Tackle That Snack Attack
Always "have plenty of fruits and vegetables available to eat," says Jeff Hampl, PhD, RD, a spokesman for the American Dietetic Association and professor of nutrition at Arizona State University in Mesa.
Marvin Terry, a father of two, says he stocks his refrigerator with carrots, celery, low-fat cheese, and low-fat yogurt.
"If my kids want a dry snack, I buy low-fat granola bars and other fat-free or low-fat chips," says Terry, of Bellmore, N.Y. "There's nothing for them that's bad.
"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.