For years, I've tried nearly everything to conquer mealtime struggles with my young kids, yet I somehow never stopped to think about a mindless daily ritual that was derailing any positive gains I tried to make at the dinner table. Unbeknownst to me, no matter how I meal prepped and grocery shopped, any hope I had in getting my kids to eat their grilled chicken and green beans at dinner was dashed by the seemingly simple afternoon snack.
I wasn't the only parent in the dark.
"Most people go along with children's food preferences more at snacks than they do at meals," wrote nutritionist Ellyn Satter, author of How to Get Your Kid to Eat.
I somehow never stopped to think about a mindless daily ritual that was derailing any positive gains I tried to make at the dinner table.
And although she agreed that it's OK to be more relaxed with quicker snacks than meals you spend time preparing, she made an eye-opening declaration: take snacks just as seriously as you do meals.
Because most children can't last from one meal to the next, snacks are an important part of the day's food supply, yet here I was, tossing some animal crackers in the general direction of my fussy toddler while I tried to cook a healthy-yet-appealing-to-a-picky-3-year-old meal before someone - myself included - broke down in tears.
"A snack is not a food handout," Satter affirmed. "A snack has a planned time and place, and like a meal, represents food that you more-or-less control."
After reading her book, I set three snack-related rules for my kids (and, let's be honest, myself), and after a few weeks, we've seen results.