Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Snackin' Savvy

Snack time can go two ways: fun, healthy and not too messy OR crazy, junk-food-ish and a national disaster!!  The only way I know this is because I have lived through BOTH I will vote YES any day to option one!  Here's (through good ol' trial and error), what I learned works....

Fail to plan and we plan to fail.  Healthy eating doesn't just magically happen.  It's a habit that is formed from a young age.  My own mom was pretty snackin' savvy and got me into the habit of eating foods (with a few yummy exceptions, of course) that would have made Mrs. Bernstain Bear (great resource for kids to learn about healthy eating: Bernstain Bears & Too Much Junk Food Book) proud; apples & peanut butter, nuts and raisins and toast with jam to name a few.  

We've got the POWER mamas & papas!!  Habits are like soft beds: easy to get into but you can have a heck of a time trying to get out of them!!  Let's make some healthy habits for our kids to "get into" today and (hopefully...like everything parenting: fingers crossed that it will actually work!) when they are no longer rifling through our fridges and have their own fridge maybe it will be full of GOOD things!

Getting started: Divide and CONQUER!  
1.  Shop smart.  Go into the grocery store with a plan and, if you would be so lucky, no sticky-fingered children to grab EVERYTHING with SUGAR off the shelves!  Try to go after you finished a meal so YOU won't be tempted by sweet lil' Mrs. Debbie (I never have figured out how those oatmeal creme pies always end up in my cart, strange). Have a few healthy snacks (that you think your kids will actually eat) jotted down to stay focused.

2.  Some healthy snack IDEAS (really, this list could be limitless and I'm sure there are MANY online resources to help but here's just a few of our fam faves)...
Also, by "healthy" I don't mean made of alpha-sprouts and tofu.  After all, we want children to actually EAT it!

*Animal crackers, pretzels, Pirate's Booty Puffcorn, veggie chips, popcorn, cashews, cheese crackers/goldfish, craisonsRaisel raisens, fig newtons, dried pinapple and blueberries, raisins, peanuts (age appropriate), apple slices, grapes (if they last longer than five minutes in our house), bananas, cheese slices/sticks, canned fruit, etc.  AND...(in smaller quantities)...
*Chocolate/butterscotch/etc. chips (some like carob chips, my kids spit them up), jellybeans, marshmallows, etc...my theory on sweets is let 'em have a little now and then or when they turn 18, they may bing and go and into a sugar-coma!

3.  Organize your snack storage area.  We have small spaces to "enjoy".  Here's a picture of a little food pantry my sweetie built for me in our old broom closet (above).  You could use ANY lower cupboard, shelf, etc. for your snacking area.  The containers for the snacks were purchased for under $2/each at Wal-Mart (square ones below are $5/each at Target). I *heart* not having to deal with boxes and bags piled everywhere and food going stale because of poor packaging.

4.  Have a snack routine to curb "all day or anytime eating".  What works for us is to have a small snack in between breakfast and lunch, one in the afternoon and sometimes, one in right before bedtime.  I keep little bowls (this is best for small children, I don't think your teen would like a tiny bowl of snacks!) in the snack cupboard and either make them each a bowl of something or let them choose their own snacks.

Yes, we have doughnuts in our home and my kids are "sweeter" for it !
5.  Stick to your Snacking Guns!  This simple rule works well for snack selection: only one thing with sugar and you must have one healthy item (cracker/etc. are Switzerland snacks: neutral!) too.  What a sample "snack bowl" could be: goldfish, a few mini marshmallows and some craisons or grapes.  It may seem a bit complicated at first, but it is a good habit to teach them meal balance and how to choose a good snack.  *When they are "King/Queen of the day" (see Hit List section), they can have a SUGAR snack bowl: anything they want (usually means all sugar items)!  Example: marshmallows, jellybeans and chocolate chips.  Obviously, this also means they can have a later bedtime by nature of a wonderful sugar high!

6.  Snack Manners.  Snacktime doesn't have to mean Mayhem Moment!  An occasional snack while watching a movie is fun, but overall, manners of good sitting at the table (or a kid table) and clearing their snack when they are done is an important lesson for them to learn.

7.  Snackable and teachable moments.  Snacktime can be a fabulous opportunity to chat with your kiddos about why we need to eat good foods (to grow big and strong) and what bad foods do to our bodies (sickness, tired feeling, etc.).  Make it a game by thinking of a healthy snack and having them try to guess it in 10 questions or less or some other way to make "learning" fun!!

8.  No more drink drama!  The best thing for children to drink is water and milk of course but I think my kids would prefer an I.V. of juice hooked up to them 24/7!  To fight the "juice only" boycott war, I water down the juice then put it with half ice in their sippy cups.  They each have a sippy cup (one of each: water, juice and milk) in their own color (one is blue, one purple, etc.) in the fridge and the older ones can grab whatever they like during the day.  Although after brushing their teeth at bedtime, water is the only drink allowed!  To each their own but I typically don't serve any drinks at meal time so they have room in their sweet and picky lil' tummies for FOOD.  

Happy Snacking!!

{Would LOVE for you to post COMMENTS below about your fave snacks and snack ideas}

Additional Healthy Kid Snack Resources:

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