Tackle That Snack Attack
"On school days, they are out of the house until about 4 p.m., so they have a snack before dinner and sometimes after dinner. On weekends, they snack once or twice during the day."
Terry's daughter, Amanda, is more of a snacker than his son. But at 11, she is becoming more interested in her weight and figure, so she is opting for healthier snacks and taking an interest in nutrition, he says. "For a snack, she'll go to the refrigerator and take an apple or an orange, while her brother would always prefer a cupcake."
Nutritionist and mother Davida Kleinman, RD, MA, of Doylestown, Pa., says that she chooses whole foods over processed foods when choosing snacks.
"When you choose whole foods, kids eat smaller amounts that are more-filling and more nutrient dense, so it helps them get through the day," Kleinman says.
And if you don't buy processed foods, "kids don't grow up exposed to them [and] are less likely to grow up and reach for them," says Hampl.
When kids are hungry between meals, Kleinman recommends popcorn sprinkled with Parmesan and whole-grain tortilla chips with natural salsa or guacamole for dipping.
"Instead of cookies or crackers, I'll use dry cereal and pretzel mixes with Cheerios and multigrain Chex. I try to avoid the frosted-variety of cereal," she says.
If kids have a sweet tooth, Kleinman suggests raisins, fresh berries, and yogurt pops.
Kleinman's rule of thumb: "If you cut it up, they will eat it," she says. "As long as I have things cut up, my 2-year-old will eat them whether orange wedges or sliced apples. And if you have dips available, that makes snack foods like baby carrots even more appealing," she says.
Good nutrition starts with setting a good example, says Hampl.
"This normally starts during infancy," he tells WebMD. "Don't make a face when you put a spoon in babies mouth."
Agreeing with Kleinman, he suggests chopping up fruit and vegetables to make then more snackable.
The amount of snacks that a child consumes should depend largely on how active he or she is, he says. "If a child is very active and runs around outdoors, expect them to have more snacks. But they may not need as many snacks on a couch potato day or rainy day."
Still, kids are often hungrier on rainy days because they are bored, he points out. "Encourage indoor activity or healthy snacks such as carrots and celery -- even with peanut butter, it's still is a better choice than a bagged processed food."