Take back control of snack time, with routines, rationing and rules

Are your kids constantly asking you what they can have to eat next? Or maybe it’s you, who keeps raiding the cupboards. I’m not going to pretend that I am good at resisting the temptation to snack, but you can reduce snacking by doing these three things.

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The 3 R’s – Routine, Rationing and Rules can all help to reduce snacking

Eat at routine times

Have set meal and snack times. This means that everyone should in theory be full up enough not to want to eat in between times and will reduce snacking.

Space meal and snack times with a good gap between them. Then you (and/ or your kids) won’t be so full up that you don’t want your meals.

When my kids were much younger, they would have breakfast, a mid-morning snack, lunch, mid afternoon snack and then dinner. I ended up joining in with them. We’ve all got out of that habit now that they are older, but it worked really well at the time.

This is just an example and it’s up to you how many snack slots you need in your day. Find a system that works for you and adjust it as things change.

Ration out food to reduce snacking

Put limits on the amount of snacks that can be eaten and what everyone is allocated for the day. It’s a bit like sending your kid off to primary school with a packed lunch – they can’t eat anything extra because they don’t have anything else with them. You could make a pack up at the beginning of the day with the snacks for each person to reduce snacking. The nice thing about this is that you can let them decide when to eat them and they feel in control.

Get the snack portion sizes right too. Just before lockdown I finally got round to buying some tiny tubs* to put raisins in. They are a great reusable replacement for little boxes of raisins. As well as making them easy to transport, they limit the amount of raisins eaten in one go. I bought them to give them at school pick up, but they work equally well at home too.

It is also usually cheaper to buy a bigger packet of something. Then decant the leftovers into boxes, tins or tubs to use another time. Always make sure you price check first though!

Set rules over which foods can be eaten when

Set rules over which foods can be eaten outside of meal times. You can have different rules during the week to on the weekends. I find this helpful to limit the amount of sugary and salty foods eaten. For example you could say that outside of set meal and snack times family members can only snack on fruit and vegetables. Perhaps you will only allow sweet foods on the weekends.

You might find that just doing one of these things helps. But you can do some or all of them – whatever works for you.

If you are looking for some ideas for snacks check out my list of 5 homemade zero waste snacks