Healthy Snacking – Part I
So, I don’t know about other mommies out there, but my children are all about “treats.” Mommy, can we have a cookie? Mommy, can we stop for ice cream? Mommy, can I have a dollar for the Sugar Shack? What I’d like to know is when did snack time turn into treat time?
A long time ago, I subscribed to the concept that you are what you eat. Now, don’t get me wrong – on any given morning, I’m a proud coffee achiever and likely resemble a really high-flying balloon if I apply this theory correctly. On any given afternoon, you can catch me reaching for the cookie jar. Not exactly the model of good eating habits! But as a mom, I always want my children to make every bite count. So, while our family loves to indulge in the occasional treat, I declared war on regular snack time in our home. Out with the the empty calories and in with more healthful but equally tasty snack choices. My only concern was “selling” this new concept of snacking to my kids, and making them feel good about it—showing them that food that’s good for your body can also taste great. As any seasoned general—er, I mean mommy—might guess, such convincing was no walk in the park. I weathered more than a few mutinies, but over time (and a few battle scars) we found some snack strategies that worked for us:
Toss… the bad stuff
- Out of sight, out of mind (and out of reach, I might add!). Find healthy alternatives that work for your kids. I’m always surprised at what’s out there to choose from if I take the time to look at labels. Have the kids help, too. My older son is a great reader of food labels now, and often rejects an item because it’s “not a healthy choice.” Even my three-year-old is catching on: “Is this healthy, mommy?” I love it!
Grab…the good stuff
- Half the battle with kids is the “I want it now” syndrome, so plan a little. Load up the fridge with easy-to-grab items, such as part-skim mozzarella or cheddar cheese sticks, on-the-go yogurt tubes, and pre-cut fruit in plastic bags. I place these items in a plastic tub in the fridge, so the kids always know where the snacks are.
- Stock your pantry in a similar fashion – dried fruit, pretzels, baked crackers, cereal – all of these can be pre-measured into plastic snack bags for an easy-to-grab snack. And keep them in a basket or bin, so the kids know where to find them when a snack attack occurs.
- Your car, swim bag, park bag, backpack, purse – all of these are potential places to stash healthy snacks for when you are away from home and a fast food mirage shimmering just past the next traffic light looks mightily tempting.
We still love to bake (and eat) cookies and brownies and, well, the list of desserts we love goes on and on. But the kids now know the difference between a treat and a snack.
Watch for Part II of our healthy snacking focus, featuring tips from a celebrity fitness trainer. Stay tuned!