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Home » Health

Confessions of a closet snacker

Submitted by on Wednesday, 3 March 2010 2 Comments
Back when my job involved actually leaving my house, there wasn't a lunchbox in the world big enough for me.

I usually ran out the door without breakfast, triggering the need to pack snack one. The midafternoon post-lunch letdown led directly to snack two. If the day was long or stressful and I hadn't packed snack three, I'd hit the vending machine before I hit the road.

It all would have amounted to atrocious eating habits if I hadn't packed healthful food - cheese, fruits, whole grains.

And that's where I often screw it up for Big Guy. I know he's going to be ravenous when he gets home from school, even if he does eat all his lunch. On days when the world isn't blowing up, I'm ready for him. On the days when chaos reigns, well, have some CheezIts, kid.

It's a habit that's become ingrained in the American culture, according to research published this week in Health Affairs. Young kids are eating more snacks than teens these days - enough to account for more than a quarter of their daily calories.

And the amount of calories consumed also has increased 168 calories a day during the 30 years the research covers.

“My underlying fear is that we’re moving away from being hungry and eating for satiation to just eating,” said Dr. Barry M. Popkin,  co-author of the study and director of nutrition epidemiology at the University of North Carolina. “Food is there, and we eat.”

For us, though, making sure "food is there" actually works better. If there's a bowl of strawberries or apples on the counter when Big Guy hits the door, that's what goes in his mouth. Lacking that visual suggestion, though, he'll usually ask for crackers. This week, we have a stash of juice bags left over from soccer snacks, so he's been all over that, too.

Left unchecked, it would lead to the same trend that Popkin saw nationally: Kids filling up on sweet or salty snacks, as well as juice. The latter has led to many discussion with Boots, who tries to insist that if it's 100 percent juice it's just as good as fruit. No, it's not. It's better than the high-fructose-laden swill that passes for a "fruit drink," but it's hardly a health food.

Given my history as a grazer rather than an eater, it's all too easy for me to fall into the snack-your-way-through-the-day trap. I do need to purge the CheezIts, though, and prominently display the real cheese.

Copyright 2010 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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2 Comments »

  • Leslie K said:

    WHY aren’t Robin Eggs Malted Milk balls on that list?

  • Debra said:

    Actually, that’s one candy I’ve never liked much. I can’t handle the malt.