I’m sounding more and more like my mother with every passing day. Or even my grandmother.

 

As I parent my children, I hear my mother’s words falling out of my mouth: “do it right the first time, then you won’t have to do it again”, “put that back where you found it”, “I don’t know where it is, maybe it’s in the Gleesons (insert your own neighbours name here)” and “hunger is the best sauce”.

 

Many of these wisdoms I pooh poohed as a teenager and young adult (we never did in fact find anything in the Gleesons for a start!). However, since I’ve become a mother, I've certainly seen the value of some of this advice and none more so than “hunger is the best sauce”.

 

Generally speaking, we are afraid to let our children experience hunger. As a parent, I am terrified that my children won’t have eaten their school lunch or will leave half their dinner, ending in hunger.

 

 

So we give our children snacks. We feed them on demand (more-or-less) - a snack here, a piece of fruit there, a packet of crisps while we’re in the shops and so on. So when they come to the dinner table, they aren’t actually that hungry and this is why they’re not eating their dinner (or maybe you’ve burnt it?!!).

 

And as for the bowl of cereal after dinner or the “I’m starving” cry five minutes after mealtime? I’ve cut all that out now and the rule in our house is, if you don’t eat your dinner there is nothing else to eat afterwards - period. This is in the hope that they will eat enough at mealtimes to keep them going until the next meal without snacking.

 

 

We need to let our children experience hunger - this helps them to regulate their appetite and ultimately their enjoyment of food. You know yourself: you eat a large lunch and then three hours later you’re sitting down to dinner - do you enjoy your dinner? Not really as you haven’t allowed time to “build up an appetite” - there I go, sounding like my mother again!

 

And the moral of the story is; minimise snacking and maximise nutrition by allowing them to go hungry between meals!

As a mum of 3, I know how difficult, challenging and difficult (worth saying twice!) it can be, feeding them a healthy, balanced diet. A couple of years ago, I left my full-time job and retrained as a Health and Nutrition Coach - much to the disgust of my children. My goal is to teach children about the joys of healthy eating (so yes, I know how difficult it is!) through my business, The Cool Food School (www.thecoolfoodschool.ie). I also like to run, drink coffee and ignore the housework.

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