Every day after school, it’s the same scene in my house: My son asks for a snack, I offer up an idea (usually starting with what he chose yesterday or the day before), which he promptly turns down. He might come back to it a few minutes later, after I’ve exhausted all other possibilities, but he never says yes to the first suggestion. He holds out until he know what all his options are.
I always have healthy options on hand—grapes and yogurt and pretzels — but I’m also guilty of buying Party Mix, which is decidedly not healthy (and is, therefore, usually my son’s top choice).
Nutrition writer Casey Seidenberg offers up this suggestion in the Washington Post: Create “snack drawers.”
Create a refrigerator snack drawer full of foods such as hard-boiled eggs, blueberries, carrots and yogurt, and always have a bowl of fresh fruit on the counter. Also, create a snack drawer outside the refrigerator. Fill it with mostly healthy snacks such as applesauce, raisins and nutritious bars, but add a few less healthy items, such as leftover Halloween candy. Explain that at snack time, they may eat from either of these locations.
My kid eats enough candy already (I pack him a piece in his lunch for dessert and he gets a small dessert after dinner most nights), so I would adjust that part. Instead, I could pack up small portions of so-good-but-not-good-for-you Party Mix next to larger portions of pretzels or granola and let him choose for himself. If he wants to indulge, he can but with a smaller portion. If he’s hungrier, he’ll have to opt for the bigger, healthier choice.
Either way, it’s his decision and I can stop reciting his options day after day after day.
Seidenberg offers up a few more tips for teaching healthy snacking habits to kids, including teaching them about hunger cues, setting specific snack times and deciding on a family rule for sugary foods. I’m admittedly not that regimented when it comes to snacking, but the drawer seems like a quick and easy way to cut down on some of the snack time debate.
As with all things parenting, you can go as quick-and-dirty or as elaborate as you’d like. I searched “snack drawer ideas” on Pinterest and found everything from drawers stuffed with Mott’s, fruit snacks and Cheez-It bags to beautifully organised drawers with tiny containers, perfect portions and helpful labels. I’m more likely to fall in the former, rather than latter, category, but either way it’s worth a shot.