Am I the only one who thinks American kids are a wee bit oversnacked? It seems like every kid we see at the playground has a Ziploc bag of Goldfish crackers in one hand and a juice box in the other.  Can’t kids go a few hours between meals without mindlessly snacking??

Call me a scrooge, but our pantry is pretty boring.  Aside from occasional exceptions (road trips, long flights), we just don’t buy processed snack foods. My kids know that if they want a treat, we have to make it together.  The only time this policy becomes a problem is when we’re at the park and they see other kids eating sugary, salty snacks.  Of course they want it, so I feel like a dud mom for showing up to the park with nothing more than a basket of toys.

When I was growing up, my mom fed us three meals and a small after-school snack. That’s it.  No in-between meal snacking was allowed (with the exception of fresh fruit and veggies, which were always allowed), and so we all eagerly looked forward to whatever homemade meal was on the table for dinner.  If we didn’t like dinner, we didn’t get dinner.

In good conscience, I just can’t regularly feed my kids something devoid of nutritional value but full of artificial flavors and colors.  And, because we choose to buy organic produce and meats, we don’t have room in our grocery budget for pointless processed snacks.

My good friend Adrienne knows how I feel about this subject, so she recently shared an article from Psychology Today, “Why French Kids Don’t Have ADHD“.  The study found that 9% of American kids are diagnosed with ADHD, but only .5% of French kids have it.  While many reasons contribute to this startling difference, the study suggests that diet has a lot to do with it. As the article states, “In the United States, the strict focus on pharmaceutical treatment of ADHD encourages clinicians to ignore the influence of dietary factors on children’s behavior.” In France, doctors take a more holistic approach to solving the problem as they are well aware that dietary interventions can sometimes help a child’s problem.

Of course nutrition makes a difference!  We’ve noticed that Mack can go from sweet to sour after just a few bites of sugary processed food.  He literally turns into a different kid.  It is not fair to subject his little body to that kind of assault, so we really limit the processed snacks.  I hope doctors suggest families change a child’s diet before offering medication to treat a behavior disorder. It’s the right thing to do.

So, I’ll continue limiting the junk foods my kids consume.  Hopefully by the time they are old enough to make some of their decisions on food on their own they will know which foods make their beautiful bodies feel good…and which foods make their beautiful bodies feel bad.

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8 Comments for this entry

  1. Mary Hood says:

    I absolutely Love this post! It hits home to our family so much! And a lot of people from down on me and say that it isn’t fair to them but then I stop and think it may not be fair but its healthier and with ADHD they don’t change diet they automatically try to push meds.

  2. Courtney says:

    Preach it, sister! I couldn’t agree more. I hate it when my kids try to mooch goldfish off their playmates at the park–I didn’t bring them a snack on purpose! I’ve noticed that when they do get even a small snack between meals (especially salty carb-y snacks) they don’t eat the next meal. I think it’s important for children to learn to handle the feeling of hunger between meals so they don’t become adults who grab a handful of junk at the first hunger pang.

  3. z.thompson says:

    thats really interesting. we don’t do crap food either. I have a question… we were at my neighbors house and her son pulled those red high fructose popsicles out and gave them to my kids. I didn’t want to be rude and say “oh no we only eat wholesome organic homemade popsicles”…. so I let my kids try it. My daughter (she’s 3 gave it to me with a stink face) my son (17 months) wanted to eat all of it but I took it away quietly after 2 bites and told my neighbors we had to go…. they are very nice and I know we will encounter this issue again. what do you say without sounding snotty?

    • Nicole O. says:

      I’ve had this exact thing happen and just like you didn’t have a good response at the ready so I let her have it.
      Next time I’m going to just say, “We’ve already had more than our fill of sugar today so we’re going to pass on that but thank you!”
      I do often wish that parents would quietly clear foods with the childs parents before doling out snack foods. I know they’re just being kind but I
      always say, “Would it be o.k. if I offered Sam a cookie?”

      • z.thompson says:

        Thanks Nicole!! ok Im going to remember that one for next time. And thanks Maureen for saying that we can’t control everything all the time… I was starting to feel crazy! haha

    • Maureen says:

      It depends. If we were close to a mealtime I might just say, “No thanks, we’re about to have dinner.” But, I don’t want to be a party pooper all the time – there’s nothing wrong with a special treat every now and then so I see nothing wrong with bending the rules. I can’t (and shouldn’t) control everything all the time, and trying to do so would drive me crazy.

  4. Nicole O. says:

    Guilty as charged. Not neccesarily with unhealthy snacks but I do carry around food at all times. Intendvto tote around cheddar cheese, raisins, nuts, grapes, blueberries, peanut butter sandwiches cut in small triangles, things of that nature.
    All the other moms tote snacks so I like to have a healthy option for her when the grazing begins.

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