February 2009

Snack Solution

by Sally on February 26, 2009

My preschooler, Henry, is a snack fanatic. For a while there, I actually had to call his lunch a “snack” to get him to eat it. He comes by it honestly: Family lore has it that as a child, I lost exactly seven Tupperware bowls around our neighborhood because (as one neighbor put it), “Sally’s always carrying around a little bowl of something”.

Since I can relate to Henry’s fixation (and since he nibbles on healthy stuff like apple slices and dry cereal), I never really limited his snacks. But I’d started to notice he was barely making a dent in his meals, and I knew something had to give.

So I created Henry’s Snack Bucket—a big, plastic bowl placed on the bottom pantry shelf where he can reach it. There’s only one rule to the Snack Bucket: You can pick out your own snack from the bucket, but you have to ask first. Pretty simple system, but Henry was so thrilled, you would’ve thought I filled it with Tootsie Pops.

In his bucket:

Henry's Snack Bucket

  • Cups of Mott’s No-Sugar-Added applesauce
  • Small containers filled with cereal (Quaker Oatmeal Squares is a current favorite)
  • Small containers of crackers like Triscuits
  • Mini boxes of raisins
  • Baggies of Goldfish crackers
  • Individual squeeze packets of Barney Butter almond butter
  • Pictures of yogurt and string cheese (which he can’t reach in our bottom-freezer fridge)

I also started saying “no” to some snack requests—like the ones right after lunch or 30 minutes before dinner. Henry tends to ask for snacks when he’s actually just bored (that sounds familiar). If I get out a game or puzzle, he forgets all about eating. On most days, he gets three snacks a day (mid-morning, mid-afternoon, and bedtime) and his plate is much emptier at the end of mealtime.

Moms: Fill your own bowl. Or just share your kids’ bucket. Having a bunch of pre-prepped, pre-portioned, healthy choices will save you when you’re starving but short on time.

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Get Real

by Sally on February 16, 2009

Like a lot of moms, I often think about my life in before-kids and after-kids terms. Before kids, I grappled with dilemmas like “Could I get a healthier entree at the Italian or Thai place?” and “Spin class or yoga?” These days, it’s more “Would I burn more calories mowing the lawn or pushing the baby on his tricycle?” and “What kinds of meals can I prepare using only one hand?”

Eating (and living) well can be challenging at any stage of life. But as moms, we have our work cut out for us. Not only is time—to read food labels at the store, cook balanced meals, squeeze in a treadmill workout—at a serious premium, but we’re also the de facto household food and nutrition czars. In our job description: Ensure that everyone has a green vegetable on their plate and finishes their milk, deflect pleas for Yogos and Cookie Crisp cereal every week while grocery shopping, and negotiate two-more-bites-of-broccoli-if-you’re-even-thinking-about-dessert trade deals.

And of course, there’s the small but significant matter of what’s on our own plate.

I started Real Mom Nutrition to help moms who want to feed their families the best foods possible, who struggle with making their own well-being a priority—and who could use some practical, low-cost strategies for doing both.

In this blog, I’ll dish out ideas that have worked with my own family and weigh in on nutrition news and trends. If you’re trying to lose the last 10 pounds of won’t-budge baby weight or give your own eating habits a makeover, you’ll find realistic tips for that here too. And I hope you’ll leave feedback, questions, and success stories.

Now I’m off to make my famous one-handed spaghetti.

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