So, it turns out my mom was right.
(I’m starting to wonder if always? But do not tell her I said so.)
Turns out this whole snacking all the time trend is kind of a problem.
And by kind of I mean, we should probably take a closer look at our collective habits around round-the-clock grazing.
I was surprised at the dentist when Sam had so many cavities. He doesn’t drink juice, has had Sprite seven times in his life and rarely eats candy – at least I thought so. I didn’t realize how often he gets it at school which is a whole different post!
But our (wonderful) dentist said the candy’s not actually the cavity-causing culprit in our case.
These are snacking cavities, he said.
Turns out even snacking on healthy food without periods of rest is problematic.
Experts advise that eating smaller meals throughout the day can help prevent childhood obesity, but there’s a catch. Researchers now know that frequent snacking – or “grazing” – is becoming a major source of tooth decay.
Teeth go through a healing process between meals. When kids snack on crackers all day, or we give kids a bag of fruit chews for a long car ride, the result is a constant attack on the teeth that breaks down the enamel and can quickly turn into cavities.
Good to know.
Learning as I go here, kids.
The moment my babies started eating solid foods, packing snacks in the diaper bag became as routine as diapers and wipes.
I’ll even admit that for my pacifier-resistant baby I used Cereal Puffs to pop in a moment of silence.
Or, peace and quiet in the car.
As passionate as I am about nutrition and making healthy, balanced choices for my children, I’m thankful I never stood on a soap box about it because it would be melting into a big, slippery mess now-ish.
This could have been prevented if I’d listened to my mom.
But what does she know?
When she first saw the cheerio-cup holder I packed around with Giraffe and Zebra she was aghast.
They eat in the car? Nonsense.
Why all these snacks? Nonsense.
You had breakfast. Desiata at ten. Then you had lunch. Then we ate dinner. And at 3 o’clock you had olovrant.
No obesity. No cavities. No problems.
While the last point is a bit optimistic, the rest is kind of on fleek, as the kids say.
But here’s the thing, we were also pretty structured. We were at school. Or we were at home. We weren’t “on the go” the way so many of us are today.
With flexible (read: random) work schedules, working multiple gigs and siblings going here and there for practice for this and that, I get how snacking has become a thing. I also see, in hindsight of course, how it turned into a habit.
I think snacks still have their place. I think feeding children intentionally to fuel their bodies is still a good thing.
But don’t be fooled, as I was, into thinking that if you’re feeding healthy snacks all day, it’s all good. Because no. Maybe you already knew that, and good for you.
I have silver-capped reminders when my son smiles now.
I wish I had listened to my mom.
Instead I invested in the lesson at the dentist’s office.
So now what?
With school starting, soccer season kicking into gear and trying to (re)create that whole work-life balance thing there will be snacks. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing. But now instead of this sort of free-for-all, eat when you feel like it pattern we’ve created we’re going to be more intentional.
There will be breakfast.
There will be desiata. (mid-morning snack)
There will be lunch.
There will be olovrant. (afternoon shack)
There will be dinner.
And there will be some emergency snack kits at the ready for days when there wasn’t enough time to eat lunch (did you guys know how little time kids actually have to eat lunch? Partly because they are so eager to get to the playground, and partly because the next wave of students needs to tables, among other considerations).
Whereas I’ve relied on carby kinds of snacks like packaged Fig and Cliff Bars, I’m planning to stock up on trail mix and nuts and protein packed in my favorite Easy Lunch Boxes.
There are good reasons to snack, and healthy ways to do it. Companies like Nuts.com make it easier for those of us transitioning to healthier ways of doing it. Read up on some good tips for healthy snacking here. Gluten-free friends will like this one here. And you guys, there’s chocolate. And that can be totally good for you. All things in moderation, I can hear my dad saying as I write this. He used to have dark chocolate tucked in his drawer. I loved it when he shared! When we visit he still invites me into his study and shares goodies from his stash, sometimes my favorite ones smuggled from the old country.
For those of us who love convenience, good customer service and a tasty array of options presented in a clean way, check out nuts.com to get snacking goodness delivered to your door!
The picture above was one of our first road trips with Sam as an “eater.” Yes. I packed his high chair! And his mashed up avocado/rice cereal/whatever else I mixed in there. As you can see by my face, this wasn’t exactly convenient. Not pictured is Matt’s face. Though, you might imagine what it looked like.
It wasn’t long after this the Cheerio holder made it’s appearance. It was way easier to hand that over to the back seat without even pulling over. And so it began.
He’s seven now and both boys are totally used to eating in the car, and eating just because. Sorry, mom. (And sorry Sam and Jake … know better, do better. You’ll thank me later. Down the road when you realize I totally know everything. It’s okay. I’ll wait.)
So here’s my new food motto: Food is for fueling our bodies, not fielding our boredom.
Eat when you’re hungry, enjoy tasty treats on occasion and be well.
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