Sit-down Snacks

Sit-down snacks are the ace in the hole of beleaguered parents and, in fact, of anyone who eats!

Consider these routines:

  • Your child gets down from the table having eaten little or nothing. He is back 5 minutes later, wanting a cookie.
  • He has eaten well, but happens to think, ''cookie,'' and starts begging.
  • He seems perfectly comfortable with not eating much, but you worry that he won't make it until the next meal.
  • Your school-age child comes home famished and eats more or less continuously until dinner.
  • Your lunch wasn't too good or too filling.
  • You happen to think ''cookie,'' or ''soda,'' or ''latte.''
  • You were so busy at breakfast time that you didn't eat much and now you are starved.

The solution is the planned snack.

Keep in mind, snacks are little meals, not just food handouts. Say to your young child (or to yourself), ''we just ate, but snack time is before long.'' Say to your school-age child, ''sit down and eat your snack right now so you don't spoil your dinner.''  Here is what to keep in mind about snacks:

  • Sit to snack, don't allow yourself or your child to eat on the run or eat along with other activities.
  • Have snacks be sustaining: Include 2 or 3 foods. Include protein, fat, and carbohydrate. Eat as much as you want; let your child do the same. 
  • Time snacks a long-enough time before the next meal so you or your child have time to get hungry again by mealtime.
  • Use snack time to work in foods you didn't get otherwise, such as vegetables or ''forbidden'' food.
  • Provide a sit-down bedtime snack, even if your child didn’t eat much at dinner. Make it something filling but not thrilling, such as cereal or crackers and 2% or whole milk (fat is sustaining).

For more about making positive use of snacks(and for research backing up this advice), see Ellyn Satter's Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family: How to Eat, How to Raise Good Eaters, How to Cook, Kelcy Press, 2008. Also see to purchase books and to review other resources.

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