My two-year-old knows where I keep the snacks. In fact, he regularly pulls a step stool into the pantry and points to a bag of veggie chips or Annie’s Bunny Fruit Snacks. He sucks down yogurt packs at least four times a day and forgoes scrambled eggs and chicken nuggets in favor of salami sticks and pretzels. Yup, snacks are the glue that keeps our day together—my solution to 6:45 a.m. breakfasts when I’m too tired to even start a K-Cup, the in-car sustenance between errands and the pre-bedtime comfort food that gets everyone into their jammies.
When I look back at it, I realize I gave in to snacking because, most days, my attempts to serve a balanced meal proved to be too much effort. I’d make oatmeal and he would take one bite and run off. Even fixing a bowl of cereal was tiresome: He’d fish out the Os, arrange them on the table and leave me with a mushy mess. No wonder snacking spilled into dinner—at which point I didn’t have the energy to care, as long as he nibbled on something.
But ultimately, snacking started to unravel our day. My once adventurous eater became picky about what was on his plate. His mood dipped and he wouldn’t sit during dinner. His behavior even rubbed off on me, as I started prowling the pantry for snacks, irritated and hungry as afternoon approached.
We needed an intervention and we needed one stat. Which is why I vowed to go one week with mandatory sit-down breakfast, lunch and dinner and no impromptu snacking throughout the day. The rules: