How to say goodbye to junk food snacking
Posted by Mandy Sacher on July 11, 2018
Posted by Mandy Sacher on July 11, 2018
When we’re busy or out and about, it can be so tempting to reach for easy convenience foods!
The trouble with this is, while these foods might seem like the easy option in the short term, highly processed and sugary foods don’t fill anyone up for long. These can cause a blood sugar spike and then crash, and these blood sugar imbalances can be the main cause of mood swings and meltdowns that we’re all hoping to avoid.
The best way to skip this scenario is by making sure you have a range of healthy snacks on hand at all times.
Stocking your fridge and pantry with plenty of nutritious food options means you’ll be ready before you even start to hear the inevitable “Mom, I’m hungry!” on repeat. And if you’re out and about, be sure to take healthy homemade treats with you so you never have to resort to using fast food to halt the hangry.
Get the kids involved.
A great way to occupy your children is to get them busy in the kitchen with you. Most kids love spending this time with their parents, plus helping to prepare food means that they’re more likely to eat (or at least try) what they’ve created.
The rule in my house is that once the food is prepared we all have to taste it, but no one is forced to eat it if they don’t want to. Often one of my children will love something while the other rejects it – but because there are no expectations they still love to cook with me.
Combining one-on-one time and sensory play is a great teaching and development tool plus, there’s no better way to expand your child’s culinary repertoire than by getting them involved in meal preparation.
You might like to create this chocolate brownie recipe with a healthy twist, have a go at these Easy Peasy Japaneasy DIY sushi rolls or let your little one get involved with weighing ingredients, mixing and tasting one of the many simple and healthy recipes featured in my book The Wholesome Child Nutrition Guide and Cookbook.
Stock up on healthy snacks.
While a little bit of sweetness in your child’s diet is fine occasionally or as “a sometimes food”, enjoying junk food-fuelled activities every day can become problematic. Try removing triggers for eating such as boredom and offer filling protein-rich meals that curb the appetite rather than sugar-filled foods which stimulate and trigger the desire for more.
A great way to steer your children towards healthy choices – or to make them think it’s their choice – is by creating personalized snack boxes that they can help themselves to at any time. Make a box for each child with their name on it and fill it with containers of popcorn cooked in coconut oil, bliss balls, veggie sticks, chopped fruit and homemade muesli bars. Children will love being in charge of their own snacks, plus it means you don’t have to spend time in the kitchen cutting up fruit and making sandwiches – win, win!
Here are some handy suggestions to keep you and your family on the right nutritional track while you’re out and about!
At the cinema…
Bring homemade popcorn and Beet and Spinach Bliss Balls, or even opt for the movie popcorn but skip the soda and slushy. You could even try a real food alternative such as sushi or a sourdough sandwich.
Get your kids to help out washing and packing veggies such as cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, cucumbers an sugar snap peas (no cutting required). My favorite picnic recipes are Lamb Koftas and Mini Salmon Quiches. If your family loves sandwiches, choose a whole grain bread, a healthy protein such as chicken or fish, and pack it with a variety of veggies. Don’t forget some fresh fruit and you’re good to go.
Hitting the shops…
Make sure you pack a water bottle whenever you go shopping as a thirsty child is going to be tempted by sugary fruit juice. Plus thirst also mimics hunger, so it won’t be long before they start asking for food. Make sure you pack healthy snacks and try to fill their tummies with protein-rich, nutritious food before you leave the house.
Prepare a healthy homemade pyjama feast of Pizza, Sweet Potato Wedges and Raspberry & Pear Muffins – it’s the perfect excuse to stay indoors and bake and cook with your children, plus it will give you an activity to do in the rainy weather.
Going wild in the aisles…
At the grocery store, let your kids choose the fruit and vegetables – this encourages them to try new things and will help to build ongoing healthy eating habits. When selecting store-bought food, look for those with a short ingredient list that’s easy to read. If there are more than a handful of items listed, many of which are numbers, it’s probably not a good choice. Also watch out for hidden sugars, high sodium levels (anything above 120mg/100g), GMOs and preservatives.
Feed your tuckered-out little champions with a slice of Wholesome Child Banana Bread which is rich in healthy fats, iron and protein or recharge their batteries with these high protein Peanut Butter Cookies which are a delicious substitute for sugar-laden versions.
The children’s menu is often a junk food trap offering little nutritional value, so unless you’re eating at a venue with a healthy kids’ selection, it’s best to order off the main menu and either split a meal between your children or share with your child. Choose a healthy protein option such as grilled, sautéed or baked meats, poultry and fish. Ask for burgers to be served on a whole grain or sourdough bun and ensure that if ordering chips on the side, it’s a small portion – not an adult sized portion. Another great option is to ask for rice and salad instead of chips.
If you have no option but to fill up on snacks at the gas station, opt for healthier treats such as dark chocolate buttons, nuts dipped in chocolate, raisins or sultanas dipped in chocolate, mini trail mixes with chocolate buds or popcorn.