by Risa Green
I feel sometimes as if my entire life revolves around snacks. I have to pack two snacks in my daughter’s backpack every day; one for morning recess, and another one for her to eat on the bus home in the afternoons. My son demands a snack upon seeing me when I pick him up from preschool, and then when we get home he usually wants a second one because he’s starving. They need snacks to eat on the way to their afterschool activities, and they need snacks to eat on the way home from them, as well. On the weekends, they need snacks during half-time of their games, and then they need another snack for after the game, even if the game ends ten minutes before lunch. Sometimes, I think that instead of having a trunk in the back of my car, I should just install a cupboard.
It’s a lot of work, these snacks. A few months ago, I met with a nutritionist about my childrens’ horrific eating habits, and snacking, she said, was their number one problem. Instead of giving them Ziploc after Ziploc of Pirate’s Booty or goldfish, or Cheetos, I should instead, she explained, aim to make each snack more like a small meal, complete with protein, whole grains and fruit. A freshly made strawberry yogurt smoothie, for example, or a bowl of whole grain cereal with bananas, or a bag of popcorn with a glass of milk and an orange. With snacks like these, she explained, my kids would actually snack less, because their stomachs would be full from the fiber, protein and vitamins, and they wouldn’t be crashing after the sugar highs that accompany fruit roll-ups, or still starving because of the empty calories in the bag of Cheetos. But it’s hard to pack a bowl of cereal in a backpack, it’s hard to find the time to make a yogurt smoothie, and it’s equally hard not to cave when my kids are whining for the fruit flavored gummy snacks they sell at karate or the packages of processed cheese and crackers on the shelves at gymnastics. I try to offer them bananas or oranges, pumpkin seeds or individually wrapped pieces of cheese, but sometimes I just can’t take the whining and I cave (okay, I cave a lot of times). But still, I do the best I can.