The Wider Angle | Snacktime Smackdown continues!

The Snacktime Smackdown continues with some tips from our resident dietitian, Allyson Balzuweit! I will admit, I REALLY need to make this a focus in my house again.  Lately, it’s not uncommon for my kids to have two snacks before dinner – resulting in lots of leftovers (or, sadly, garbage).  Kylie even thinks she can trick me with “Mom, I think I need to eat a HEALTHY snack now, since I already had some gummies” (code for Annie’s Organic Fruit Chews, AKA sugar in a bag).  Just mark one down on the Bad Mommy scorecard for me!

No cute pictures here – just basic tips to get the snack routine back on track.  :)

The Great Snack Debate

If you have toddlers or school aged children, I’m guessing that you are all too familiar with the battle of what to feed your kids for a snack. Liz Seymour’s previous post, “Snacktime Smackdown”, offered great insight into the daily battle we engage in as Moms with hungry children who are often picky eaters.

If you’re committed to offering mostly healthy options, getting your kids to accept these adds another challenge. When Sophie started kindergarten, she became much more exposed to the wide array of snack foods that I had managed to shelter her from up until that point. Grocery shopping with my children has become more difficult as I often turn down requests for things like Twinkies and Fruit Roll-ups.

Sadly, our society has become inundated with all types of “snack foods”, most of which translate to pure junk. Add to that our fast paced lifestyles and chronic shortage of time and it’s easy to reach for these prepared convenience foods. Even foods that are deceptively marketed as being healthy add great confusion to the average consumer’s ability to make a smart choice when it comes to healthy eating. Are organic goldfish crackers healthier than the non-organic alternative? Is an “all-natural” fruit snack (i.e. gummies) really a healthy choice? Perhaps better than some of the alternatives on the spectrum of snack foods, but we can certainly do better than that.

These are the years when we still have control over what goes in our children’s bodies, with our ultimate goal being to set them up for success later in life when they will make their own choices. As parents, we get to decide what comes home from the grocery store, and from there should let our children to make choices from a selection of healthy foods. That said, depriving them of all things junky is unnecessary and will likely lead our kids to desire these foods even more. The old cliché , “Everything in Moderation” is really true in this case.

If you’re ready for your own Snacktime Smackdown, here are some tips before getting started.

  1. Choose foods that have been around longer than you and me. Not as in moldy or spoiled :), but foods that existed in nature long before food manufacturers started to invent so many processed foods. Think about how that food got from nature to the grocery store shelf. The less steps involved, the less processed and more healthy it likely is.
  2. When grocery shopping, stick to the perimeter of the grocery store. These are the aisles where you’ll find most of the stuff from Tip#1. Most of the processed junk foods are found in the middle aisles.
  3. Consider using a green/yellow/red light system when having your kids choose snacks you already have at home. For example, fresh fruit is a green light snack while a whole grain granola bar would be yellow. Limit yellow light snacks to once a day. Red light foods like cookies or chips should be limited to only a few times a week, and it’s best not to keep a whole lot of these around.

Here are just a few ideas for snacks that you will typically see my kids eating…

  • Part-skim mozzarella cheese stick and whole grain crackers
  • Apple slices dipped in 1 Tbsp. Peanut Butter
  • Stonyfield farm Yo-Kids yogurt (try stirring in some cereal for added cruch)
  • Baby carrots, cucumber slices and mini whole wheat pita rounds with 1 Tbsp. hummus
  • 1 Tbsp peanut butter with a few whole grain crackers (even graham crackers will work)
  • Mott’s all-natural applesauce
  • Fruit kabobs (for some reason fruit is more appealing if it’s held together with a stick). Use low fat yogurt as a “dip” to go with it.
  • Homemade trail mix with raisins, nuts and sunflower seeds. Every so often you can even throw in the chocolate covered raisins or even a few chocolate chips for added appeal  :)
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by Crystal

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