If there's one thing I've learned about kids over the years, it's this: no matter how many worms they've fed each other, or how many biscuits they've snaffled from the jar, kids are always hungry. As parents, it's our job to avoid tummy rumbles, but also to instill in our kids a love of healthy and sensible eating. Dealing with hunger is a great place to start.
Some kids play the hunger card when they're bored. Or out of habit, as soon as they get to the park. And they're rarely hungry for an apple or an additive-free, low-fat, high-fibre bran muffin. Instead, it's the nasties in shiny packaging that they crave, and the brightly coloured chemically enhanced sticky things that cause an amphetamine-like buzz. And we all know how that one ends, so it's best to start as you mean to go on, and just say “No.” The way I see it, if they're hungry, they'll eat. If not, then jog on!
If you persevere with this approach, you will notice that your kids only ask for food when they're genuinely hungry. It will be tricky at first, but once you stop buying sugary or high-fat snacks and replace them with more nutritious options, you will see changes in their behaviour. Stand your ground, and your kids will soon realise that you are more than happy to provide all sorts of snacks, but the ones they see on the TV are just for special occasions. When they're hungry, a carrot, a pot of yoghurt or a slice of omelette will make them feel better, take their sillies away, and stop their tummies growling.
You will also find that maintaining this approach will help to avoid the arguments: it's simply not negotiable. So, in one fell swoop, you'll be feeding their bodies, teaching them about nutrition and showing them whose boss! What a fabulous parent you are!