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Sticky fingers for snacky foods

Published in Healthy Eating Tips Author: Jenna Bautch, Dietetic Intern

You hear these phrases all the time or maybe you say them yourself . . . Stop playing with your food! . . . Your are going to ruin your supper!

Snacking has been seen as an enemy of mothers when it comes to their child’s appetite at the dinner table. A common belief is that a child will not be able to eat a proper dinner while snacking before a meal. Frequent, regular snacking has been believed to increase one’s weight by potential over consumption.

However, due to having a smaller stomach than an adult, kids prefer to have smaller meals or portions compared to adult sizes. Children are more likely to only eat their favorite foods at dinner over trying other food such as broccoli or carrots. Snack time serves as a chance to incorporate the fruits and vegetables kids are missing at lunch or dinner.

When children come home from school, they are usually hungry. A growing child may become distracted from his or her activities if they are only focused on their hunger. Snacking may help to prevent over eating at dinner.

Children are prone to “inspect” their food before they eat it. This may be disguised as “playing” with their meal. When parents detect this, their first instinct is to scold the child and encourage them to eat their dinner. Allowing a child to play with their food may help with introducing new foods. Now “playing” doesn’t mean starting a food fight in the middle of the kitchen or at the dinner table. Encourage a child to become “creative” with their food. How a food is presented determines how the child will perceive the food and if they will be willing or not to try and eat the food. Snacking can be seen as a fun activity for kids. Try shaping foods for the children and encourage children to play and experiment with their food.