Your kid begs you for a snack...not even a gummy candy or a lollipop or Fritos. Just some Wheat Thins or pretzel goldfish. But you know she's already had lunch and one small bowl of Pirate Booty. Dinner is still two hours away.
What do you do? How many snacks are too many? How many are okay? It is a tough call. You don't want to make the mistake of encouraging a habit of snacking even if it is a healthy snack. There is no cut and dry answer here. Sure, you can count how many calories your kiddos are eating per day and gauge somewhat from that to be sure they are eating enough. And yes, if there has been megamunching, you just say no. But, on an everyday basis, how do you know if your kid is getting into a bad habit of snacking or just in the middle of a growth spurt where her body is craving more food?
I've been reading a lot about it, and some doctors recommend a few questions to ask yourself:
-- Is your child thirsty? I've thrown this out there before and it seems to often be the case with my kiddo. We all get signals from our bodies that say, "I'm hungry!" when in fact we need fluids. If my daughter wants a snack right after lunch or right after another snack, I know she is thirsty, not really in need of food. Usually, when she drinks some water, that urge to snack goes away (same goes for me, I have to say).
-- Has she had fruit or veggies today? Yes, it is easy to hand over a bowl of Goldfish, and, yes, fruit can be expensive, but once we got in a habit of eating more fruits and veggies, we actually bought less crackers and snack items and more produce.
-- What is the right serving size? I found myself giving my daughter just too many crackers. She, like the rest of us and every five-year-old I know, will eat those Wheat Thins til they are gone from the little plastic green bowl, which just encourages that habit of eating too much and not being mindful of when our tummies feel full. Really, about half of what I was giving her just fine to getting some energy to build her Lego-wooden block-paper towel tube Kitty City. After I realized this, I felt better about her snacking habits (again, a lesson we mamas can adopt for our own healthy eating habits).
How many snacks do your kids eat per day? What is allowed as snacks in your home?