American writer Sally Kuzemchak is a mother of two and a registered dietitian. She is based in Columbus, Ohio. I connected with her on twitter ( you can follow her @RMNutrition) and the way she writes about nutrition with such sanity and humour really appealed to me. I am especially interested in her thoughts on snacking and so I invited her to write a guest post on the subject. I hope you enjoy reading about 'snacktivism' as much as I did.
Guest post by Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD
I can pinpoint the exact moment when the snacks put me over the edge. It was after a soccer game, and my 6-year-old son had just half-heartedly jogged around the field for 30 minutes. I don’t remember if we won or lost, but regardless, the occasion was treated like a celebration—with frosted cupcakes, Oreos, and punch. I watched as the kids snatched up the goodies, some of them clutching multiple Oreos in each hand. I was overcome by one thought: What are we doing to our kids?
When I was growing up, we (maybe) had orange slices at halftime during our soccer games. Then we all went home afterwards and ate a proper lunch or dinner. We didn’t celebrate each game with cupcakes. And treats weren’t trotted out at every single gathering as they seem to be today. Treats were for parties, for special celebrations. Not because we met as a group or participated in a sporting event.
According to research, kids are getting about 500 calories a day from snacks—and most of that is coming from chips, cookies, crackers, and other processed foods. “Snack” has become synonymous with “treat”, instead of simply a way to tide kids over from meal to meal or as we dietitians like to suggest, to “fill in the gaps” from meals.
That day on the soccer field, I decided that I would start speaking up. I decided that I was going to try to make it better. So I started approaching my children’s soccer and t-ball coaches before the season started and advocating for fruit-and-water only snacks. When I found out my child was getting cookies and sports drinks at summer day camp every day, I called and talked to the director about improving those snacks (and eliminating the sports drinks in favor of water).
At first it was hard sticking my neck out, being “that mom” that makes a fuss. But then I realized two things: First, just how many parents actually agreed with me and supported my efforts (but were too shy to speak up themselves). And also, that one person really can make things better and cause positive change to happen. One day a friend jokingly referred to me as a Snacktivist, and I embraced the term. If you have an inner Snacktivist waiting to make change happen, I encourage you to embrace it too.
Here’s what a Snacktivist does:
Snacktivists find a better way. It’s about thinking twice before serving snacks, about considering whether kids actually need a snack. And if they do, it’s about suggesting a better choice, advocating for whole foods and for making fruits and vegetables a default choice. Snacktivists don’t ban cookies and cupcakes. Instead, they put them back in their place as special occasion foods, not every day choices.
• Mobilize parents at their child’s school, church, and sports teams
• Volunteer to bring food for events and model healthy choices
• Talk to their child’s teachers and principals about the kinds of snacks served in the
• Ask their child’s coaches if they can institute a healthier team snack policy—or
eliminate snacks entirely
For more information, ideas, and resources, visit my blog