Along with sleep and behavior, meal time can be one of the stickiest issues (literally and figuratively!) for parents and children to deal with. We reached out to Sally Kuzemchak of Real Mom Nutrition for some advice and answers to commonly asked feeding questions. Sally is a registered dietician in Columbus, Ohio and has been published in Parents, Prevention, Self, Family Circle, Fitness, Shape, Health, Eating Well, Ladies’ Home Journal, and The Chicago Tribune. She is also the author of the Cooking Light cookbook, Dinnertime Survival Guide.
ARE SNACKS (EVEN HEALTHY ONES) A BAD IDEA IF WE’RE TRYING TO GET OUR CHILD TO EAT MORE AND MORE TYPES OF FOOD AT MEAL TIMES?
Snacks are helpful for young children, since they have small bellies and may not eat enough at mealtimes to see them through the day. Snacks are also a great way to provide food groups and nutrients that kids may have missed at mealtime. But problems arise when kids are nibbling throughout the day–so they’re not coming to the table with an appetite, and that makes them less willing to try new foods or even eat much of what you’ve prepared. Another issue is when kids are snacking mostly on “fun foods” like crackers, cookies, and gummy fruit snacks, they’re taking in foods that supply a lot of sodium and sugar but few nutrients and also favoring those foods over what I call “meal foods” like vegetables, beans, and meats. I recommend serving mostly “meal foods” at snack time and keeping snacks at least 1-2 hours away from mealtimes.