Happy Snacking: How to Prevent Poison and Nurture Nutrition

My son who is 4 months old is eating pureed foods now. He is eating and liking his fruit and vegetables. I am happy about that. I know that is all he knows at this point but as he grows up, it will be more of a challenge to have him eat his fruits and vegetables and I and my husband will be responsible for that. WOW! What a challenge but maybe with planning it can be smooth. How?

At a doctor’s office, I saw a clip about healthy snacking for children. I have read information with exercise and healthy eating that snacking is okay to do but what you snack on is important. There are a lot of yummy things to snack on and definitely look and sometimes taste better than healthy food. Sometimes the unhealthy food seems “easier” to get, buy or bring. Where to start?

Start with YOU. How YOU and your spouse or significant other snack will set the tone for the rest of the family. Most women do the shopping for the family so if they want something sweet, then it is brought in the house. That is true with me at times. I have stopped that which makes it easier to snack healthier.

Have the fruits and vegetables, nuts, yogurt and other healthier (non-processed) food available in the fridge. When things are more available then they will be eaten especially when the kid is “starving”.

Remove the junk from the house so that a fresh palate can be used to taste the healthier foods which will increase the desire for it. When a person has a little bit of sugar, they do want more. I see that the same with fruit and vegetables. What you put into the body, it will crave it.

If junk food is in the house for a particular party or reason there can be a couple of options on how to handle that:

  1. Set no restrictions to the quantity which can help a child potentially learn his/her own personal limit for that type of food at that particular time
  2. Divide up in snack size zip lock bags the sweets or other junk food which helps with portion control and when that snack is done, it’s done.
  3. Have each child pick a particular item they want to have and will share with the family
  4. If it’s not a party or special occasion, set a day of the week or meal where a special treat will be eaten, as part of the family and then back on track

Encourage and model drinking water more than sodas. Sodas can taste good but not healthy at all for the body. The more water a person drinks, the healthier they are and keeping their body in a healthy functioning state.

Get active. When people are active, their body may crave more healthy foods too. So, get active as a family. Use it as time to strengthen family ties while you are getting healthy.

Have flexibility. Flexibility helps a lot. There will be times when healthy food is not brought and unhealthy food will be purchased. Enjoy it at that time and get back on track at the next meal.

Allow the kids to make their own choices when they are out and teach them how they can make healthy choices even at a restaurant.

Create a healthy environment at home which healthy food and snacking will be provided. We can not control our children’s choices out of the home but we can teach them, show them, guide them and help them so they will make better choices when they are not in our presence.

Hope these tips help you and your family become a healthier family!

© Copyright 2011 by Kelly Sanders, MFT, therapist in Rancho Cucamonga, California. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • sharon


    July 1st, 2011 at 11:35 PM

    my first baby just completed 3 months a couple of days ago and I was wondering about food and food habits for quite sometime now…how to train her towards healthy foods only and avoiding junk foods…your article seems like a good guideline to start an build upon while teaching kids about different foods…thank you very much.

  • pauline


    July 2nd, 2011 at 4:46 AM

    well I guess it does make sense to say that kids become what you train them to be an it’s no different when it comes to food and eating habits.most kids develop a lacking for junk food because it is readily available at home.and if all that is available is the healthy foods then yes,they will develop a liking for those!

  • Joanne


    July 2nd, 2011 at 8:32 AM

    Don’t you think that the evry title of this sets kids and adults both up for some kind of imagined battle with food that should not be the reality of life? What this really should be about is developing a healthy lifestyle for the whole family that does not have to revolve around food. Food does not have to be some kind of enemy if you exercise and do everything in moderation. Teach kids that food is for energy and enjoyment, but that there are other things in life that you have to do too so that it will all balance out. Why establish a war from an early age when life does not have to be that way?

  • Miranda


    July 2nd, 2011 at 4:37 PM

    Teaching children from a very early age how to make informed and wise decisions about the food that they eat is critical for saving society from yet another generation of poor health and obesity. When you give them a chance to succeed they will; but fill the pantry with junk and that is all that they know, then how are they going to be able to make a success story out of that? You have to give them the ability to make smart choices, and for that to happen you have to surround them with the healthy foods that they need to thrive. Who wnats processed junk when there are fresh and healthy options available? Kids do, but you have to teach them that this is not the best way to go, and it won’t take long before they get it.

  • Lizzie Hogan

    Lizzie Hogan

    July 2nd, 2011 at 8:46 PM

    Kids will always be picky eaters, but eating healthy isn’t as difficult a task as everyone thinks to take on board. Start comparing your diet to the USDA food pyramid for a month or so. The majority of us will be well under in the fruit and veg recommendations and well over in the protein, dairy and carb sides. That will give you the incentive to change.

  • LL


    July 2nd, 2011 at 11:32 PM

    I’m sure to be trying your techniques to my son who will be joining the family in August. I have wondered many a times as what would be the best way to encourage healthy eating in a child and your article seems to answer that question very well.

  • cooper


    July 3rd, 2011 at 8:15 AM

    Parents have to set the example for how they want their childredn to eat. You can’t expect them to only eat fruits and veggies when you are pulling into a drive thru for every meal of yours. They are going to emulate what they see you do, and if you eat bad things then naturally they are going to want to do the same.

  • Cameron Blaine

    Cameron Blaine

    July 3rd, 2011 at 10:57 PM

    The main hurdle is noticing what’s going into your body and your shopping cart. The USDA has a new simpler guideline than the old food pyramid: a plate.

    Half your plateful should be fruit and veg, slighter over a quarter grains, and slightly under a quarter, protein. Dairy is illustrated as a smaller side portion. Look it up to see what I mean.

  • Nadine Hollis

    Nadine Hollis

    July 3rd, 2011 at 11:24 PM

    I find a good way to avoid snacking altogether is to not leave those pesky temptations lying within easy reach. If it needs effort, you won’t passively grab it without even thinking. I myself am rather guilty of that. I can eat a chocolate bar when watching TV and it barely registers that I was eating it.

    Keep it off the kitchen table and counters. Out of sight, out of mind. Almost. :)

  • ree ree

    ree ree

    July 4th, 2011 at 10:53 AM

    The way that I have always viewed thinks is that I am the mom and they are the kids; therefore I am in charge of the decisions up until a certain point. And if I am serving things that are healthy then those are the things that the kids are going to eat. Oh they may not eat it at first but they are not going to let themselves starve to death either. So eventually they will come around. nThere are some things that they get no voice in until later on, and food choices are one of those things in my house. call me old fashioned, but my kids are not fat either. Little correlation there I would think.

  • emery


    July 4th, 2011 at 11:39 PM

    I’ve observed with my niece that she would emulate eating habits of adults and would want to eat and drink anything she saw us consume.It would be great if new parents can remember this technique because not only can they train the kid for healthy eatin but can also help their own health :)

  • J.Hall


    July 5th, 2011 at 10:18 AM

    Kids are messy with their food because we let them.If we show them that we mean business right from the beginning we can observe a far greater sense of discipline among children.and this is something I have seen working practically.

  • Kelly


    July 5th, 2011 at 5:56 PM


    Thanks for all your thoughts about the article.
    Joanne: Yes, the title can set up for a battle and there will be one because kids want to have control. I agree that activities should be around other things than food but that was not the whole point of the article. Most definitely need to do that because there is more to life than food! With fruits and veggies, I need to add a little more to my eating. These thoughts are all great and glad I could help in some way.

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