Written by Doctor G

Teach Kids to Eat Healthy Snacks

kid friendly vegetables amazingWe have 3 children, ages 15, 12 and 6. I feel like the meals I cook are pretty healthy, but we have big fights about snacks. My younger kids only want sugary or fried snack foods, and my older one really eats whatever she wants for snacks. They don’t understand that snacks should be healthy too! I’m sick of arguing and I don’t know what to do.

Ellen, in Fort Collins, CO

A few weeks ago I got to spend some quality time with a nutritionist, on the set of WQED-TV “iQ:smartparent.”

Jacqueline Ely, RD, LDN, from the Wilfred R. Cameron Wellness Center, was an amazing resource. She had really practical, helpful information about snacks and kid-friendly meals. The biggest surprise? Technology and those screens our kids love so much can help us feed them healthier!

Ellen, you bring up a great point that we discussed with a pediatric endocrinologist from Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Weight Management and Wellness Center:

Teaching our kids about food is even more important than what we “allow” them to eat.

Our kids will eat what we give them for a few years, and we should definitely build healthy habits. Then they will have many more years of making their own nutrition decisions. Your eldest child is already there! So giving them information about what they are eating and what their bodies need is every bit as valuable as not buying much junk food.

Since our kids love to use apps and screens, let’s capture that interest and focus it on nutrition! Check out:

  1. Food Fight! This app allows us to put two different brands of the same kind of food to the test. Teach your kids to put in two snacks they like (maybe two different fruit roll-ups) and see which one “wins” for nutrition!
  2. Two Foods This website doesn’t require a smart phone or a download. Put pretzels and potato chips in and get an easy-to-read look at what is good (and not-so-much) about two different options. Ask your kids to tell you which one is better for them!
  3. Fooducate. Another website, this will let you and your kids research together the snack foods that they love. Challenge your kids to spend a little screen time looking for the healthiest option of the type of foods they love!

We can improve our kids’ diet (and our own) by keeping sweet drinks and junk foods off the weekly grocery list. We can make our kids more effective decision-makers for a lifetime by giving them more decision-making power now, while they are learning from us every day.

Another option is to use some TV watching time for our kids to learn from someone else about nutrition in fun ways. PBS has a great series called Kids Lunch Lab, that would be great for your youngest child, Ellen. And your 12 year old might enjoy Plastic Fork Diaries’ site; Common Sense Media has a lot of positive things to say about this site for teaching tweens about food choices.

And please check out the show and the smartparent community to see other great tips about using technology to be healthier! Airing on WQED June 20th at 8:00 p.m. and June 23rd  at 3 p.m., it will also be available online a little later in the month. And check out Common Sense Media for great information about games, apps and just about any media your kids might encounter, including amazing nutritional information.


How do you combat the junk-food-snack-attacks at your house?


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