When the school year wraps up, the organization and structure that comes along with it wraps up too. While summer can be a welcome change from trying to fit a day’s worth of activities into a tiring school day afternoon, the lack of structure can be a difficult transition for our diet. Whether at camp, home, or a friend’s house, kids are on their own more and this independence can make keeping track of their eating a challenge. However, caregivers need not worry if they’ve put into place solid snacking strategies.
Are you hungry?
As I’ve written before, hunger comes in many forms and should be honored appropriately. The most important piece of this is being able to identify true, physiological hunger that can be felt in the stomach from emotional “hunger” that’s associated with social situations, boredom or other factors that aren’t related to needing nourishment. To do a true hunger check in, ask kids to take a moment to try to identify where hunger starts before deciding if a snack is needed.
Be sure of the timing
Snacking isn’t grazing. Snacking should be deliberate, purposeful and timed between meals to control hunger. That said, when kids have access to food all day long, it sometimes seems like it should be snack time…again. Something as simple as a clock can be used to control the snack schedule. Kids don’t need a snack every hour.. When hunger seems to strike quicker than it should have, it’s important to check in on true vs. emotional hunger. Ensure that satisfying snacks are being used that control appetite.
Choose a healthy snack
When we plan meals, we usually consider how to create delicious dishes that offer balanced nutrition. However, when it comes to snack time, we tend to just grab “something”. For kids, it’s often a small bag of crackers or a similar convenience snack that tries to bridge our kids from meal to meal. Consider instead the nutrition that comes from pairing fruit and a couple cheese slices or even adding nuts, seeds, and a bit of dried fruit to turn those crackers into a simple trail mix.