Monday, May 11, 2015

Parents: Don’t be Surprised by Hunger!

By: Holly L. Goroff MS, RD, CDN

It will happen. It does not care about meetings, doctors’ appointments, plans, projects or promises. It will happen, you, the parent, YOU WILL GET HUNGRY! I know we have supermoms and superdads out there who seem to go and go and go without thinking twice about themselves. Their focus is always on their children. But this post is for you, mom and dad! We always talk about our children being choosy, but let’s talk about you – the parent!

Consider this scenario whether you are a stay at home parent or work outside of the house (because we know we are all busy!): you have had back to back obligations all day. You ate a healthy breakfast and then ran out of the house (or around the house) to get started with your daily routine. In a few hours you feel you are getting really hungry but don’t have a healthy food option readily available. You’re in the middle of your day and you just don’t have time to grab a sensible lunch because of many different reason…you fill in the blank! What would you do?
You would be a victim of your surroundings…that cookie on the table, a bag of chips, something fast from the refrigerator, or if you are outside of the home - vending machines and drive throughs are always easy to grab. It’s the healthier stuff that tends to be slightly harder to find when you are hungry NOW! Also let’s face it, the hungrier you are, the less you care about quality of food and you make even worse decisions that can sabotage your healthy eating efforts for the day, especially if you were hungry earlier and avoided your brains message to your tummy that you are HUNGRY! The hungrier we are, it seems the worse our eating decisions become.

It sounds like a silly thing to point out, but especially for those who are trying to achieve a healthy weight, it may seem to make sense to stick to your three meals a day and not have any food available in between those times to reduce the calories from mindless eating.

There is truth in that thought! Mindless eating should be avoided at all costs because it has nothing to do with hunger. But let me make a quick distinction between choosy snacking and mindless eating. When I suggest snacking, I am suggesting you make arrangements to not allow yourself to become ‘starving’ and therefor avoid making poor food choices. To do that I would bring, or have on hand, a few low calorie, high fiber snacks and water or seltzer and have them with you especially on busy days. Be choosy about your snack and drink options. Sometimes it is easier to put yourself in your children’s shoes and think if you were the child, what would you, the parent, be feeding yourself? I am sure you’re not going to choose cookies and sugary drinks!

To avoid mindlessly eating your healthy snacks, I suggest keeping the food out of arms reach (out of sight – out of mind, right?) For example, put the food items in the trunk (if you have a car) or pre-portion a serving or two and put it in your cupboard at home so you don't over-eat because it’s there – this happens all the time with the infamous ‘trail mix’.

So parents, don’t let yourself be surprised by hunger. Our children surprise us enough with that! Plan for hunger to strike and be choosy with your snack decisions. This is great role modeling for your children to observe as well.

What are your favorite healthy, choosy snacks? Do you work inside or outside of the home? 

About the Author: Holly is an experienced dietitian in both clinical and community nutrition. She is currently serving as the Clinical Nutrition Manager at now guest blogger for Choosy Kids!

She received her Master of Science degree in Nutrition and Food Studies from the Steinhardt School at New York University. She is published through her research and contributing work at Burke Rehabilitation Center investigating nutritional factors impacting neurological rehabilitation in stroke patients.

In addition to managing her staff of clinical nutritionists, she has a passion for serving at-need and underserved communities. She teaches outreach programs focused on mindful eating and strategies to make healthier lifestyle choices to at-risk community populations. She has recently been made lead in her hospital for teaching and managing the outreach classes to reduce childhood obesity.
She has expertise in: weight loss and management, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, dealing with polypharmacy and achieving nutrition goals, achieving wellness goals in a creative and resourceful manner and motivating change.

37 comments :

  1. I'm never surprised by their hunger, because it is endless, but I am prepared! When I'm not prepared they get crackers and I'd so much rather they get fresh fruit. Blueberries are their favorite! Thanks for the reminder!

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    1. I always try to have fruit around too but crackers are a great emergency go to! Do you eat those things too?

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  2. Having healthy snacks is a must in our home. Myself and my kids LOVE to snack and I just hate it when I'm not prepared! And the kids are constantly hungry! What is up with that?! Thanks for sharing! xox Christine | Amidst the Chaos

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    1. It is endless energy and endless eating, right? And food is fuel so we just have to keep refueling!

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  3. Great tips! I never think about getting portions set ahead of time, and that would really help. I'm trying a new healthy eating plan right now, so these tips will come in handy. Thanks!

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    1. Good luck with your new eating habits. Stick with it!!

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  4. I work.. and snacks are SO important to me! I hate being hungry.. I get a headache... and I will make really bad choices if I don't have something on hand. I love cottage cheese and bean salads for snacks!

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    1. I get headaches too if I don't eat! Great way for our body to tell us to just eat!!

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  5. This is why we keep the junk food in a closed up pantry & the fruits on the countertop!

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  6. Thanks for these reminders. I make sure to keep healthy snacks on hand and only buy junk food once a week for our 'free' day.

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    1. Is your free day a day when you treat yourself?

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  7. Loved your post wish you had posted this a year ago when I started working on healthy diet lol. Agree with you on healthy snacking and I now keep fruit with me for my evening snack break like apple or pear. Better to eat them than processed foods like chips which I used to. I think for me it was just making habit to reach for fruits rather than chips or cookie, took a while but I now I feel good.

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    1. I am glad that you mentioned that it took you awhile. If we start to provide our children with healthy snack options at an early age, they will form healthy eating habits from the start that will continue into adulthood. As for us adults, we have to take the time to "re-learn" healthy eating habits. Good luck to you!

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  8. Thank you for the great tips and the reminder to keep healthy snacks stocked and easy to access!

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    1. Key words: stocked and easy to access. Ice cream and cookies are always stocked and easy to access at my house, but I also make sure I have fruit and veggies on hand too! Thanks for stopping by!

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    2. It's funny that you mentioned ice cream - my husband did the food shopping this week and bought 4 different kinds of ice cream! FOUR!

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  9. This is a great reminder! I do this all the time! I get so hungry, I make horrible decisions. I've been making changes to improve that. I always have to remember to check portion sizes because those calories can sneak up on you! I love trail mix and dried fruit-but they need to be small portions!!

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    1. Good for you on checking portions!! Sometimes 1 pack of something is 2 or 3 servings and we don't need that for a snack!! Keep up the good work!

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  10. I love fresh fruits, nothing better then keeping a bowl of cleaned fruits in the fridge and ready to eat.

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    1. Go you!! Just be careful washing a long period in advance before eating and storing back in the fridge. I rememeber something about that not being good for the fruit (now I'll have to google this!!!)

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  11. I am so happy my child's favorite snack is bananas!!! Cheap and nutritious... Just hoping her love for bananas stays lol

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    1. Bananas are most def cheap but they are loaded with sugar and the riper they get, the more sugar it produces!! So pay attention to the quantity you and your little one eat of bananas (and to be fair - most fruits have a sugar content to them.)

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  12. We always keep the junk food put up in the pantry while the fruits are out on the counter. Much easier to grab as well as healthier!

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    1. Love that idea. Having the healthy snacks in sight definitely help!

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  13. Great article! I know we have too much junk food in my house..

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    1. Oh I still have junk food in my house but I always start with a healthy choice and if I am still craving it after the healthy choice then I'll make that decision. Sometimes a big glass of water helps with junk food cravings too!

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  14. Great tips! Healthy snacks in moderation is ok. It is important to feed yourself!

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  15. I am terrible about the drive thru...especially on work days! I have been trying to bring a healthy lunch and healthy snacks I enjoy (fruit, yogurt, homemade low sugar muffins ) so I'm not so tempted to stop when I see these golden arches!

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    1. Drive thrus are tough! I just think about costs...I have already purchased the food I have with me (or that I can eat when I get home) so why waste more money on food that isn't even good for me? Hope that helps!

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  16. You make a good point...my kids definitely eat healthier than I do, because I make them! Now I need to make myself eat healthier too :) Great ideas!

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    1. Isn't it so hard being the parent?! But we all learn from example. Just think about how much energy your kids have after they eat a healthy snack. You could have that energy too!!!

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  17. I've always needed to eat frequently--I feel sick and faint if I don't, and I imagine it'll be the same after kids, too. I think just trying to keep healthy snacks in the house is a good strategy, since we eat whatever's in the house. I love to make big meals and then just warm up leftovers whenever I find myself hungry again.

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    1. I am a big believer in portion control. So I think making a big meal and eating leftovers for a couple of days is totally fine as long as you eat the right amount. Same with snacking :)

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