Part of my summer that seems inevitable is the phrase "Mom, I'm hungry." Over and over and over and over..... you get the picture. Now, I have a boy, he's nearly 11 years old and I get that filling him up takes some doing, but here is a conversation that takes place multiple times a day -
AJ: Mom, I'm hungry.
Me: You just finished eating.
AJ: I know, but I'm hungry
Me: What do you want?
AJ: I don't know. What can I have.
Me: Fruit, string cheese, yogurt, carrots.... Goes away for 2 min ...
AJ: Can I have chips?
Me: No, you already had chips today
AJ: So what can I have?
Me: Fruit, string cheese, yogurt, carrots... Goes away for 4 min ...
AJ: Do I have to have one of those?
ME: Then what do you want????
AJ: Can I have dry cereal?
Me: You already had cereal today....
AJ: I guess I'll have some fruit. ... Goes away for 2 minutes...
AJ: Mom, can I have an apple?
AAAAGGGHHHH! Every. Single. Day. Over and over. So, I came up with something that I'm hoping will help us both end this cycle.
I did some research online for the recommended daily servings in each food group for an 11 year old boy. I grabbed a stack of colored index cards: red for protein, green for vegetables, purple for dairy, yellow for grains, and blue for fruit. Each index card represents one serving, listed on one are the examples of what is a serving is for that group. On others I have post it notes to list what we actually have in the house that would be a serving.
So now, I can take away the cards for what I'm planning for dinner, he makes his own breakfast and lunch most days and will take away the cards for these. The cards that are left will give him a better idea of what he should be eating for snacks. If he is picking something off of his cards and isn't duplicating something he's already had that day - he doesn't need to ask me!
Ahhhh, I can already hear the silence! Of course, we're not there yet. It will take awhile of us working together for him to be comfortable with serving sizes, combining groups togethèr, and knowing what food goes into what group.
I want to be clear, this isn't a diet. He's not watching his weight, counting calories, etc. He is allowed to not eat all the servings, or to eat more if he is hungry. This is just a learning tool so he can have a visual clue of what he should be eating daily and to try to introduce more variety! He forgets that he has more options than chips and cereal.
I also didn't include desserts, candy, sweets, drinks, etc. He's allowed them on occassion and can ask for them - but he doesn't need a constant visual reminder!
I hope this idea resonates with you if you are in the same situation. Use it as a jumping off point and tweak it until it works - then leave me a comment and let me know what's working for you!