Become a Snacktivist

Child picking and eating raspberry
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Today’s kids get about 500 calories a day from snacks, but the big problem is what they’re snacking on. According to researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, children get most of their snacks in the form of chips, cookies, crackers and processed foods made with refined white flour, salt, sugar, and artificial flavors and colors.

Snacking on junk food has become the norm—and suddenly, kids can’t do anything without being served a snack. Packaged cookies and gummy fruit snacks are doled out any time kids gather in a group, whether it’s a two-hour preschool class or a 45-minute youth soccer game. Every sporting event is now a reason to celebrate with cookies. Children get juice boxes, pouches and bottled punch instead of water.

Where “Snacktivism” Comes In
This is a grassroots effort to stop emphasis on snacks for the sake of our kids’ health. Not only because rates of childhood overweight and obesity are alarmingly high, but also because we owe it to our children to equip them with healthy eating habits.

If we teach them that the only kinds of snacks are artificially-colored cookies out of a package, how do they ever stand a chance at maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding complications like diabetes and high blood pressure, and living a long, healthy life?

Snacktivism Is About Finding a Better Way
It’s about thinking twice before serving snacks, about considering whether kids actually need a snack. And if they do, it’s about making a better choice. It’s about offering whole foods and about making fruits and vegetables the default.

Snacktivism Is Not About Giving Up Cookies and Cupcakes
Instead, it’s about putting them back in their place as special occasion foods, not every day choices.

Here are four ways you can become a snacktivist:

  1. Mobilize other parents at your child’s school, church and sports teams.
  2. Volunteer to bring food for events to model healthy choices.
  3. Talk to your child’s teachers and principals about the kinds of snacks served in the classroom.
  4. Ask your child’s coaches if they can institute a healthier team snack policy, or eliminate snacks entirely.
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Sally Kuzemchak
Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD, is a blogger on Real Mom Nutrition. Follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.