Saturday, April 10, 2010

Turning Children into Hobbitses

Baseball season is upon us. And I don't just mean the annual, Northwest, we're-gonna-make-it-to-the-playoffs--oh, scratch-that--we're-hoping-to-break-.500 roller-coaster-ride that is the life of a Mariners fan. I mean Little League.

Having never played a kids' sport myself, I don't know if they were always the nonstop snack-a-thons they are now. Snacks for some of the practices, snacks after every game, big thing of cupcakes at the end of season. Oh, and don't forget the Gatorades and Big League Chews in between. Maybe having reset our children's baseline blood sugar level at just-under-diabetic, we don't want to risk letting it dip.

Add to the sports snacking, the constant snacking at school. My children are requested to pack a snack, and parents are asked to provide classroom snacks for the unfortunate few who forget to bring their mid-morning rations. Then, with the rising class sizes, it's always somebody's birthday, so you throw some cupcakes or donuts or Rice Krispy treats on top of that. Whew!

No wonder Business Week recently reported on how American children have become grazing snackaholics, getting a stunning 27% of their daily calories from "salty, fatty and sugary treats"!

While my children don't get morning snacks, I'm as guilty as the next mom when it comes to letting them raid the pantry in the afternoon, and doing my part to feed the habit when I'm signed up as the snack mom, or it's my child's birthday. Occasionally I get virtuous and insist on fruit, or pop my own popcorn to share with other kids, but I've yet to see the child who agrees to celery with peanut butter as his classroom birthday treat.

I'm reminded of the scene in THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING where the Hobbits get sidetracked on their cross-country odyssey by their constant grazing, to Aragorn's annoyance. Strangely enough, they find, he doesn't eat "second breakfasts" nor "mid-morning snack" nor "elevensies." Somehow, we parents have stopped raising children and started raising Hobbits. We can only hope that their new diet of salty, fatty and sugary treats only stunts their growth, Hobbit-like. The hairy feet might be a little much.

If you're the type of person who reads blogs about farmers markets, you might have some great ideas to share. How do we break the snacking habit? And, if we have to do snacks, what can we offer that's both healthy and appealing?


  1. Some Little League coaches don't allow snacks. Well, OK, just the one coach. And boy, was he popular. But his wife never had to clean Rice Krispy Treat wrappers out of the dugout.

    The parents I admired brought cut up oranges.

  2. I think with kids one or two snacks during the day that are a good source of carbohydrates and protein is a good idea (peanut butter on whole wheat or rice crackers, cheese sticks, almond butter and apples, raisins...), but not the snacks that are filled with artificial flavors and colors. I admire parents that find alternatives to cupcakes, cakes, and candies for birthday treats and afternoon game snacks.

    Schools have a long way to go to improve what is being served in vending machines and in the cafeterias, however, it is the job of the parents to educate their children about what is healthy and nourishing and what leads diabetes and obesity.

  3. Thanks for the great snack ideas. Oranges seem popular at soccer games but not baseball (seasonal)? Haven't tried the almond butter yet...

  4. My five year old would have quit baseball already, were it not for the "fruit by the foot" he gets at the end of games. Such things have never been seen in our household, so it's a MAJOR treat. It's a short season, so I've chosen to look the other way.

    The other thing that makes me crazy about the sugar/carb snacks is the packaging. How much garbage do we add to landfills through snack product packaging? Ugh.

    Again with the compromises, but I tend to lean toward Roberts Pirate's Booty and the like when in group settings, or for sending snacks to school. NOT perfect, but I'm not homeschooling, so compromise happens.


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