Back to School – Snacks for Kids

Hi everyone! Its been a while since our last post, and there’s a reason for it…there has been sheer chaos in our home! We took the end of the summer to do some much needed upkeep to our home. Painting, redecorating, reorganizing…etc. Among which, the most important for us, is that we put both boys in the same room, in preparation for the new baby…wish us luck!!!! So finally the first day of school arrived and both boys started their journey.

On to food…

Now they go to nursery school so they are only there from 9am – 12pm. The way it works there is that each week one child’s parent is responsible for bringing snacks for the kids that week. Each week the parents go rotating until its your turn again. Then if you leave your child to stay past 12… for lunch bunch and kid’s club, then you are responsible for providing your child with his own lunch also. Of course every school has a different system.

So yesterday I pick up my boys at 12 and the first thing Orly tells me when he runs out of class is “Mommy, you know what they gave me for snack… doughnuts and juice

Here I am trying to teach my kids a healthy lifestyle and they leave me for a few hours to go eat doughnuts and juice. The question is, what can I do?

Bring my own snacks for the teacher and tell her that my children are not allowed to eat that sugary stuff… then my kid will be the only kid in the class that can’t eat the snack while all the other kids enjoy it. Well i’m not willing to do that for 2 reasons. 1. I don’t want my kid to feel that he is deprived from eating anything because i’m afraid he’ll rebel against me later and become a junk food addict! 2. I don’t want my kid to be alienated or considered weird simply because of what I say he can and cannot eat, and we all know kids can be cruel. Or keep him out of school until he has to go, well that really only delays the problem, and I happen to love school and the development and routine that it offers children. So I sit here frustrated. My kids will spend the next 9 months having sugar shoved down their throat. Snacks, birthday parties, bake sales, Friday Pizza parties, holidays, school functions, you name it! Now i’m okay with my kid enjoying candy on Halloween. I’m not completely neurotic. But doughnuts and juice for snack at 10:30am on a regular day is just too much for me. In any event, I smiled and ignored the situation and made sure my kids ate good, healthy, balanced meals the rest of the day.

So I only have 2 options left… make sure that my kids are eating well the rest of the time at home with me, and try to educate parents and create a community of awareness to see if we can improve what we feed our children. And I say create awareness because I don’t think this mom meant any harm by bringing doughnuts for snack. We all want what is best for our children. I think the issue is that a lot of people view food as weight-related exclusively. Most children don’t have weight problems (although children obesity is on the rise)… so in parents’ eyes… they think what they feed their children is not a huge issue because their children do not have a weight problem. So the mentality is “my kid doesn’t really have to worry about not eating that doughnut until he’s older.” Because the truth is that the kid is going to go to the playground and burn off whatever calories he consumed from that doughnut in a minute. So the parent sees the doughnut as a fun treat and they’re just kids after all and they can afford it so why not give them a small pleasure? The problem is that its not only about weight anymore. It is now becoming clear that food does affect your health. And furthermore, the flavors and tastes you develop now will largely influence you in your adult life. Sure you can acquire new tastes and learn how to eat healthy as an adult,( my husband and I did), but why not make it easier on our children and give them a foundation now…so the learning process is not so difficult later? I realize that one doughnut will not harm my child…but I definitely want to stop creating a sugar addiction in our society because it is serious and our health is suffering as a result of it. Here are some ideas I thought would be good to share for our kids to eat at school…and as always, my research continues so your feedback is welcomed!

Good Snacks to take to your child’s School

Water instead of juice – a lot of juices come with sugar added (even organic ones) which is completely unnecessary. Some juices are 100% concentrated juice and that’s not terrible for kids and does have nutritional value. However, when you’re drinking fruit juice you are eliminating all the fiber from the fruit. So, for me, I find that water is a better option. Especially in our case because our children consume huge quantities of fruit daily. Whatever minimal nutrition they would derive from the fruit juice they are getting from actual fruit.

Fruit – Grapes are a great snack for kids because kids love bite sized foods. (For certain ages, the grapes must be cut in half to avoid choking hazards). Sliced apples, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries. Cut up pineapple pieces. Mandarin oranges. Any fruit that you can give in bite size or can be chopped up into small pieces (that are not choking hazards) is great for snacks.

Raisins – my kids love raisins. Raisins are super high in sugar but if you buy raisins where there is not sugar added, then it is still a whole food and is a good source of fiber. I also found this awesome treat. Plum amazins. They have half of the sugar that raisins have and are delicious. I’m using them in my salads no instead of cranberries and the kids love them. These are a great snack.

Granola – a good quality granola that is not super high in sugar is great for the kids and has a good amount of protein. Its delicious to give them some fruit with granola or yogurt with granola. I buy organic granola from Whole Foods.

Greek Yogurt– Oikos is a great yogurt and they sell small ones that are perfect for kids. You can buy these yogurts with fruit added and your kids are getting good probiotics and a delicious treat.

Baby carrots and celery sticks – carrots are one of the few vegetables that I have found are easy snack foods. I’m always looking but so far this is it. You can always offer a little dressing to dip in the carrots or celery sticks to add flavor but I would offer them alone first and see how they like it. In my case, I give my son celery sticks with a good quality peanut butter but for school, this can be a problem due to the large nut allergies that children have. (So if your child is not allergic to peanut butter, that’s a good option for a home snack.)

Instead of candy, offer Dark chocolate – If you want to give your child a sweet treat, try some dark chocolate instead of candy. Some consider dark chocolate to be too bitter, but I find that small children acquire a taste for it very quickly. Exposure is everything. You would be shocked at the things your kids would eat if they were exposed to it. In my case, I buy 86% chocolate for the kids as an after dinner treat – same treat we give ourselves! And my kids literally beg for the chocolate! To them, chocolate is chocolate and they view it as candy. So if they eat a good portion of their food (I don’t force them to finish their plate but I do want to make sure they eat), I give them each a piece of dark chocolate afterwards. Ghirardelli offers these dark chocolates cubes wrapped in individual pieces already, so I think that would be a fun option to try for snack at school. It does have added sugar but its 86% raw cocoa so the 14% is not too significant. I’m actually going to try it during my turn for snack week at school and see how it goes. The younger the kids are when you expose them to these tastes, the higher the chances they will grow to love them.

Do you know of any healthy, allergy-free snacks that are good for kids? If you do, please comment on this post and offer suggestions to parents who are desperately looking for good alternatives for their kids.

Cheers to a great school year for all of our children!!!!

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