My first few years with The Hamster were ones of smugly healthy eating – for him and me. Proud of my extended breastfeeding, organic baby food, mostly homemade and thoughtful take along snacks, I felt sure that nutritious eating would always be part of his life. Silly me.
Now at almost 5, with just a toe in the water of the real world, he is deluged by opportunities to forgo healthy eating. From lollipops at the bank to chocolate kisses at the post office to hard candy at the barbers, an errand running day turns into an exercise in sugar ingestion.
After several years of almost imperceptible head shaking, sometimes acknowledged, The Hamster caught on. He now watches me, not the purveyor of forbidden treats and complains loudly if I decline. I demure.
Struggling for balance I eventually developed, what I call, “The in and out” rule. In the house we eat healthy foods. Outside the house, just about anything goes…within limits, of course. If he is offered candy, cookies, cakes, preservative laden “fruit” snacks or a juice box, I generally allow him to have some but, not many. This sometimes means making a quick exit, but often he is satisfied with just one.
As his world expands, grocery shopping has become a bit more challenging. The mantra, “Mommy doesn’t buy candy; Mommy doesn’t buy that kind of fruit snack; they’re not healthy; Mommy doesn’t buy…” is mumbled monotonously throughout the trip, less often now, thankfully as, he is getting the message.
At home, healthy snacks are a part of life and, like any child; he is willing to live on snacks, rather than real food for days at a time. Fortunately, the contents of our pantry ease my conscience when I lazily allow him to do so.
What do I stock? Here are some of The Hamster’s favorite snacks.
1. Vegie Tray - Raw Carrots, broccoli, green beans and ranch dip
2. Organic Cheese sticks
3. Organic cereal bars
4. Fruit all kinds – strawberries, kiwi, grapes, oranges, mangos, bananas, blueberries
6. Crackers – Annies’ Organic gold bunnies are his favorite
7. Frozen Yogurt pops – he won’t eat yogurt, so I freeze the squeeze kind (organic, low sugar)
9. Frozen organic waffles
10. Fruit Leather – the all fruit, no added sugar kind
11. Dried fruit - cranberries, apricots, apples, cherries
12. Nuts all different kinds
13. Lots of seeds – Sunflower, pumpkin, etc.
Most of these I purchase at Trader Joe’s, though traditional grocery stores are carrying more and more variety. And, I make minor exceptions on Halloween, Christmas, Easter and other candy giving holidays (aren’t they all?)