The Frego Snack Better Challenge
Is snacking attacking our ability to eat a decent meal and maintain a proper, healthy weight? Not if we rein it in when it comes to the frequency, portions, timing and food types our snacking includes. It’s not easy, but we pulled together some guidelines from the experts and frego challenges to inspire the snack artist within you!
For toddlers and kids, eating smaller meals and up to three snacks daily is in line with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics guidelines. For adults there’s a two-snack max or guideline in place. Obviously these are guidelines that should be weighed along with each individual body type, need and intuitive eating, but it helps us start a conversation about how much we’re really snacking.
For kids, consider the birthday party and holiday treats, snack-as-reward based programs at school and sports pursuits. These snacks are in addition to what parents are already giving kids. It can be frustrating to see the snacks stack up. This Parents Magazine article, The Snack Epidemic, hits on so many important considerations and insights. Here’s a favorite: “An 8-year-old burns about 150 calories in an average soccer game -- yet the typical postgame snack has between 300 and 500 calories. ‘It's so strange that sports have become associated with sweets.’”
For adults, consider the stress-based or mindless munching we’re doing in the car, at our desk or while binging on Netflix. According to Mintel, America is a snacking nation with 94% of us snacking at least once daily, while 50% fall in the two to three snack a day range. In both kids and adults cases it might be okay even beneficial if the snacks were healthy, but on the whole they’re not.
Be realistic about kids’ snacking and adult snacking patterns and habits. Track them, have conversations with kids or other parents if sugary snacking is happening post-sporting events, for example. Then reduce frequency if numbers are outside of the guidelines and use snack times as a way to increase fruit and vegetable intake.
On average, kids’ snacks should be 100 calories per snack and adult snack sessions shouldn’t exceed 200 calories. For adults, for example, this would mean that the suggested daily percentage of snack calories comes in around 15-18%, based on a 2,200 calorie diet. In contrast to that range, a 2011 report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture says that snacks provide on average 25-30% of an adult’s daily caloric intake.
Have a portion size discussion with your kids. Get out the measuring cups and use a one-cup measuring cup full of water to fill the two-cup frego to illustrate what two cups looks like. Have your kids prep a healthy snack for them that is 100-125 calories or a healthy snack for you that is 200-225 calories. An ideal snack could be one-quarter cup of nuts or seeds (200 calories), one-and-a-half ounces of cheddar cheese (170 calories), or one-quarter of an avocado with a slice of whole grain bread (150 calories).
TIMING OF SNACKS
If the frequency of snacking is over the limit, snacking will start to feel like a round-the-clock occurrence. With a one to three snack daily limit, the timing should be mid-morning between breakfast and lunch and mid-afternoon between lunch and dinner. The food type matters greatly so staying away from sugary and carb-loaded snacks is best. By not eating too close to mealtime, it sets your body up to be hungry when mealtime comes around. It’s a tricky balance because you don’t want to leave the gap too large as feeling like you’re in starvation mode will make you more likely to overeat.
A few days in advance of a weekend at home, plan exciting snacks that have a few elements of texture (crunchiness and smoothness, for example) and ingredients. Decide in advance on the timing of meals and snacks throughout the weekend and note everyone’s hunger and satisfaction levels with both meals and snacks.
In citing from the Snack Epidemic article, we note that “it’s possible that childhood obesity is driven by as little as 165 extra calories a day for kids ages 2 to 7….that's roughly the amount in a handful of potato chips.” That’s an alarmingly small amount, which indicates how imperative it is for us to be diligent in monitoring our children and our own snacking habits.
Do a caloric and nutritional level assessment of your family’s top 10 go-to snacks. What qualities do you like about them? What emotional attachments do you have to them? Consider how you might swap some out for healthier choices to create a top 10 list everyone can feel good about.
We’d love to hear how your snacking challenges go. Please email, post or share using #fregosnackbetter. And remember, it’s important to learn and model good snacking for us and our kids. If we do it right, it’s a blessing in our health and truly an art form!