Boring is Best

“Boring is Best” for processed snack foods.

In my last blog I talked about the importance of getting your family to eat less processed foods and also why this is so hard. In this blog I’m going to give you my first simple strategy to help your family eat less processed snack foods since this seems to be where a lot of these processed foods sneak into our diet.

The “right” way to do this of course is to have NO processed snack foods in your house and to offer only whole foods like fruits, veggies, a source of protein, or even leftovers as a mini-meal – easy right? Maybe, but not realistic for most of us to do this 100% of the time, although it is a great goal to work towards and hats off to the families who are able to achieve this golden standard of snacking. But my reality is different and I do let some processed snack foods into my home. I do this though in a very controlled way and I call it my “Plan B” (B is for “boring”) snack option.

Plan B is to keep only the same, limited selection of processed snack foods in your house. The goal is to pick snacks that are not too bad for you and certainly ones that are not your favorite, eat-in-one-sitting type of snacks. Think of the mantra “if it’s not in your house, you won’t eat it” while making your selections because you know which ones are your family’s ultimate favorites and you can avoid bringing those home (Oreos and potato chips anyone?)

So here’s how to do it - simply pick about 5 snacks and stick to those SAME snacks EVERY WEEK. Choose some of the lesser of the evil snacks such as the ones that contain whole grains and are non-GMO and trans-fat free. I find that this strategy works well because otherwise you could bring home a different combination of processed snack food each week, and just the novelty alone of those new snacks would entice your kids to choose these processed foods over more healthy choices. At least if you have the same snacks in the house all the time, the novelty will wear off and your kids will only eat these foods out of desperation, for instance when they’re in a hurry, have a craving for something salty, sweet and crunchy, or no other healthier options are available. It also makes grocery shopping a lot easier if you buy the same things week after week.

Below are examples of middle of the road, processed snacks that work well for this strategy. I’m not advocating that these are “healthy” choices, but the point is that if you keep it the same week after week, then the other more healthy, whole food choices like smoothies, celery with peanut butter, olives, nuts or hard boiled eggs, will entice your kids even more.

Popcorn - you can make your own air popped, but we also keep bags of Non-GMO popcorn on hand for a quick school snack to pack in the morning.

Goldfish (I buy the whole grain variety, at least it makes me feel better....) These take the place of cheesy doodles and bigger cheese crackers because for some reason, these don’t seem as addicting as those chemical coated ones.

Triscuits or any other “whole grain” type of cracker - pair with cheese or peanut butter.

Pita chips or pretzel thins - pair with hummus.

Tortilla chips - pair with guacamole or salsa.

Graham crackers (just the boring traditional ones, not the teddy bear shaped or chocolate ones...) or ginger snap cookies for a sweet treat.

You can splurge once in a while and offer different snack choices for sleepovers or parties, but your standard processed snack choices should stay the same unless you upgrade to a healthier option.

To illustrate how well this works in our family, just the other day my 13 year old was looking through our cabinets for a quick snack to eat before leaving and exclaimed “These snacks are so boring - we NEVER have any good snacks in this house!”  She then proceeded to grab an apple from the bowl on the counter and ran out the door.

Plan B in action.

Mission accomplished!