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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I think it's healthy and beneficial to offer children (1.5-13 years) a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack everyday. But, I'm torn over whether to serve the same snack or different snacks everyday. Hear me out, if this sounds like a silly conundrum.

I've observed that today's children often are more focused on snacks than meals. They ask for snacks far more often than they actually need them (every hour, sometimes!). Even a newborn baby can go longer between feeds than today's children often do. I think it's best to put nutritional emphasis on meals. I want my child to be hungry at mealtimes. I want him to enjoy the food. I also value that time socially. It's a chance to bond as a family. So, I'm going to devote more time to that experience. I have a rough weekly menu (porridge on Mondays, fruit salad on Tuesdays, etc.) which offers variety from day to day. I also switch up the kinds of grains, legumes, fruits, etc. so we get lots of nutrient variety. We might do buckwheat porridge one week, corn grits the next, and so on.

The thing is, I'm not sure whether it's beneficial to take the same approach with snacks. When I offer a different kind of snack each day, certainly my child likes it, but I'm not sure whether it's good for children to be super excited about snacks. I remember my grandparents telling me they had the same snack every day after school. My parents also don't recall snacks being much of a thing, and if they were, they were pretty similar from day to day. I'm seeing a lot of disordered eating these days, and I generally think people of older generations had a healthier relationship with food. Certainly, we had a lower prevalence of diet related diseases.

My thinking is that snacks aren't necessary for everyone. They're necessary for babies and children, people with higher caloric needs (due to low weight, high activity, or pregnancy), and people with diabetes or hypoglycaemia; but a normal, healthy adult should be fine with three meals a day. Historically, that (or less) has served adults just fine. I'm not sure it's healthy for children to associate snacks with being any kind of big deal. I think it might be healthier for children to associate snacks as eating for necessary fuel, and meals and party food as being for fuel and pleasure and all the other reasons we eat together.

I've been sticking to a similar snack which I can add variety to, such as trail mix (switch up the nut and fruit varieties). My child does find this more boring, but he still eats plenty when he's hungry. I also give him opportunities to make (and thus choose) his own snack a couple times a week, and buy snack from a shop or vendor a couple times a week. And when we're on holiday, I do offer more snack variety.

What are your thoughts? Is it good to keep snacks more boring, or is it better to mix it up?
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