to certain snacks but educating him as to exactly why I say no.
With Anthony I started at age 9, much earlier and he gets it. He never truly sits down and finishes an entire meal but rather is our little grazer. I am OK with that because I have learned some tricks along the way to balance what he eats whenever he is hungry and he is the healthiest, leanest and most active of the 3.
Buy Snack Bowls
I bought some portion snack bowls. If Anthony wants a snack he is allowed any from HIS snack shelf and only as much as what fits in the snack bowl. He is NEVER walking away with entire box of crackers to devour mindlessly in front of a game. Over snacking is never a fight nor is he ever too full for dinner when he can snack on his choice and stop before over eating.
Of course, I always explain my ‘WHY’ and I simply tell him that a snack is just that…a snack. No body his size is meant to devour a box of crackers so I show him the box. There is a serving size on all foods and if it says 13 crackers is a serving size then we count out 13 crackers together put them in the snack bowl and see what a real snack size truly is. He takes that to heart and I have even caught him studying a new snack box to count out a serving size by himself.
If They Aren’t Hungry, They Aren’t Hungry
I have never forced by boys to eat. I never kept them at the table until all of the food was gone. I personally felt that that was teaching them to eat out of habit and to be OK with eating even when they aren’t really hungry. Now, before some of you judge because I know many parents who’s style may differ form me they would finish their meals. My husband and I would take what they did not finish (if they left a significant amount) and put it in the microwave. When they came back an hour later hungry we would reheat their dinner and dessert came whenever dinner was done, even if it took them 2 shifts.
Keep Mini Meals On Hand
Mini meals? These are my go-to on busy practice nights and game days. What is considered a mini meal? Remember when they were younger there were toddler meals you can heat in a microwave? These are now widely available in healthy options like the Kidfresh meals. Kidfresh hides veggies and do not add anything artificial into their foods. Plenty for a toddler and a great snack or mini meal for tweens and teens!
He comes home from school starved and on practice days dinner comes after practice so his 3:30pm Kidfresh meal is healthy and tides him over until after practice much better than a handful of cookies and fruits snacks. He loves the Mac ‘n Cheese and the Super Duper Chicken Nuggets can be divided into 2 meals because there are 10 good size nuggets inside and 5 is a great size snack.
Kidfresh is even great tasting for Moms and Dads! How do I know? I may or may not heat one up for myself some days for lunch. Who can resist a good Mac ‘n Cheese made with real cheese! Your child gets healthy proteins, very little sodium and fats with hidden veggies and no GMO’s.
Besides Mac ‘n Cheese and nuggets you will find 10 main meal options in total and some come in value sizes. You also can find snacks, sides and breakfast options. Your tween can easily heat these up themselves in the microwave introducing that independence in cooking and a wholesome snack keeping them ‘proper’ full until their next meal. Learn more at Kidfresh including where to find these near you.