The snacking news is grim:

Studies show there’s been a steep increase in snacking among the general population. Between 1977 and 2002, the percent of Americans who eat 3 or more snacks per day increased to 42% from 11%.

Of course, some people advocate we eat 6 small meals throughout the day, instead of 3 large meals. But lots of small, healthy meals aren’t the kinds of snacks dominating the American diet.

The more our kids snack, the worse they eat.snickers chocolate bar next to a handful of walnuts and cashew nuts

  • Children average nearly 3 snacks per day.
  • 27% of their daily calories coming from snacks.
  • Desserts & sweetened beverages are the major source of calories children consume from snacks.

Read Snacks: The Gifts That Keep on Giving.

We’re teaching our kids to eat day-in and day-out.

This isn’t just teaching our kids the wrong habits.  Have you ever thought about how much time you spend preparing these snacks?

Did you know there are over 40,000 items in the typical grocery store?

Finding the healthiest snacks can be quite a challenge. Unless you follow these 3 easy steps.

1) Stop reading nutrition labels. Let’s face it: It doesn’t really matter whether a particular product is marginally better on protein, sugar or fiber.  What matters is the big picture: How often your kids eat fresh, natural foods compared to processed ones. Read Why Nobody Needs Nutrition Labels.girl thinking whether to eat the apple in front of her with a devil and angel of each shoulder

2) Start thinking about good eating habits. Consider where your children’s snacking will lead them. Juice leads kids to soda; breakfast bars steer them towards cookies; crackers points them towards chips.

3) Trust your gut. You already know which foods are clunkers and which are winners.  And everything else, those wonders that make you wonder, the gems that make you run to read nutrition labels? Treat them all as occassional junk food. Read Slackers Rule and Snacking and The Nutrition Zone Mentality.

When the snacks attack, beware!

Because you’re children are the first ones to go.

~Discover your families own path to healthy eating happiness~


Sources: Health Affairs. 2010. “Food Marketing and Distribution’s Role in the Fight Against Childhood Obesity.” Child Obesity Policy Brief. Accessed May, 2010.