I just read an interesting article entitled, "I Didn’t Let My Kids Snack for a Week. Here’s What Happened." It reminded me again of my puzzlement over how we got to the point of believing that children can't go a few hours without food. I've always seen that attitude as a problem. A First World problem, to be sure, but still a strange and annoying problem.
It's true that my childhood was in the dim past, but I'm certain that snacks were few and far between. Yes, there was sometimes a glass of milk and cookies when I came home from school (really!), while my mother crafted dinner and we talked about my day. But generally we reserved eating for mealtime: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Eating between meals was frowned upon for many reasons: expense, mess to clean up, and above all, it would "spoil your dinner." Kids were expected to be hungry when they came to the table; it made us less likely to complain about the food.
When our own children came along, we pretty much continued the policy, but already society was starting to change. Soon you couldn't have an outside activity—from sports practices to Sunday school classes—without snacks. Parents began to feel abusive if they didn't offer food every time their children whined, "I'm h-u-n-g-r-y!" I don't think the increase in the number of children who are picky eaters is coincidental.
Spoiler Alert: So what happened when the author restricted snacking? Win-win-win.
I’m definitely going to continue feeding my family in this way. They ate a great variety of foods, and our time at the table together was actually enjoyable.
I didn’t spend it nagging, and they didn’t spend it whining. They arrived to the table hungry, and they ate. My house is cleaner, my kids are happier, and I feel way more in control.
My children have less [sic] meltdowns because they are better nourished. And I have fewer meltdowns because there are fewer demands on me.
I'm not against all snacking. I like snacks myself. Too much. But when it deprives children of the right to be hungry enough to appreciate good food, eaten at the table with family—there's a problem.