Snacks have been a subject near and dear to my heart for years. I have found memories of an after school snack waiting when I got home. I still enjoy a mid-afternoon bite every once and a while, but I have grown a bit tired of what I call “Institutionalized Snacking”. Everywhere my children go, they are offered a snack. It has become a bit much. Perhaps I have become more aware of it because kid #1 is gluten intolerant and can’t eat most snacks offered. It seems that I am constantly running gluten free junk food to school, baseball games, church, and Cub Scout events. There are birthday parties, pizza parties, bake sales, ice cream parties, and the standard Valentine, Halloween, and other holiday parties. When kid #1’s class had a young authors’ event, there were cookies and lemonade. I forgot to send a cookie and kid #1 was the ONLY child that didn’t eat a cookie. Then to make matters worse, there were so many cookies donated for the event the class ate them for an afternoon snack for the next two days. Kid #3 insists on going to the barber shop with her father every three weeks when he gets his hair cut because she leaves there with fists FULL of candy. Kid #1 gets off the bus with a lollipop or a stick full of sugar as a reward for good behavior.
Now that kid #1 and kid #3 are playing organized baseball, the snack issue has again reared its high fructose corn syrup covered, ugly head. When my children are going to participate in exercise I prepare a meal (or snack) ahead of time to give them the energy to complete the task. I also provide them with adequate water while competing. When we get home my kids will also get a healthy meal (or snack). Don’t get me wrong, our family has gone to the local ice cream shop after one of the games this year and all enjoyed a frozen treat, but my children were not allowed to have that AND the snack offered. I do not feel that parents are intentionally sending chocolate sandwich cookies and “punch” boxes to sabotage the health of children, but enough already!
Here are the institutionalized snack rules at our house.
1. Always use your manners. We simply say, “yes please” or “no thank you”. (Kid #1 once began to explain that the “juice” box wasn’t really juice and that is why he didn’t take it! We don’t want to offend people!)
2. You must ask your parents before you take a snack. Especially since there is some label reading that has to go on with us!
3. If you take the high sugar snack food, then you may not have the juice. It is one or the other, not both.
4. The snack has to come back to us to be opened. At one of the recent ball games the snack was fruit snacks. Each 4 year old was given a bag that had 3 servings in them! Kid #3 ate those snacks on and off for a week. Most of her teammates had them finished before reaching the parking lot.
5. We don’t eat anything until we get to the car. We have a lot of kids, gear, and a wheelchair to push. The addition of snacks can add 20 minutes to getting to the car.
My kids aren’t always happy about our snack rules. Don’t feel too sorry for them though. They eat junk food too, but I have noticed that they are now turning down the offered food because they prefer what’s at home. After the last few ball games we have had freshly popped popcorn, frozen fruit smoothies, watermelon, and Larabars. We recently took our turn at snacks and I let my kids pick what they wanted to take. Their choices: 100% juice pouches, apple slices (in individual bags – a big treat) and cheese sticks. I was pretty impressed.