I'm really good at keeping a flexible schedule, but I'm not so good at controlling my children's every movement. I'm really good at putting reasonably nutritious meals on the table three times a day, but I'm not so good at limiting snacks in between. Since I've made some mistakes I'm at a point where I'm trying to teach healthy habits to the older children and make changes with the younger children.
I gave my children apple juice (100% juice, no added sugar) at an early age. I know why I did that, but I did not anticipate that it would translate into them not drinking water. It was pointed out to me how if a child drinks 3-4 cups of juice in a day they are taking in 1/3 of the calories they need in a day just in juice. Some of my children outright refuse water so it was then suggested that I use Crystal Light flavored drink mixes. These mixes have 5 calories in a serving as opposed to the 110 calories in a serving of apple juice. (I still have a mental struggle with going from the natural fruit sugar in juice to the sweetener in drink mixes.) Nonetheless,I made the switch. It took a few days to adjust, but there is no more complaining and now everyone is getting water in their bodies!
I think the fact that we are basically at home lends itself to different eating habits than if the children were in a traditional school setting. The kitchen is always available to them. They like to grab a snack whenever the thought strikes them. Aliza and Josiah watch their lessons on the computer so a snack is always a temptation to keep them busy while they are watching. (Of course a snack would have been nice to have in school when my teachers were less than exciting too! ha.)
After a day where eating habits particularly alarmed me, I came up with the idea of an "eating schedule." This chart works especially well with Aliza, but the concept is in effect with everyone. I was a bit hesitant to present the idea--to Aliza--because I wanted it to be all about health and making good choices and feeling energetic and not regretting what you had just eaten. I did not want it to be about looks and weight.
I set up six times in a day when food would be available. Aliza can record what she eats. She chooses a snack based on whether her "tummy is telling her it's hungry" not on how she is feeling or what she is doing at the moment. If she decides not to have a snack, she puts a smiley face in the box. Once the box is written in, the snack or meal is over.
Here's the thing. Children love structure and boundaries. It makes them feel secure. It took me next to forever, but I finally figured out a way to give--especially Aliza--structure and boundaries for healthy eating habits. And you know what? Weight has not come up a single time.