Whether your kids are going back to school this fall or taking virtual classes at home, one thing that won’t change is their endless need for after school snacks. Parents, like me, have been fighting a variety of battles of wills during the sheltering at home. Many I have talked to have admitted that nutrition and food choice battles were some of the ones most frequently dodged or exchanged for a little ease and peace and quiet.
This ferocity of the battle can be amped if there are other factors, like not great habits by adults or household influencers, or like in the case of the Little one, diverse abilities that can affect sensory processing or sheer willpower. My girl, as I have said, has Trisomy 21 and that girl is stubborn. I have had not had to “Mommy Dearest” her, but I have learned the hard way that I have not set a great example and while I have cleaned up my act to the tune of 25 pounds lost since April, she is not as easily influenced by my choices. It has been tough and often she repeats her desire for chicken “luggets”, “fench fies”, and soda for HOURS. No exaggeration. Eventually, she takes the food I offer out of sheer hunger. Often, I have to feed her a few bites to get her to try it. Almost at a 100% rate, she will eat what was handed to her, report she liked it, and we do battle again the next meal. It does not carry over, at least not yet.
I have basically tried to fix her dinner meals. If I can get some consistency here, I plan to tackle lunches as she is at work with me right now for virtual school. She will go back in two weeks (GAH! PLEASE!) and then I will gladly leave it to school lunches and peer pressure. She had really started to eat better at the beginning of the year and then WHAMMO! The pandemic brought a lot of her progress to a sudden halt.
As adults have put on a few pounds during this time, it is time to tighten up for ourselves and for kids. After all, they do as they SEE and not what you SAY. Keeping this in mind as well as the fact that the parents control supply lines, you can help your child get back or track or start to develop the kind of eating habits that well serves them well throughout their lives.
For me, my girl, who is a grazer by nature, is content to eat the same snacks. She likes fruit sauces (I make them), and smoothies (I make these too!) and baked veggie chips, yogurt, some fruits. I try to her snacks pretty unprocessed but am having no luck shifting items from the snack list to meals. So, we are all, in this together!
So how do you get your children to eat healthy snacks?
Studies show that children need to be offered a new food anywhere from 10 to 15 times before they will readily eat it – and enjoy it.
That means that it may take awhile!
But consistently offering healthy snacks, fruit, vegetables, and whole foods will pay off.
Instead of allowing your kids to choose their own snack from the pantry, plan to set out the healthy snack that you want them to eat each day after school.
Whether that means putting berries in a bowl, slicing an apple or celery sticks with a side of peanut butter, or preparing a healthy snack – put the snack on the counter in the same place each day.
If your child doesn’t want the healthy snack, that’s okay. He or she will survive without a snack.
Eventually (maybe it will take 10 – 15 times!!!), after understanding that the presented snack is consistently the only option, he or she will most likely come around and start munching!
Here are 5 easy snack ideas that kids can help prepare as well as enjoy!
- Baked Sweet Potato Crisps- slice (mandolin or spiralizer), season, and bake!
- Yogurt Parfaits – provide fruit, granola without added sugars (or make your own), and yogurt. Kids can do their own layers–may not be pretty but it may help the kids try their own creations.
- Humus Dip with dippers – Cutting the tahini is an easy way to lighten up humus, which is really just pureed beans. You can experiment with chickpeas, black beans, edamame and a variety of seasonings, add veggies or crackers and BOOM!
- Ants on a log – A Classic! Cream cheese, peanut butter, and raisins or any other dried fruit can be a fun way to tweak this classic to your child’s tastes.
- Peanut Butter Fruit Dip – a little peanut butter mixed with Greek yogurt can be used as a dip for fruits or even veggie or crackers! Lots of possibilities
If you have favorite healthy snacks that your kids love or tips and tricks to help encourage to try new foods, please drop a comment!