We all know that our kids learn by example, but we can be unaware of some of the bad examples we’re setting. For instance, take eating in general and snacking in particular. If you skip breakfast at home because you are busy, then fill up on a take-out breakfast sandwich, your kids will think that’s OK too.
Working at home on the laptop while unconsciously snacking from a bowl of candy? Well, mom does it so it must be OK. Fighting those hunger pangs with a handful of chips and a chocolate bar? Doesn’t everybody do that?
While everyone has busy times and the occasional bar of chocolate isn’t a problem it’s best to teach our kids by example and learn that there are ways to snack healthily. If you are trying to ensure your kids snack healthily here are some tips to help:
If you are trying to ensure your kids snack healthily here are some tips to help:
1. Persistence, Persistence, Persistence
If your child refuses a new food or a previously enjoyed food prepared in a different way – don’t give up. It often takes many tries for a child to take to something new, so don’t give up at the first refusal.
2. Don’t start a food war
This is the flip side of tip 1. Never turn food into a battle ground. It can be difficult when you have taken time to prepare a healthy snack & your child refuses to even try it, but don’t show you’re upset. If your child refuses what they are offered just say OK, leave the snack for them and say that there’s nothing else available.
3. Only offer healthy choices
As in all areas of parenting – don’t ask open questions unless you are prepared for an open answer! If you ask your child “What would you like to eat?” It gives them the opportunity to make an unhealthy choice and puts you in a position where you either have to let them have what they asked for, or refuse their request. Instead of getting into that position try asking something like “Would you like vegetable sticks or fruit slices?”. This way your child has a choice & some control over what they eat, but you help steer those choices in a healthy direction.
4. If you don’t want them to eat it- don’t buy it
This one also helps with the grocery bill. When I stopped buying candy, chocolate & crisps on a regular basis there was a mini revolt. There were days of “But there’s nothing to eat” from my herd of unhappy snackers but they soon adjusted and now I never hear this complaint.
5. Choose healthy snacks together
Nobody likes to loose control over what they eat & drink so include the family in healthy snacking choices. Make a big list of possible snacks and get them to choose what they would like. Then go to the store together. Our little ones love filling the bags at the bulk buy isle.
6. Store the healthiest snacks at eye level
This is an especially good tip if you have teenagers like ours who open a cupboard and are only capable of seeing what’s directly in front of them! When the healthiest alternatives are readily available it’s easy to stick your hand in the fridge or cupboard and pull out something healthy to snack on.
7. Keep it interesting
Nobody likes to eat the same old things everyday, no matter how tasty. So don’t forget to plan ahead and ensure there is plenty of variety. If your kids like trail-mix and try different kinds with a range of nuts and fruits and dried fruit fans have a whole host of options open to them. If you check out the healthy snacks on Nuts.com you’ll find so many options that you could have a different snack every day of the year and still not have tried everything.
8. Decant into smaller bags
If you are like us, a family of 7, you always have to buy family sized bags & boxes. The trouble with this is – when I sit down to read and fancy a snack, it’s easy to grab a huge bag of trail mix and graze halfway through it before I realize whats happened. Now I decant the family size snacks into small portion ziploc bags or lidded plastic pots and you have to make a conscious decision to overeat.