Curb the Carbs! Snack Time is Out of Control

Filed under: In The News

Are your kids overdoing the sugary snacks? Credit: halloweve1977

Who would have thought childhood snacks could create so much anxiety? But, as a diatribe in The New York Times asserts, snacks for children can be treacherous ground for many parents who find themselves constantly being pressured to offer treats for soccer practice, school events and parties.

"It's out of control," Ruth Frechman, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association tells ParentDish. "Just 100 calories extra a day can add 10 pounds of weight a year."

Anyone with a toddler can tell you it's good to have a bag of cereal or a handful of pretzels on hand to prevent hunger-fueled tantrums. But now, it seems, snacks are required at even the most mundane childhood events.

"Apparently, we have collectively decided as a culture that it is impossible for children to take part in any activity without simultaneously shoving something into their pie holes," writes Jennifer Steinhauer in her Times rant.

The problem is the snacks that many kids love -- and some parents are only too happy to provide -- are often sugar bombs that contribute to obesity and cavities or, at the very least, ruin appetites for lunch or dinner. Besides, do kids really need a donut every time they play a game of baseball?

Nutrition experts say a healthy snack between meals is fine, but not to load up on too many extra goodies. So, what to serve? The American Dietetic Association offers a long list of healthy snack options for "When a snack attack strikes" on its Web site. Along with fresh fruit options, there are ideas such as whole grains and cereal mixed with dried fruit and nuts.

The bottom line is, don't eat if you are not hungry, Frechman says.

"All the little things add up and there's really not much discretion in people's diets," she says, adding that she surmises most kids are offered lots of snacks when they aren't even hungry.

Monica Silvestro, a holistic health counselor in Rockville, Md., suggests an easy way to find out if kids are hungry enough for a snack: If they turn up their noses at slices of apple or cucumber, they aren't hungry. Then you know it's time to skip the snack.

It's also important to remember if 80 percent of your child's diet is full of healthy choices, it's OK to have the salty dry carb snack at soccer, Silvestro says. Just don't load on more when they get home.

Related: Tips On Buying Healthy Kids Snacks


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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.