Daddy Talk: Summer Snacking
By Tim Krason
I knew the lack of routine in the summer had gotten the best of our family when I had to intercept one of our kids coming out of the kitchen with a handful of suckers at 7:30 one morning. I confiscated the loot and cited a house rule that I made up on the spot: “In this house, we don’t eat handfuls of suckers until 10:00 a.m.” My son glanced at the kitchen clock as if taking note and walked out, leaving me two and half hours to come up with a game plan.
Certainly, the transition to summer months comes with a lot of difficult obstacles at home, but this summer, my wife and I have been acutely aware of the food habits that need to be dealt with. Even though we rarely buy candy at the store, our kids seem to pull them out of every nook and cranny of our pantry. Clearly, candy spontaneously generates in unused bowls and drawers and cabinets; it’s part of the blessings of living in America.
When all three kids tried to raid the pantry again at 10:00 a.m., I was ready for them. I had set out some fruit and a tub of yogurt from the refrigerator and told the kids that we had a project that involved using knives. They forgot all about the candy at that point. The boys got to slice up bananas and strawberries, and Lydia, who’s only three — just a few months shy of knife readiness — was in charge of scooping yogurt into bowls. As a reward for their preparation of the “yogurt parfaits,” I permitted them to sprinkle a few dark chocolate chunks on top if they wanted to. Even though I won’t win any healthy snack awards for that one, I’m sure it beats the Slim Jims that I saw in the front of the pantry shelf.
Obviously, parents can only keep up with this trickery and manipulation for a certain amount of time. An equally difficult scenario involving food at home concerns the link between TV and snacks. What I mean is that the opening themes of kids shows — Power Rangers, Nature Cat, what-have-you — are laboratories developed to elicit an uncontrollable yearning for cookies, ice cream or potato chips… basically anything that is non-nutritional and addictive. So as soon as a kid begins watching a favorite show — BAM! “Can I have a Pop Tart?” The only event that rivals this compulsion is a parent’s announcement that it is bedtime, which also causes fits of hunger in children.
The best solution I’ve come up with is to install a TV inside our refrigerator in the crisper drawer. That way, at least when the kids watch their show they’ll be right next to a bag of carrots and the stalks celery, and they won’t be near the white cheddar-flavored Cheez-Its. But I’ve been told this arrangement could have its drawbacks. So a rule we’ve settled on for now is that we are not allowed to eat while the living room TV is on. The snacks must be consumed at the dining room table, so the kids will be forced to make a choice: eat or watch a show. That’s all well and good, I suppose, except that it’s exceedingly difficult for ME to follow this rule! For my own sake, I’d prefer that the TV be in the crisper drawer.