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Eating after Dinner?!?!
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An_221972 posted:
I have two children ages 6 and 11 who are both very active children. Dinner time is usually around 6:00pm every night. Most nights my children eat half of their dinner and save the rest for a little later. Around eight they usually finish their dinner, ask for something else to eat and then a dessert. It is a constant battle between my husband and I on whether or not to...
1. make them sit and eat all of their dinner in one sitting
2. give them more when they are hungry later
3. give dessert
I have always taught my kids to eat until you are full rather than eat everything on your plate. My husband believes otherwise, that you should eat what is given you PERIOD. My children are both at healthy weights. I grew up healthy with a healthy weight and learned that eating a little every few hours increased my metabolism. My husband grew up obese and guzzled everything he ate.

Can someone please help? I can stand the feeling of sending my children to bed hungry.

Thanks!!!

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1. Should children be made to finish all of their dinner in one sitting?
2. Is eating again after dinner appropriate?
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Emmyl responded:
Could you maybe give them half the serving that you usually do at mealtimes and then maybe a good snack or something later? Maybe they would eat everything on their plate, appeasing your husband, and then the snack later would satisfy them. You could do a healthy snack, but something that is filling, like peanut butter crackers or popcorn or something. Sounds like they've just gotten into the habit of eating half now and half later.
 
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MamasLuv368 responded:
I have 3 children ages 7, 4, and 2. They don't eat much in one sitting which used to worry me. But my doctor has always said that it's fine for them to eat smaller portions more often. We come home around 4pm everyday which is when they have a small snack. Then Dinner at 6:30 and then they get hungry again between 7:30 and 8 so I give them another small snack before bed which is at 8:30. I find that it helps them sleep better at night too. I don't see anything wrong with letting them finish their dinner later on. I was one of those kids that was forced to sit at the table and finish my food and I hated it because I really wasn't hungry anymore. I don't really see the point in it. Kids will eat when they're hungry.
 
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fcl responded:
How about eating later on? I live in Europe and at 4 pm there's a snack of (usually) a yoghurt or a glass of milk and a piece of fruit. We eat dinner at 7 pm.

I really think that you have the right idea - eating till you've had enough is much better for them than forcing them to eat absolutely everything that is on their plate (although I fully understand where that inclination comes from).
 
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baby1at35 replied to fcl's response:
I agree with the pp that said put smaller portions on their plate. That way they will be more likely to clear the plate, DH would be happy with that and then a snack before bed.
I find that I tend to put way more food on the plate than they will eat. The rule of thumb is 1 tablespoon food for their age.
Not that is always the case but kind of a nice rule of thumb.
 
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dgarner11 responded:
I dont make my dd finish everything if she says she is full. I do try to get her to at least eat the meat/veggies and then she can have dessert (usually yogurt or minigo..sometimes a sweet).

She always has a snack before bed though, I got tired of having her wake up at 1 am hungry
 
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Louise_WebMD_Staff responded:
Eating late is a bad habit to get into. (As our diet expert says "Eat after 8, gain lots of weight")

On the other hand, forcing a child to be a "clean plate club" member has proven to cause struggles for adults who feel like they must finish everything.

My kids eat what they eat at dinner. Whether they don't finish because they are antsy for something or because they don't like what is served--dinner is dinner and that is that. No food is served until breakfast the next day unless it is an incredibly special occasion. We don't do desserts on a regular basis either.

Our dietitian in the food and cooking community says that going to bed a little hungry is healthy for adults. I don't know what she would say about children though.

I would suggest a healthy snack-perhaps a salad or veggies of some type about an hour before dinner, then dinner.
 
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beachgirl64 replied to Louise_WebMD_Staff's response:
We follow the same plan as Louise, we serve dinner @ 6pm, they eat what they eat, then nothing till morning. We have adopted my in-laws habit of ending every meal with fresh fruit. The entire dinner process takes about an hour with serving, eating, talking and so forth, so we aren't eating the fruit till around 7pm. This has worked well for us.
 
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Jennax907 responded:
I would say No to #1 and yes to #2 (as long as it's not eating out of boredom). I'm not sure that I'm in agreement with some of the posts. I was a very active child and involved in multiple sports. I was offered a snack before bed time. I've never had weight issues. I also will do the same for my children. We will have dinner and then if they are still hungry before bed, they will get a snack (healthy of course). I think total caloric consumption is the key to maintaining weight. But JMO
 
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Boyzmomee responded:
Children should eat when they are hungry. That being said regular meals and snacks should be available/offered.

You answered your own question. Your children are at a normal weight now but if you follow your husband's advice they won't be later.
 
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Boyzmomee replied to Louise_WebMD_Staff's response:
Calories are calories no matter what time they are eaten.
 
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Andrew Adesman, MD replied to Boyzmomee's response:
Are they eating a large or late snack in the aftenroon? I am surprised that both children are not very hungry at dinnertime. If you were to give a snack 1-hour before dinner, I am concerned that it would further reduce their appette for dinner.

I would offer a reasonable serving size at dinner. Children should not generally have to clean their plate. However, if you do not think that they ate reasonably, then dessert should be withheld. Dessert can be given later in the evening as a small bedtime snack if they ate reasonably for dinner. From a convenience standpoint for you, I would discourage having dinner served in two halves.
 
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Louise_WebMD_Staff replied to Boyzmomee's response:
I tend to agree, but there is compelling research that this isn't the case.
 
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starrmidnight responded:
I have been obese most of my life. I am finally as an older adult learning to eat correctly. However, I taught my kids to not do what I was taught. As adults they are in the right weight category and very active. The clean your plate mentality was good for America when food was hard to come by and people worked in fields all day. As your kids become adults they will keep that eat it all even if you are full habit, and will suffer weight issues I promise you this.

If your kids are full at dinner and did not eat it all do not make them over eat. However, if in an hour they are wanting sweet treats then they are really wanting that sweet treat. Sweet treats should be limited to special occasions, and weekends. Knowing you are adding sweets to the rotation for weekend meals watch the fat and calorie content of that weekend meal.

Most of us do not consume enough fruit in our day.
On weekdays feed them dinner and before bed if they are hungry give them fresh fruit, not canned. This will set up an excellent life time habit. If they do not want the non sugar food for late night then they really are not hungry are they?

Also, saving popcorn and sweet treats for the weekend makes it more special, and can be great family time.

I would start of serving smaller portions for sure, making sure that they are getting in all the veggies and not just eating the meat and saying they are full. Also this might help hubby by them eating all on the plate issue if the plate starts off smaller. Regardless I would give him some literature on how children should eat, to help retrain his mind. Don't worry many of of have had to retrain. Many of us need to and don't, just look at wal-mart and you will see how we are not getting it yet.

I hope this helps


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