Snack Facts, tips for Successful Snacking
“Mom! I want a snack!”
This has to be one of the top 5 statements kids say to us on a daily basis, right?
How often do you feel like the meals you have at home with your family are good and nutritious but the snacks in between those meals are ruining your kids’ appetites or are the reason your kids are eating too much junk food?
Snacks can be a downfall for all of us. We all know that kids love their snacks but can snacks be sabotaging their dinner? Likely yes! If you notice that your kids ask for snacks often, you’re wasting food because they’re not eating dinner or they’re simply never satisfied, read on my friend because you need some help with better snacking and I have some advice.
First, it’s important to evaluate what type of snacks you keep in your home or what you’re often stopping for when out with the kids. Are the options healthy? If you’re making a ‘weellllll, they’re not terrible’ face, then there’s room for improvement. So before we get into the snack facts, let’s start by acknowledging that options are a problem so that we can start making some healthier choices. Get rid of some of the junk so that options are no longer a problem and start bringing those better options with you when you go out so that you’re not impulsively buying from a store. Ok, onto some facts about snacks.
1. Generally speaking, we’re overfeeding our kids with snacks and underfeeding with meals. Snacks are (often) more fun, packaged, processed, they tend be to palate-pleasing and this is what leads to overindulging. You can try to reduce the portion size by 50% if your kids aren’t showing up to a meal hungry.
2. Packaging is marketing. The companies that make snacks know exactly how to captivate young people. They’re able to influence your buying decision by making an emotional connection with your child who then whines until you give in and buy what he or she wants. A closer look at the sugar aisle…errr….cereal aisle will show you exactly what I mean.
Take a look the next time you’re shopping: the characters on the boxes are all looking downwards, because who’s down there looking up? No one over 5 feet that’s for sure! The characters are connecting directly with your kid and influencing your buying. You can do 2 things. 1). Don’t shop with your kids…not practical. Or 2). Get in the habit of food education and explain why you aren’t buying those packaged snacks. Just because your child gets upset that cereal isn’t coming home doesn’t make you a bad Mom, it’s ok for your child to have these emotions and for you to have food boundaries. They’re good for him and you.
3. Bring awareness to “snack attacks”. What’s really going on? Is there a true hunger cue or are your kids bored? Could they be conditioned to expect certain snacks with certain activities despite a lack of hunger? Think movies and popcorn. Before snacking, connect with your child. Play a game together, read a book, go to the park, spend meaningful time together. Pairing food with boredom can lead to unhealthy eating habits later in life. You need to be the emotional comfort, not a granola bar.
4. Make one snack a day a package-free snack. The convenience of snacks is one reason I believe we over-use them. The packaged snacks are more satiating and are often carb or sugar-heavy so turn to an all natural alternative: fruits and veggies. These won’t fill your kids up and they don’t require any additional work. This is a nice way to transition your child from overly packaged and processed snacks to nourishing, whole food based snacks. I suggest doing this with a morning snack and not a bedtime snack.
If you decide to swap out Goldfish crackers at 10am for strawberries and blueberries and your child says, “no”, you can tell her that it’s ok to skip a snack because lunch isn’t too far away. I like giving young children a “playtime guideline” versus a “time guideline”. For example, avoid saying something like this: “It’s ok to skip a snack because lunch will be at 11:30am which is only an hour and a half away”. Most young children don’t have the concept of time under their belt yet, but they do understand activities! Try this instead: “It’s ok to skip a snack because we’re going to paint a picture then walk to the park to play, and then it will be lunch time”.
When it comes to snacking it’s always best to evaluate what is working and what could use some tweaking. Sometimes a gentle switch or a shift in mindset is all it takes to make snacking a successful, healthy experience for you and your child. Please let me know how your family handles snacks and let me know what you thought about these snack facts- I’d love to hear from you!
Bye for now,