Set meal and snack times.
Regular meal and snack times can help promote even blood sugar levels and consistent energy. It’s hard to be mindful when blood sugar levels in the body are going up and down. Our bodies thrive on rhythm and predictability. Some children can go longer between meals than others, but if a child needs to eat more frequently than every two hours, something is off. They need some help getting back into balance.
One of the ways to do this is to provide meals at roughly the same time every day. This way their body gets used to eating at certain times and has an easier time regulating blood sugar. If they don’t eat much at one meal, it’s fine because there will be another one after a reasonable amount of time. You know when it will be and so do they. As their body adjusts to a rhythm they will start being hungry at those times and not as hungry in between meals.
A typical day for a child under five might look like: 7:30 am breakfast, 10 am snack, 12 pm lunch, nap or rest time, 3:30 pm snack, 5:30 pm dinner. Some children need four meals, others need five. Every child is different. Every family is different. So, I encourage you to find meal times that work well for everyone and stick with them the best you can.
Another thing I do is to think of “snacks” as meals, too. This way I am more in the mindset of serving leftovers like nori rolls and sautéed broccoli instead of raisins and crackers. With young children, it’s hard to predict their appetite. Sometimes they will sit and consume large amounts of food, while other times they will hardly eat a thing. For example, if the afternoon “snack” is the one where they are hungriest, I want it to matter nutritionally. I don’t want them to fill up on sugar and white flour. Plus, when they are hungry, that’s the best time to get those vegetables in.
This series starts here with Mindful Eating for Children.
This series continues with Mindful Eating for Children: Connecting with Nature.