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The Cult of Snacking: Are Your Kids Obsessed? Are You?

18 responses to “The Cult of Snacking: Are Your Kids Obsessed? Are You?”

  1. Gretchen

    My kids are 2 and 6 and they don’t get a snack during church anymore, but they complain about it because older kids up to age 12 (!!) are still snacking out of boredom. My oldest says she’ll shrivel up and die if she doesn’t get a snack, too. I tell her, if you can’t last an hour without food, then you deserve to shrivel up and die.

    –Another mean mom

  2. Meagan Francis

    I was talking with a nutritional anthropologist for an article I’m writing and she really hammered home the point that nowadays, kids’ eating has very little structure to it. There’s no set time or place to eat–we just let kids wander around with food all day. I used to feel bad about always being the parent who forgot to pack Goldfish crackers until I started thinking about my childhood…did my mom pull out a baggie full of crackers for me every time we sat still for half a second? NO! Did I starve? NO!

    We allow an after-school snack and an evening snack but the rule is we eat it at the same time (just about) each day and it is eaten at the table. No wandering around the house or sitting in front of the TV munching. For my big boys I will occasionally make an exception for a piece of fruit but I think that’s because I haven’t quite gotten a handle on their rapidly-expanding appetites just yet!

  3. molly

    Thank you. Snacks have a place but I often leave the house without a snack for my son. He’s now 6, but I’ve been doing this for a very very long time. I’ve been glared at by other parents as I explain to my son, as we’re leaving the park or the library or wherever to go home and have lunch that it’s okay to be hungry sometimes and that he can wait 20 minutes until lunch to eat. And you know what else? I don’t pack a snack for the ride home from school. He can wait the extra 5 – 10 minutes until we’re home to eat. At a table. Like a civilized person. There is no need, I explain, to eat in the car when you are on your way home. Where is all the food. In fact, it’s a bit weird and compulsive.
    – yet another mean mommy

  4. Christina

    I totally agree about the Cult of Snacking, Denise. It’s madness. It’s too late for my kids–they are snackaholics at 8 and 12–but if I could do it over again, I would. (Although, to be fair, my 12yo does seem like a natural grazer and that works best with her metabolism.)

  5. Sandra Hume

    Hungry children are very good eaters.

  6. Heather C

    I absolutely bring snacks with me if we’re out for most of the day because I’m all CHEAP like that and I have already spent my money on good snacks I’m sure as heck not buying the overpriced food at the zoo! If I think we’re going to be out and about during a time that the kids might be hungry, I try get them to eat before we go…. or if I can’t, I grab some snacks.

    I do like some grazing during the day because *personally* it means I eat less. If I’m grazing, the kids like to graze too. And at day care and school they have regular snack times so I think their bodies are set up for those regular nosh times.

  7. Kate

    Count me in the snack camp. There are two main reasons I never leave the house without a couple of pretzel sticks and slices of apple. First, I blame teething. I swear, except for a two or three month reprieve after her first tooth sprouted at the ripe old age of 3-1/2 months, this child (now 16 months) has been working on a tooth pretty much every week. During which time she’s chewing on everything. I initially got teething biscuits to help her out, but they are disgusting and turn in to semi-solid goo almost immediately. Then we discovered pretzel sticks. Hard, feel good on the gums, portable, and aside from a couple crumbs that are easily swept away, not very messy. Second, she is mad for apples. Apple was her first real word, and she says it still probably 40 times a day. I give her an actual apple slice for every ten “ah-poo?”s, which means she snacks on apples four times a day give or take. While we’re waiting for breakfast to be ready, in the mid-morning, while she’s waiting for lunch, and in the mid-afternoon.

    What I want to know is, what do you buy for young toddlers when you’re out and about and they get hungry? Do you carry a knife so you can cut up an apple you buy at the deli? And do you wash said apple in some magically appearing sink? And wouldn’t it be cheaper and healthier and easier to bring something from your own home instead of buying something on the road? I get that obligatory snacking is annoying, but I don’t get what’s annoying about leaving the house with food.

  8. Jennifer Fink

    The snack culture can be so sneaky. It’s hard to go ANYWHERE these days without my kids being offered some kind of food, from free cookies at the bakery in the grocery store to candy at the bank to the ever-present snacks at Grandma’s house (today alone she gave them fruit snacks and frosted decorated choc. chip cookie. At 11 am).

  9. Chris

    OMG, I had the exact same reaction the first time I went to a Barnes & Noble storytime with my then-toddler (maybe younger) daughter. The snacking was outrageous and clearly aimed at appeasement alone. My daughter was fine with it because, um, she wasn’t hungry, but also because I’ve made a point since she was very young to educate her about food issues, including things like mindless snacking. But in subsequent storytimes the snacking got so distracting that the woman leading the storytimes actually banned snacks. Holy cow, you would have thought she’d told these mothers to stop nursing a starving infant. As such, that ban didn’t last long. That said, I’m actually one of those mothers who always has snacks with me, for myself and my daughter. But that’s because we are very conscious about what we eat, and rarely can find acceptable snack foods when we’re out and about. So I like to be prepared. But that’s entirely different.


  10. class factotum

    I’ve wondered about this. I don’t have any kids and I get curious when I see kids at church with their snacks and their books and their toys. I’m Catholic, so it’s not like church is an all-day event. Can these kids really not go an hour without Cheerios? Can’t an 8-yr-old sit through Mass without a toy?

    I don’t remember my mom packing snacks when I was a kid. We ate at the house. On long car trips, she brought sandwiches and bananas. But snacking to snack was not a thing.

  11. Christine

    I’m with you here. Whenever I return to the US I definitely feel culture shock when it comes to snacking. I’ve found there is much less focus on snacks here in Japan where we live and much more focus on eating properly at meals. Little catering to preference, just expectations that children will eat nutritiously and properly and broadly. I suppose it’s a bit of an old-fashioned take on food, but I prefer it. You don’t see tons of children’s meals in restaurants either, or if you do, they tend to be smaller portions of adult meals with just a bit more variety.

    It’s the same with toys too. You don’t see children going to doctor’s appointments with a bunch of toys etc. to distract them.

    Great post! Lots of food for thought, ha ha.

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  13. Kate H.

    Mine was a mean mom. I will be a mean mom someday. Eating in a bookstore? No. Eating occurs at mealtime. You do not eat when you are bored. Shocked that no one said anything about promoting childhood obesity with bad habits.

  14. Julia

    This is a great post and discussion! My pet peeve is the “snack calendar” that is always thrust upon you the first moment of the first day of any organized kid activity, ie soccer, swim team etc.. I’m however a big fan of the after school snack. In our house cinnamon sugar sandwiches, milk, and fruit are favorites…it is a nice time to quietly reconnect with my daughter after a busy school day. It is also where I try weedle as much information about her day as possible. She is now a second grader, and her responses run along the lines of name, rank, and number!

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