i don’t have a problem with my kids snacking. how do you feel about it? some parents don’t allow it – wanting tummies ready for meals so they’ll eat well. totally get that logic. some allow anything at any time. i kind of fall in the middle. personally, i think snacking is totally fine. i love snacking myself. does it impact meal time consumption? maybe. sometimes.
here’s my reasoning. if we teach them there’s not much difference in the ‘snack’ food and the ‘meal’ food, then i don’t have to worry about them getting too much ‘snack’ food. as in, good food is good food, no matter when you eat it. and ‘snack’ doesn’t mean they can eat crap food. if they’re eating real food in between meals, then it’s good for them. it’s fueling their bodies. they know when they are hungry. their tummies are different than ours, and i believe in letting them listen to their own bodies – i can’t listen to it for them.
i draw the line if i’m about to put a meal out – because their hunger will be met momentarily. i mean i’m not going to do all that work and then sabotage a successful meal time (which can be a hard time anyway!). but if it’s an hour + before a meal, and they want an apple? sure.
just to be sure i’ve covered off on my view of meal time too – they must eat. you can read about my good eaters here. they can’t sit there and say they’re not going to try things, or just nibble. i put effort into cooking, so clearly i want them to eat it.
kid’s snacks can be an interesting balance. i want it to be something healthy if they’re going to be eating between meals. but i also want it to be as easy as possible. i cook almost all of our meals, so the last thing i want to do is add to that (even as much as i love cooking). and then there are school snacks that we send – those need to be easy, and nut free. let’s not complicate things too much.
sometimes i find i fall into snacking ruts, which might sound familiar. and the more the kids ask for something i wouldn’t normally want them to have, i just give in. because it’s easy at the time. and that’s totally fine once in a while, but at the end of the day, we’ve got little beings that like to snack a lot. so those snacks should be the good stuff too. and if snacking might mean they eat less at a meal, i totally don’t care – as long as the snacking is giving them the goods. below is an example of the snacks that i have on hand for the boys – and i send the same thing to school for school snacks. some are portable, so i stash some in my purse for those moments where i know low blood sugar is going to result in a massive meltdown. which you know is quite often. occasionally i need those snacks for myself too!
- cheese and crackers
- string cheese
- fruit (apples, berries – the easy to throw at them ones), i save bananas for bedtime snacks. because they always want to eat at bedtime. always.
- popcorn – have it made and stored, or there are so many great bagged versions now.
- carrots or sliced peppers, with or without hummus
- justin’s nut butter packets (amazing for traveling or on the go, and they are filling for them!)
- health warrior bars – my kids (and i) love the coconut ones. they are like a treat, but all good ingredients and only 4 g sugar. bars are a tough thing to find with quality ingredients.
- nuts – both the boys love pistachios, almonds and cashews. me too!
- pita chips/pretzels and hummus
- pureed fruit and veggie pouches – man, these started when they were babies, and they still love them! so good for on the go. and they both know that even if it’s right before dinner and they want one…i rarely say no.
some tips for healthy snacking on their terms:
- put the healthy food in a place where they can access on their own. kids love independence and power. we have a basket and some bowls that always have something in it. but i’ve made the mistake of putting things in there that i don’t always want them to have – and i found myself saying ‘no’ too much. what’s the point of letting them have access to something you’re just going to say no to?
- i fill a bit bowl with apples or oranges, which they definitely grab as they walk by.
- my kids love a mobile snack, when they can so i fill a cup with popcorn (a bit harder to spill than a bowl…), just so they can sit on the sofa or walk around a little. they’re so active, i don’t mind it.
- snacks can be a good time to intro new food – there’s less pressure than meal time. give it a try!
- let them help plan snacks for the week with you, whenever you do your meal planning.
- if they take snacks to school, have them pack their backpack with whatever they choose.