Is it just me, or are we all hearing this phrase “can I have a snack?” approximately 875 times a day? Maybe it’s because we are on week 3 of non-stop family time or because trips to the grocery store add a new level of anxiety, but not only is the frequency of this question irritating, it can also become stress-provoking.
FREE DOWNLOAD! Our Dietitian-Approved Top Energy Bars!
While you might not be able to immediately stop your kids from asking for snacks every 10 minutes, you can create an environment in which your answer is simple and your stress is minimized.
Step 1: Make A Plan.
Work together as a family to determine when meal and snack times are going to occur. Post these in a spot where everyone can see it. In our house, breakfast is finished by 8:00 AM, snack #1 occurs at 10:00/10:30 AM, lunch happens at 12:00 PM, snack #2 is at 3:00/3:30 PM, and dinner occurs around 6:30 PM. These can absolutely be approximations, but by designating these time frames you have a simple answer to a “Mom, I’m hungry!” request occurring at 1:30 PM. “Snack time is at 3:00.” There’s no need to argue and any further requests receive the same answer. “Snack time is at 3:00.”
Step 2: Enlist their input.
Giving kids input on their meal and snack choices helps them to have a sense of control. That is important under normal situations, and nearly essential in this time of heightened stress. Have your kids help you make a list of snacks for the week and put the list in a place where they can easily see it. This list can also help with your weekly grocery list. If you have older kids, you can also sneak in an important math lesson (and life-skill lesson) by giving them a budget and having them plan their own healthy snacks for the week.
(Jennifer, here – my kids LOVE chocolate chip Clif Bars. But, I haven’t loved the price for how quickly they tear through them, so enter our DIY version below. Normally, I use dates in my bar/bites recipes, but due to COVID-19, no fresh dates are to be found. This recipe is simple, with lots of heart-healthy oat power. Feel free to adjust sweetness with the maple syrup. We found 1/2 a cup to be right for us! )
Step 3: Fill ‘em up
Good kid snacks are hearty enough that they will feel full and help them get to their next meal without feeling overly hungry. Cookies or snack crackers are absolutely fine on occasion, but they don’t typically provide many of the nutrients kids need to grow or the nutrition to keep them full. Aim for something heartier like apple slices with a couple tablespoons of nut/seed butter. If you find that your kids are constantly asking for snacks, try adding a little more food to snack time in an effort to tide them over longer. Adding a piece of fruit is always a great option.
The current situation is stressful enough. Let’s take the battle over kids’ snacking out of the picture. If you need more cooking tips and meal ideas, check out our free Family’s Guide to the Well-Stocked Kitchen During Covid-19. Or, consult one of our dietitians for one-on-one help! We can guide you…from our virtual couch to yours!