More from Sally Kuzemchak
Older kids do generally require a heartier snack than younger kids. Where is the distinction between age groups?
It's not that I'm saying feed all kids fruit and water after games. Let's say you have a kid who's 10 and played two hours of soccer. You're going to want to give them some carbs and protein. And if it's lunchtime, you want to give them their lunch. It's different from that little 4-year-old who maybe ran around the field for 15 minutes, you know? It varies so much, though -- you could have an 8-year-old who's going through a growth spurt and eating constantly, or a very petite girl 8-year-old who doesn't require much. It's so dependent on each situation.
Have parents changed their opinions on snacking after hearing your thoughts?
I definitely hear from a lot of parents who are so relieved I took it on because they've been feeling the same way I do but were nervous to speak up. And I've heard from parents whose kids have eaten new fruits. One mom who lives across the street from me said her son always hated strawberries and she saw him eat a bunch of them after a game because everyone else was doing it. So I definitely get a lot of positive feedback about that. When I brought green smoothies to school and had the kids guess what they were made out of, some of them couldn't believe they liked it when I told them it was spinach. It's always fun to see that reaction.
In the summer, I'd bring little Dixie cups full of blueberries to tee-ball and loved seeing kids coming back for seconds and thirds. Here are these kids whose parents thought they would riot if they didn't get fruit rollups, asking for more blueberries. That's really satisfying.
What would you like Parents readers to take away from your story, and do you have any advice for them?
The takeaway is to be aware of snacking. Start noticing how often your child is snacking, what they're snacking on, and what they're getting at all of these other places that they go -- is that that the kind of food you want them to be eating? And if it's not, then you have the power to change that. It doesn't have to be a big standoff with the preschool teacher. You have the power to create positive change by approaching who's in charge and sharing your ideas in a very polite, kind, helpful way. You don't have to be the person in charge or a dietician to go to someone and say, "I'm kind of concerned about the preschool snacks and I was hoping we could talk about them." Anyone can do that. And think about not only those outside snacks that kids are getting everywhere, but the snack you're giving at home, and how frequently you're giving them. Does your child really need it? We don't want our kids constantly eating. Like we say in the story, we're moving towards near constant eating and that's worrisome because that frequency of eating can be a factor in obesity. We want our kids to know what it feels like to be hungry and what it feels like to be full. If they're constantly eating they're never going to feel that, and we don't want that for them.
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