My kids always want to eat when they’re bored.
As a mom I feel its my job to help my kids work through their emotions, and responses to those emotions… so they don’t grow up to be adults who eat whenever they’re bored, or angry or sad. I want my kids to eat when they’re hungry, and be able to recognize when they’re not.
Which is where my carrot theory came to life. I developed this over the course of 6 years and tested it on my three kids (and my husband), so far the results are looking good. 🙂
The basic theory: If you’ve eaten a complete and healthy meal, in addition to a nutritious snack, you shouldn’t need to spend all day snacking in the kitchen.
Like most kids, my kids get bored and their first go-to is to ask for food.
My response is always: Eat a carrot
Their response is almost always “I don’t want a carrot, I want ____ (Insert something from the pantry that usually has less than stellar nutrition)____.
I remind them that they had a large breakfast, in addition to a healthy snack, and talk them through the idea that they might just be eating out of boredom, but if they are hungry eat a carrot.
(My kids LOVE carrots so this isn’t asking them to eat the equivalent of raw kale, but when they’re bored, eating carrots doesn’t sound satisfying.
So this goes a few different ways.
1. They are actually bored. They turn down the carrot, start playing some new and exciting creative game they came up with and forget they were ever hungry.
2. They eat one carrot, as to say “ok I’ll give this a try and see if it’s satisfying” and almost always decide that they were probably just bored and would rather play something fun and exciting. Again they forget minutes later how STARVING they were.
3. They eat the carrot and ask for 5 more carrots and begin inhaling carrots.
* This tells me they probably are actually hungry and we begin to discuss additional nutritious options, that will fill them up.
One carrot and three outcomes.
I even use the carrot theory on myself. I find myself searching through the fridge wanting to eat something. I tell myself “eat a carrot, Caroline”. I respond to myself “I don’t want a carrot” As to where I reply back to myself “Then you’re not really hungry Caroline, you’re bored!”.
It’s not science, but it’s pretty darn close. Try it, it works.