Print Tricia Schmit, M.D.

School is winding down and the kids are getting excited to spend more time at home. They’ll be raiding the fridge and kitchen cabinets in no time. We all have to be prepped for the onslaught.

It’s no big secret that kids today are challenged with lots of high calorie snack options adorned with Spiderman or Dora on the packages (which instantly makes them more interesting to young ones). And now there is even a study that explains the gazes of these characters are aimed straight at eye level with kids!

Therefore, we have to overhaul things at home to make sure there are some good options while the kids are satisfying the munchies. Kids tend to want items that are easy to grab and go; and (no surprise here) they tend to make worse snack decisions as they get older. So, several things to consider:

  1. Buy items in individual serving sizes
  2. Think protein plus a veggie
  3. Don’t buy stuff you don’t think they should eat

If the single-serve, ready-made options are too expensive, buy in bulk and prep it yourself. Cucumber or carrot slices with some hummus, celery sticks with string cheese, apple slices with some peanut butter. Studies show that eating foods like this can make a kid feel full with fewer calories (versus eating a bag of chips, for example).

Limit the “bad snacks” that you bring home. Don’t even buy them! If they aren’t in the house, they can’t eat them. This is especially important when it comes to the middle schooler who is old enough to stay home by himself. Many kids in this age group tend to have a big appetite with the onset of puberty and high-calorie, low-nutrient snacks can really affect their growth (in a not-so-positive way).

It is important to try to make time for family meals—this helps kids in so many ways! They make better food choices, they learn how to act socially at mealtimes and it can provide you with time to talk about how things are going for them. Start with aiming for one family meal-time a week. Preferably a homemade meal, everyone seated at the table together and NO TV/media while eating. (We all—kids and adults, alike—tend to eat larger amounts when not paying attention and staring at the TV, plus there is less conversation with media involved at mealtime).

Try some of these ideas for your kids this summer, then you hopefully won’t worry about them eating an entire package of cookies while they sit at home.



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