After School Snacks … the good and the bad

Do you ever feel parenthood is a continuous loop of feeding schedules? First breast or bottle — when did they last eat? The baby is crying. Is he hungry? Should I start solid food?
Then, they get bigger and you assume you will only have to be responsible for three meals a day. Except, you didn’t count on snacks. School snacks, bedtime snacks, soccer snacks, snack packs — the list goes on. My greatest snack nemesis is the after school snack. They’ve had breakfast, lunch, and a mid afternoon snack. I feel like I’ve just cleaned up from the morning routine and am starting dinner, when they barrel in, often with 2 or 3 friends in tow, claim they are “starving” and ransack the pantry.
Maybe they are hungry. But, just maybe, putting food in their mouth as soon as they get home is more of a habit, and a bad one at that.
Likely, they are eating on the run while getting ready for an after-school sport or club. A full stomach is not a requirement for physical or mental activity. It is important to fight the urge to give in to their every craving and to always keep your focus on helping them develop a healthy relationship with food.

DO:
1. Make them have a glass of water before eating anything. Thirst is often confused with hunger.

2. Have cut up fruits and vegetables at the ready, so if they need a snack, something healthy is available.

3. Limit their intake. Moderation is key. Kids are like goldfish. They will eat whatever you put in front of them. If they need a snack, it should be small, and they should be sitting down while they eat.

DON’T

1. Don’t allow them to snack on sugary foods or beverages as soon as they walk in the door. These will provide a burst of energy, followed by the crash, likely when they are doing homework or on a field.

2. Don’t be afraid to say no. Take into account when dinner will be ready. If you can’t sit down for hours, let them have a small snack. But, if their appetite is going to be ruined for a nutritious dinner, let them go hungry. I know it is a parent’s instinct to nourish his or her child. Toughen up. They won’t starve.

3. Don’t keep an abundance of unhealthy snacks in the house if you have older kids and they come home to an empty house. Don’t keep snacks in your bag if you have young kids and are picking them up at school. This teaches them no transitional moment is complete without a full mouth.

Finally, and most selfishly, curb the after-school snacks because it is just one more time you’ll be cleaning up your kitchen.

 

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