A fun little fact about me is that I love snacks. Salty, salty, cheesy snacks. Is it 3pm? Gimme a damn snack. Did I just finish dinner an hour ago? Don't care, I'm making a late night smoothie. It's just the best ever, right? But you guys? With kids? I'm kind of a snack witch. It drives me BONKERS when every child at the playground is knee deep in Cheerios and rice puffs and can't walk two feet without crying for his yogurt squeeze pack. Kids everywhere are snacking every second of every day, and parents are walking around carrying a bag full of food for kids to eat during not mealtime hours. WHY?
Here's the thing about kids and food: they know it's a tool and will use it against you. Want them to get in the car peacefully? Promise them a bag of chips when they get in. Need them to remain chill while you do some shopping? Pop a piece of chocolate in their hands. They learn realllllll fast what they need to do to get a treat during the day. Parents are just terrified of their kids being hungry and acting out, and tend to over do it in the snack department.
Do kids need an afternoon snack? Probably! Their blood sugar would appreciate it if around 3 or 4pm they were consistently given a healthy option. The problem comes when kids are grazing the whole damn day, and then parents are SHOCKED that their kids won't eat their dinner. Want kids to be hungry for dinner? Let them get hungry. But I promise you that your kids will not be malnourished if they don't get their 5pm goldfish cracker fix. Kids need nothing more than a healthy, balanced breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, and dinner.
Now am I a monster? No, of course not. I love treats and think kids deserve treats too. Nothing beats ice cream on a hot summer afternoon. The problem comes when snacking throughout the day becomes a constant habit that basically replaces meals. If your kids are eating healthy and whole meals, they won't require more than a small afternoon snack. Your kids won't eat whole and healthy meals? I don't think you're giving them a chance. Take those snacks away, and you better believe they'll be downing those dinnertime veggies!
Here are some of my favorite healthy afternoon snack options for kids:
Apples and some slices of cheese.
Radishes with butter and salt. (Scoff all you want, I've never had a kid turn them down.)
Celery with peanut butter and raisins.
Cheddar bunnies and some edamame.
Stawberries dipped in a bit of sour cream with brown sugar.
Sliced cucumber with salt and lemon juice.
Hummus and pita.
Yogurt with berries.
Turkey and cheddar cheese roll ups.
Pretzel sticks dipped in peanut butter and rolled in raisins or nuts.
Fruit and veggie smoothies.
Grapes, pears, bananas... basically any fruit.
Peanut butter and banana toast.
Carrot and bell pepper slices dipped in ranch.
What are your snack faves? I literally could drown in cheese and crackers and be happy.