I came across this great article in the New York Times about snacking. It's ironic timing for me as yesterday when I went grocery shopping, I was scouring the cookie/cracker isle for packaged, semi-processed, almost-healthy snacks I could grab along to the kids' activities. (Of course, I ended up with so many boxes there's no room for them in my pantry).
Anyhow, this article talks about the culture in American society that we now expect that there will be snacks for kids and adults at EVERY activity that kids do - regardless of duration. That instead of coming home and going outside to play, kids now come home and seek to satisfy their cravings. And because so few of these snacks are home-made, this must be contributing to the declining health of our youngsters.
I can speak for myself that as an internist, I worry a lot about the obesity epidemic in this country, especially among children. Yet when it comes to my kids, I don't think much about the QUANTITY of snacks, but I try to get the 4 food groups into the day, try to make sure there's at least one vegetable on the table at dinner and try to avoid purchasing processed foods from the grocery store. I think about the quality of snacks but I really don't' think much about the number of snacks. In fact, I'll be the first to confess that I use snacks as a way to get the kids into the car, out of the house, avoid tantrums ... really it's my most frequent bribe because I considered it relatively harmless.
I'm not sure I'll change my parenting style but this article has definitely made me think about it!