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One of the things that causes a little chaos because it annoys me greatly, is my kids “stealing” food in the afternoons. When they come home from school, I provide them with a healthy snack and some juice. I know they are starving because they get home at 3pm and they eat lunch at 10:40 and 11:10. This snack should be enough to sustain them until we eat dinner around 5pm.

They should not be hungry after having a good healthy snack and some juice BUT they claim they are! Is it really hunger or are they bored? Has this just become such a habit that they expect to eat all afternoon?

I have tried to ensure that the snack I provide is not quick burning carbs and that they have enough of a serving to satisfy them, but on most afternoons when I get involved in switching out laundry or dealing with the dogs, I will hear the pitter patter of feet taking off from the kitchen to “escape” with their treasure which is usually another snack. I have found my son under his bed eating from the bag of pretzels. I have had my daughter hide empty bags in the couch and pretend she is still on her first snack. Not only does that create a problem with food, but it is being dishonest.

I have tried in the past to create a kid snack bin in the pantry with snacks they can pick themselves that are portioned correctly and are healthy. Most of the time, this works and they are content but then some days it’s almost as if I need to lock the pantry and the refrigerator to stop them from constantly eating from the moment they walk in the door until dinner time. Of course at dinner, they hardly eat because they have been grazing all afternoon! I have also put the snacks away to where they can’t get chairs and reach them and then I hear constantly all afternoon “I’m hungry” and “I’m thirsty”. This then leads to an escalation in to a tantrum when I say “no”.

If it were just my son, I could understand. He is one of those slow eaters so I have no doubt that he doesn’t have time to eat all his lunch at school. However, my daughter has a significant weight issue already at her age and I am really working to limit her intake as well as increase her physical activity. Perhaps with her I’m a bit overly sensitive because I don’t want her going through school being teased about her weight like I was and having a weight problem in to adulthood like I did.

So, I’m open for suggestions on how I can stop this feeding frenzy that occurs in the afternoons at my house and the eventual stealing of food and juice. Has anyone faced this issue before? One thing I’m going to work on is trying to keep them distracted in the afternoons to solve the problem if it is related to boredom but if it’s not, what do you do? I can’t feed them all afternoon and then expect them to eat dinner as well.

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