Snack Wars – Tips For Healthy Eating

At a recent BBQ, I glanced over and saw my twenty month old son eating a handful of potato chips. Since I prefer that he eat healthier foods, I intervened and took them away (wondering who on earth gave them to him). Another mother made a comment under her breath that a little bit of junk food wouldn’t kill him (mystery solved as to how he got those chips).

Snack Wars - Healthy Eating on the Go

Kill him? Probably not. But, while he is little, I am trying to instill good eating habits that he can hopefully apply in the future – apparently, a lofty goal. Never one to shy away from a challenge, I have come up with some strategies to keep my son’s food options healthy.

  • Read labels. Sounds like a no brainer, but take a lesson from me, read all labels. Recently I discovered the “whole wheat” healthy bread I bought contained high fructose corn syrup, which is not something I want my son to eat if I can help it.
  • Write it down. Keep a running list of healthy options that you can always fall back on. When you are in a rush, you won’t need to think about it, taking the stress out of snack time.
  • Take a stand. This one is, by far, the toughest one to implement. It requires you to say no when a very kind stranger offers your child a cookie. Or another mother offers a snack at a play date that you would prefer your little one avoid. It takes a lot of finesse to avoid hurting another person’s feelings, but I find that a simple “thank you so much for the offer, but my son cannot eat X” works beautifully.
  • Bring your own. I now carry a myriad of snacks so I can offer my son an alternative if other kids are eating something I would prefer he not eat. This strategy is a win/win. He gets to eat a snack he loves and I get to control what it is. He doesn’t even know the difference!

Your Turn: How do you help your little one eat healthy?

Jamie is a mom, wife, lawyer, professor and writer. These days, you can find her either writing for her website, playing with her son or teaching writing at Seton Hall School of Law.


  1. says

    Great tips! I’d also suggest finding a mom with goals similar to yours. Our neighbour is vegan and she’s introduced my daughters to some very healthy snacks – like tofu sesame sticks and asparagus (yes, she had my three-year-old, who admittedly loves all green vegetables, eating asparagus like it was candy).

    • says

      I totally agree Bonnie about how helpful the influence of other healthy families can be. When Julia was 2 years old, she started eating california sushi rolls with a friend and ever since she has loved sushi.

  2. lizzy says

    I usually have healthier snacks in my purse when my kids get hungry. What they put in their body now stays with them.

  3. says

    Wow dont you love it when other people comment on your kids eating habits ha ! always having fruit on hand, veggies washed and cut up at all times with dips like hummus, yogurt, granola bars in your purse, and if there has to be chips involved at least baked options are good!

    • says

      Great ideas! It always surprises me when other people make comments, but I just try to smile and ignore it. Better to take the high road!

  4. Tammy S says

    Great tips. I really like the write it down. I am the Queen of lists. I keep all kinds of lists on my phone so I have them in a crunch. This would be a great way to help me out.

  5. Anne Lehnick says

    I don’t think I’ve ended up with someone giving my littles ones a snack I don’t want them to have. That’s not cool. We usually eat at home so we are the ones making the choices for the kids. I buy lots of fruit because I can’t get them to eat too many vegetables. If we have an indulgent snack like ice cream, we are careful about the portion sizes.

  6. Mary Dailey says

    If you introduce children to healthy snacks early, they will have a better chance because they won’t really like gooey stuff later since they won’t be used to them. Save the cake for birthdays.

  7. says

    Great tips- especially about having a list of healthy snacks! I often forget some of the foods we always have around the house that are simple and healthy – those should be my first choice to reach for!

  8. says

    These tips are really helpful. I really like the last one saying “bring your own”. I believe that if you really want to eat healthy you need to make snacks for yourself.

  9. says

    Yes! Nice Post! I always bring my snacks too! I have two little daughters and I really wish they start from now on to eat healthier things!

  10. says

    Our little one is still a bit young to be going to parties, but I’ve seen so many other moms (including my sister) have to deal with this one. I think setting a great example is one of the most important things you can do as a parent, to model behavior and teach your children to stand up for what’s important.

    So whilst you are right a little something every now and again isn’t going to cause any long term damage, the principle is important. Its a delicate balance and one that I think will always be challenging.

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