School is starting and that means…an endless supply of snacks. If your kids are anything like mine, they become piranhas after school, scouring the fridge and pantry for the perfect after-school snack.
The overwhelming abundance of “healthy and/or organic” snacks on the market makes it almost impossible to determine what’s best. Of course, we’ve all been swept away by the organic world (I’m on board) but that doesn’t always equate to healthy. Sugar is still sugar, even if it is organic. Most advertisers will promote whole grains or bean flours but the quantity is generally too insignificant to be count. Sugar is often disguised with confusing synonyms with the hopes of hoodwinking the average consumer: cane sugar, molasses, malt syrup, evaporated cane syrup, and rice syrup are a few of the more popular terms and all are sugar. And by the way, in case you were ever curious, fruit or veggie “concentrate” means no real fruits or veggies were added.
5 snacks rules I work off of:
- Real food. This is non-negotiable in my book. Think whole grain along with protein and carbohydrates. A little fiber never hurt anyone, plus the added fiber will help fill your kids up. Whole grain cereal and milk is popular in our house. Hummus with whole grain pretzel crisps, carrots and cucumbers is another winner. String cheese and whole grain crackers also gets an A+. Hard boiled egg, seasonal fruit, beans and rice (I’m a Miami girl), and nut butters on whole grain English muffin are also excellent options.
- Get on a schedule. I find a proper after school snack at a designated time prevents over-eating.
- Snacks and treats are worlds apart. Try not to confuse the two. Kids and adults need to learn the difference. Ice cream, cookies, granola bars, protein bars (aka glorified candy bars), goldfish graham crackers, and chips are “treats”. “Snacks” are what’s mentioned in rule #1.
- Availability. If its ready (peeled, chopped, cut, diced, washed, portioned) they will eat it.
- Let them go hungry. It’s ok for kids to be a little hungry. It teaches them about appetite, satiation, and what it feels like to build up an appetite. Actually, thats a lesson many of us adults can learn as well.
Ever notice that your kids are never hungry at mealtime? Or why you have to beg them to eat? Its most likely because the minute your kids mention hunger, a snack is readily available, as if you were a human vending machine. Here’s what a typical day should look like: three square meals, 1 to 2 healthy proportioned snacks during the day. Done!