Portioning Out Snacks for Kids

The HealthGal Health Guide
  • Hershey has now entered the creative war of candy offerings with its debut of your favorite candy bars - Reese's peanut butter cups, York peppermint patty, Almond Joy, Special Dark Bar - in a bag with pieces format.  The company's main mission was to allow consumers who love the bars an opportunity to "share pieces" with friends.  But the secondary aspect of this new candy presentation is to possibly offer a more controlled eating experience.  It's really hard to un-wrap a bar of candy and just eat part of it.  It's a little easier to just have some candy bite-size pieces and save the rest of the bag for later.  You can also put a few pieces of these candies in a kid's lunchbox so that he gets a "portion-controlled treat."

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    Now I am familiar with the Snackwell cookie revolution that debuted fat free cookies during a fat free diet trend back in the nineties. The result was droves of women leaving supermarkets with shopping carts filled with these boxes of "OK to eat in abundance because there's no fat, right?" cookies.  That wasn't the intent of the company (or maybe it was) but the message was clear - if it doesn't have fat, you can eat it.....a lot of it. Of course that's not really true, but try to tell the public that a food with no fat doesn't equal permission for a food frenzy!!  Dieticians and nutritionists were challenged, almost forced to shout out that all foods need portion control, but the fact remains that supermarket shelves would empty out the second a new shipment of Snackwells arrived.


    The more recent concept of 100-calorie packs has been for the most part, well received by health professionals involved in nutrition.  The only problem seems to be that if you have serious eating issues, you will probably eat 4 or 5 bags of 100-calorie packs, and negate the intent of portion control packaging.  You may even convince yourself that these are small bags, so it's OK to have 2 or 3.  For some dieters, though, and certainly for kids, the measured portions offer a way to have a treat that is decadent and reasonable in terms of serving size.  We still need to remember that having it every day in lieu of healthier snacks, is a whole other discussion.  Treats, even those that are portion controlled, should be just that - intermittent pleasures and not necessarily everyday experiences.  A kid should still understand that an apple or carrots and a healthy dip or a small yogurt topped with nuts is really the kind of daily snack that one should have.


    The real issue is really about how parents are stocking their pantries and refrigerators, and how much time they are spending discussing wholesome nutrition with their kids.  The food dynamics in a household will really determine if a kid will be satisfied with occasional portion-controlled treats or if they will become literally addicted to processed foods and snacks.


Published On: March 26, 2010