Here’s the situation: It’s 2 hours before dinner and your son is screaming for something to eat. You're thinking, “No snacks. I don’t want him to ruin his dinner!” The truth is a snack is okay if it’s a healthy food or drink and he's still hungry when it comes time to eat dinner. Good times to grab a snack are mid-morning and mid-afternoon.
Because your child's stomach is smaller than your stomach, he needs to eat more often to keep from getting tired and grouchy. You've seen that happen, right? The only caution is to make sure he's snacking because he's hungry. Don’t let him fall into the trap of eating because he's bored, watching a movie, or as a reward for doing something like finishing a homework project.
Let’s say it’s 2 o’clock Saturday afternoon, his little league game just ended, and he's hungry. What should he eat? Some good choices would be an apple, orange, yogurt, popcorn without butter, peanut butter crackers, cheese, or a piece of whole-grain bread. Try to avoid cookies, candy bars, chips, and sodas that will fill him up fast and make him feel tired even faster. Remember, “snack” doesn’t mean junk food!
Need more ideas? Next time your son or daughter is hankering for something to eat in the middle of the afternoon, choose a fruit smoothie instead of a milk shake, frozen yogurt instead of ice cream, baked pretzels instead of cookies, water or milk instead of a soda, fig bars instead of a candy bar, a piece of fruit instead of hard candy, or a whole-grain bagel instead of a cinnamon bun. You get the idea. Make it a habit for the whole family to snack on healthy foods. You won’t be sorry. We promise!