To Snack or Not to Snack?

Before my daughter was born, I was given the book, “Bringing Up Bebe” and really connected with many of the ways the French raised their children. I really agreed with their “minimal snacking” philosophy. They had three balanced meals and a small afternoon snack. Their kids ate their meals and did not snack all day like their American counterparts. Everywhere I turned, kids were snacking on goldfish, cheerios and other processed foods and I overheard many moms complaining how their kids barely ate their meals or were picky eaters. Hmmm, I thought…I think I’m going to implement the French practice in my home so my little one will eat her entire meals like a proper child should. I love that saying, “We plan and God laughs.” After all, we are actually our children’s students, aren’t we?

Then, Izzy was born. I found myself feeding her three meals in the beginning and hiding in the kitchen to shove down some snacks alone. Once she was on the move, it was much harder to hide and I began to question my original thought pattern. Why was I following one idea instead of what I was taught in nutrition classes? I actually did a research project in nursing school on changing the hospital system to five smaller meals a day versus the standard three. Half of my family is diabetic and I knew that a large portion of society was insulin resistant from our unhealthy habits of skipping meals and creating constant sugar spikes in our younger years with sweetened drinks and desserts. After going to Dr. Sears’s lecture one day and listening to the importance of grazing, I finally accepted that this was okay. She would not turn into a malnourished kid who hated veggies, because I was going to make healthy snacks that sustained her high energy. This way, if she didn’t eat an entire portion at dinner, I could feel at ease that she consumed enough of the right nutrients throughout the day. After all, my husband and I are big snackers and we still eat our meals.

So, as she was getting older and able to enjoy times at the parks where other kids were always snacking, I gave into the idea and brought fruits and veggies. Over time, she became interested in the other kids’s packaged items and would often try to snag some of them. I remember as a child so badly wanting what the other kids had, as my mom only allowed healthy treats without sugar. So, I gave in a little when something was offered to her, but never purchased the empty calorie junk items for her. I did, however, go on a quest to find packaged items that were minimally processed, organic when possible and definitely GMO free. I began cutting out my own unhealthy bites, which luckily were few at this point in my life, but still tempting to her. Many moms noticed their kids were attracted to our healthy choices and being a health educator that was trained to read labels, I was happy to give suggestions.

  • Always look for the non-GMO verified label or USDA organic label.
  • If neither one is on the bag or box, avoid items made with the dirty dozen produce or top GMO foods, such as apples, berries, corn, canola oil, soy, milk, sugar, spinach, potatoes and grapes (see the lists for more http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/ and http://www.discovery.com/tv-shows/curiosity/topics/10-genetically-modified-food-products.htm)
  • Be aware of how the item is prepared and avoid items that have been fried (this is usually at dangerously high temperatures that produce toxins and with toxic oils).
  • Avoid artificial colors, sweeteners, preservatives, additives and other unnecessary chemicals. These can cause behavioral issues, headaches, stomach issues and many more unwanted symptoms.

So far, here is my approved list (I am always open to new suggestions if you have any):

  • Go Raw snack bars and cookies (we find them on vitacost.com)
  • Eden Organic Pumpkin Seeds
  • Brad’s Raw Chips or Crunchy Kale
  • Kale and Chia chips by Supereats
  • Organic brown rice crackers or cakes
  • Non-GMO Cruncha ma me (we limit the soy intake in our house, as it is not easily digestible, so this is an occasional snack)
  • Crispy crunchy chickpeas by The Good Bean (The chocolate ones are a yummy treat)
  • Mama Chia seed pouches
  • Non-GMO popcorn (Boom Chicka Pop makes individual bags)
  • Organic applesauce
  • Organic Peter Rabbit veggie pouches
  • Organic rice crackers (contains flour which is not great, but an occasional treat with sliced goat cheese)
  • Non-GMO Veggie sticks by The Daily Crave (contains flour again, but way better than those other popular veggie straws cooked in canola oil)

*many of these we actually make at home, but sometimes when you are on the go or traveling, I’ll admit that it is easier to grab a package.

The important idea here is to limit the packaged items, but to give a few options as special treats so that your healthy child does not feel left out. This will just cause them to binge on junk when you’re not around. Also, they pay close attention to what you are doing, not saying, so if you are scarfing down a bag of Doritos and preaching to them that they need to eat their carrots and hummus, you will most likely not get a positive overall outcome with their future healthy choices when they are on their own. Remember, prevention is way easier than treatment in terms of health and the food in our stores are not marketed to us to make us healthier, just to make the manufacturers more money. Many chemicals are not even listed or fall under categories, such as “natural flavoring” so be aware of what goes in your family’s bodies.

Blessings,

Pura Vida Mama

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