To snack or not to snack. The debate arises…

Do our kids, especially in Australia or the Western world, snack too much?

 

If you ask my mother? Yes.

If you ask some health professionals, yes also.

But if you ask other professionals, the answer is different again. But why?

The argument against snacking is often centered around the child not being hungry enough to eat the “main meal” and mindlessly nibbling on nutritionally devoid snacks rather than being conscious of the meal.

The argument for snacking arises around the fact that little people have little tummies. And little people have HUGE personalities and similarly to adults, they have preferences as to when they like to eat.

I sit professionally somewhere in the middle, fence sitter I am, with an enormous asterick.

Not all snacks are created equal, and that I believe, is the important point.

There is a lucrative market for snack foods. Little mini flavoured rice cakes and muffin bites or the likes, galore. There are individual aisles in the supermarkets dedicated to them. And our kids today smash the stuff.

Why?

Because they are made especially for little people in mind. Easy to eat, mini cute packages, with mini little bites of food. Simple flavour profiles made simply sweet or simply savoury. They don’t often have difficult textures, not too tough, not too squeamish. And they are convenient for mums to throw in the bag.

But, what they market to the mother, is often veiled and misconstrued pieces of information (check out Mealtime Building blocks vast series of reviews here) and when I stand on one side of the fence declaring snacks are important for children, these are not the snacks I am talking about.

The picture below is a product by Heinz that is in the courts for this very reason of misleading marketing.

Val Gent, a Paediatric Speech Pathologist and feeding specialist, often suggests if your child is more of a “snacker”, aim for six mini meal-like occasions rather than the traditional snack. And this is the snack time I am aligned with. Mini meals.

As I mentioned before, children often have distinct preferences for meal time occasions. I know my own children around 2 to 4 years of age, have all loved the massive morning tea o’clock at say 10am. How I ensure, and how Val ensures her patients, have a nutrient dense ‘snack’ or ‘mini meal’ occasion is by including a variety of foods, food groups, colour and as many wholefoods as possible.

Really not dissimilar to a lunchbox which could be in a box or on a plate.

The foods can be mini made in cutie compartments to mimic the supermarket kings in terms of marketing bite size to our peeps, but by keeping the foods homemade and with a variety of textures, colours and with increased nutrient density, our children are eating wholesome choices which actually make a dent in their nutritional intake for the day.

The argument against snacking would concur that children, if not hungry, will not eat the main meal. Which also has an element of truth to it too. I like to keep the 2-hour window before a meal with little ones and that the last meal before is smaller than the main meal as they get older.

 

For some lovely lunchbox and snackboxes, check out either Biome or Lime Tree Kids. I adore the bento style boxes and have a variety of them. You can see some in this post on lunchboxes here.