I’m the grandma to three terrific kids. They all have favorite foods and also foods they don’t like. I enjoy the excitement they show when I give them something they love to eat. I mean, that’s one reason grandchildren love their grandparents, right? They get special treats when they go to grandparents’ house.
Just the same, I also want them to eat nutritiously and grow up as healthy as possible. One problem all mothers (and grandmothers) face is the issue of snacks. My twin granddaughters go to a wonderful day care with a very caring staff. However, one thing that bothers me is that, as they leave the facility each day, they’re given a giant Tootsie roll. Of course, most children love sweets, and they want to eat the candy, though dinner is only an hour or two away. But there is no way they will be hungry for even the most delicious dinner if they snack on this candy.
The problem is, most children like a snack, and they often wander into kitchens everywhere saying, “Mom, I’m hungry. Can I have a snack?”
Here are some guidelines that might help:
1. Don’t allow snacks within a few hours of mealtimes. If you do, don’t be surprised if the kids just pick at their food.
2. If your child goes nuts just knowing that those luscious snack foods are sitting in your pantry, leave them in the supermarket—especially if they’re stuffed full of sugar, calories, or carbs.
3. Don’t keep snacks where kids can help themselves. Put them away in a “snack container” well out of reach. For particularly tenacious children, you may actually have to hide the snacks.
4. If your child is hungry between meals or after a strenuous game or play time, offer a small healthy snack like fruit, a vegetable he or she likes, or a low cal carb. It should be something that will digest quickly and pass out of the stomach.
5. It isn’t wise to use snacks as bargaining chips with kids. Let’s say you’re on a family vacation and you decide to produce their favorite bag of chips out of the blue, that’s fine, but it should be your choice, not theirs.
The fact is, obesity is becoming a huge problem for children in America. And if they’re obese as children, the problem usually balloons as they grow toward adulthood. Your children may eat poorly yet not be obese, and they may appear fairly healthy. But it is also true that children who are raised on junk food, prepared foods, and few fruits, vegetables, or low fat proteins, may face unforeseen vulnerabilities in their health when they’re older. I’m not a “health food nut” and I’m not pushing you to be; I’m just saying that we must watch what our children snack on and eat for meals, and raise healthy kids.