Have you ever finished cleaning up from a meal with your family only to have your child ask you for a snack immediately after? When you hear the word ‘snack,’ are you imagining cookies, candy, and chips? If so, it might be time to rethink it!

We’re all exposed to tons of marketing and media influence every day and that can have a major impact on how we learn about snacks and treats. Stores are eager to offer pre-packaged ‘snacks’ that are often full of sugar or have very few nutrients. Those ‘snacks’ can leave kids feeling unsatisfied and still searching for something. Here’s a strategy to try in your home to help your kids understand the difference between snacks and treats so they can ask for what they need:

snack is a small portion of nutritious foods that we eat between meals when we feel hungry. Nutritious foods help to provide fuel our bodies and brains need throughout the day. Try pairing a protein with a carb such as fruit, vegetables, or whole grains.

treat is a less nutritious option that does not fuel your body and brain as much. These foods are often disguised as ‘snacks’ in stores but are packed with extra sugar and very few nutrients.

When talking about food choices with kids, try not to label foods as good or bad. Food is just food and we can all enjoy treats sometimes. Learning to eat and enjoy nutritious food encourages kids to develop healthy habits for a lifetime. Teaching kids to ask for snacks when they feel hungry and appreciate treats as an unexpected delight can help empower them to ask for what they need… or what they want. For more tips on talking to your kids about food, check out this article.

Need more examples? Use our Eat More, Eat Some, Eat Less Food Chart or our Healthy Snack Quiz to show kids which food options are always good choices! 

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