Monday, November 06, 2006

Healthy Snack Alternatives

Rule number one when making over your family’s snack habits is really simple: DON’T BUY JUNK FOOD. They can’t eat something if it’s not there. Invest a little time in the grocery store to find healthier alternatives, and build a routine to make your own. Not as fast as ripping open a bag of chips when you’re starving, but it is time well-spent, and through your example, your kids will learn patience.

Between meals, feel fuller longer by choosing protein mixed with carbs, especially heart-healthy whole grains. Try sliced apples and whole wheat crackers; a few handfuls of peanuts and raisins or other dried fruits; graham crackers with applesauce; fat free microwave popcorn with lowfat mozzarella cheese sticks; veggie sticks with a little peanut butter or lowfat dressing. Wash it down with a glass of water or light seltzer and you’re good to go. Making this part of your routine is a big step forward.

People often say to me, "My family could never give up convenience food! I'll never hear the end of it if I don't buy their favorites!" Well, the truth is, it's not as hard as you think. First of all, talk to your family about their choices. Review the nutrition labels and let them see for themselves why it's necessary to make this change. And then stick to your guns. Accept that it will be difficult in the beginning. But remember that you're doing this for a very good reason and it will pay off in the end. Remember how much of a challenge it was to get your kids to sleep in their own beds or use the toilet? It wasn't easy, but everyone survived, right? This is the same kind of thing. Don't give up if they don't endorse you on the first day, or the second, or the third ... Habits don't change overnight.

Set a good example for your family and they will follow. If your kids see you eating something, they usually ask to have their own, or at least want to know what it is, where you got it, and if they can have a bite. Make yourself a healthy snack and they will want to "share." Who knows, you might just get them hooked on healthy food.

Lay down the law. When all else fails, give them the choice. "I know you're hungry after school. You can have a cheese stick and some apple slices, or carrots and dip, or you can have nothing." Eventually, they will come around. Don't feel guilty for enforcing the rules! You are doing this for their own good. Yes, they may be disappointed at first that they can't have endless bags of gummy snacks and cans of soda, but they will get over it. Always remember why you are making this lifestyle change and it will be much easier to put your foot down.

No comments: