We have noticed that children’s behavior often deteriorates in the late morning and late afternoon, or three to four hours after a meal. Children simply run out of fuel. When blood-sugar levels go down, stress hormones kick in to raise it up again, but this can cause behavioral problems and diminished concentration. To smooth out the blood-sugar mood swings, try the fine art of grazing. Let your child nibble, or graze, on nutritious foods throughout the day. Make them easily accessible in a lunch pack at school. (Smart teachers allow even upper-grade children to have a mid-morning snack.) Carry snacks with you when you are away from home. While at home, keep a supply of healthy snacks readily available in the pantry or refrigerator.
Here’s a trick from the Sears’ family kitchen for the preschool child. Prepare a nibble tray. Use an ice cube tray, a muffin tin, or a compartmentalized plastic dish and fill each section with bite-size portions of colorful and nutritious foods. Give the foods fun names, such as avocado boats (a quarter of a California avocado sectioned lengthwise), banana or cooked carrot wheels, broccoli trees, cheese blocks, little O’s (O-shaped cereal), canoe eggs (hard-boiled eggs cut lengthwise in wedges), moons (peeled apple slices, thinly spread with peanut butter), or shells and worms (different shapes of pasta).
Don’t forget that children love to dip. Reserve one or two compartments in the tray for your child’s favorite dips, such as yogurt or guacamole (without the spices). Encourage the child to sit and nibble from the tray frequently throughout the day, especially late in the morning and in the mid-to-late afternoon, when the fuel from the previous meal begins to wear off. Shorten the spacing between feedings and you are less likely to have spacey children.