Why Snacking Can Become an Unhealthy Habit
What do you think of when you hear the words snack food? I think of salty, crunchy, or sweetened processed foods. Snack foods are often packaged, attractive and completely perpetuated by marketing. They feed into our desire for a “break” or for a treat - even when we aren't truly hungry. In America, snacks for kids may consist of goldfish crackers, pretzels, string cheese, fruit snacks or maybe even cookies. There are three reasons that snacking can become an unhealthy habit. The first is because snack foods often consist of processed foods. The second is that snacking can lead to the habit of eating when not hungry, and the third is that frequent eating (especially when it consists of processed foods) can lead to tooth decay.
There are times when snacks may be convenient, such as when traveling, or if a meal gets delayed, but for the most part, most school-aged children don't really need to have snacks. In addition, snack foods shouldn't be seen as something different than foods that are eaten for a meal. When I say that most children don't need snacks, I mean that children don't need to be fed between meals unless they are hungry. I often see children being offered processed, sugary and high calorie snacks so frequently (especially at sporting events) that I doubt they are truly hungry. Because these foods are hyper-palatable, most children will eat them even when they aren't hungry, which leads to the habit of eating outside of hunger.
I always refer back to the first rule of intuitive eating which is to rely on and trust your child's hunger signals. However, most children (or adults for that matter) aren't going to conveniently get hungry at 8, 12 and 6. If your child is hungry for a meal at 11, it’s totally fine to just eat lunch early. I understand that you may want to keep a certain schedule for meals in order to eat together as a family, etc. In that case, why not provide a small portion of the meal, or instead of a processed food, offer fresh fruit or raw veggies to munch until dinner is ready? Only you and your family can determine what works best for you.
What is your opinion on snacking? Do you think snack foods are necessary? What is your favorite snack, and when do you tend to snack the most? Comment below, leave me a like, and please share this blog post. Thanks for reading and have a plantasticday!