I’m about ready to put a lock on the pantry door, because my kids are constantly getting in there and stealing food. I’m not even sure they care which item they manage to sneak into the playroom as long as they get to snack all day long. And while I think the pantry lock might be an easy fix, I’m sure they’d soon find a way to either break it or convince the oldest to climb up and unlock it. Other options are necessary. Here's my plan.

Set a Schedule

With my firstborn, she has always been allowed to eat whenever she wanted because she has cystic fibrosis. Because of this, we fell into a habit of letting our other two children follow the same rule, even though they don’t have cystic fibrosis. Once we saw how out-of-control the snacking had become, we knew we needed to stick to a schedule. Breakfast at 7:30 a.m., a snack at 10:00 a.m., then lunch at noon, a snack at 2:00 or 3:00 p.m., depending on the day, and dinner at 6:00 p.m.

It isn’t always easy, especially when we’re on the go, but it is worth it. They are eating more of their dinner each night and there is much less whining. Unless I buy fruit snacks. There’s always whining for fruit snacks.

Buy Healthy Snacks

There are so many options out there for snacks that kids love that aren’t going to give them the sugar rush. Fruits, low sugar yogurt, organic crackers, and granola bars are a few of our favorites. Whole food choices are the best way to go, so watch those labels. This way, if they are having an extra hungry day, they aren’t filling up on junk.

Hide the Good Stuff

If you have to have not-so-healthy food in the house, like we do because of cystic fibrosis, hide it, even from yourself! Put it on the top shelf of the pantry so that it isn’t at the kids’ eye levels, or yours. You’ll be less likely to grab it and so will they.

Make Sure They Eat Enough Protein and Fiber

If your kids eat cereal for every breakfast, they will be hungry again quickly. Make sure they get protein and fiber in their meals and snacks so they stay full for longer. It will cut down on their need to snack.

Stay Active

If the kids are inside and bored, they are going to snack. They’ll want something to munch on while watching TV, just like you do. The more active they are outside playing and having fun, the less they will reach for food to cure their boredom.

Talk to your child’s pediatrician about any unhealthy habits you think your children might be forming.