How to Curb Kid-Food Snacking

Finishing your kids' leftovers or digging into their snack bags can cost you, especially when you add up all that food over the course of a week.
How to Curb Kid Food Snacking

I was making my kids' lunches the other night and before I knew it, I'd eaten four Wheat Thins, a slice of turkey, three strawberries and okay, I admit, a handful of vanilla wafers. Not the most offensive items but I'll pay a price for my mooching-off-my-children's-food habit if I don't get it under control. And I know I'm not alone.

Whether it's finishing off those last few bites of macaroni and cheese, pizza crust or ice pop (so it doesn't drip all over the car seat, of course), eating your kids' leftovers can really add up.

As a general rule, you should estimates that each mouthful of their food you consume can cost you as much as 1 PointsPlus® value. All those morsels can have a big impact on your PointsPlus budget, if you don't track them.

Reality Check
Don't think it happens that often? For every forkful of food you steal from the kids, try placing that same amount of food in a bowl or write it down on a piece of paper and toss the papers into the bowl. Add them up at the end of a week for a reality check. I was shocked when I tried this recently: 28 extra PointsPlus values in seven days.

Wow! It was time to take control. So I loaded up on sugar-free gum. I pop a piece when I'm packing or unpacking my kids' lunch boxes, when I'm craving some of their treats or, quite frankly, any time I want to eat even though I know I'm not hungry.

For non-gum chewers, brushing your teeth with strong mint toothpaste works just as well. After all, mint and chicken fingers are not a particularly good flavor combination. Other tactics to help resist kiddie-food temptations include:

  • Eat together as a family so you have your own plate of food.
  • Provide meals and snacks more in line with your healthier eating habits so there's less around to tempt you.
  • Plan for a snack during your children's meals—unless you eat together—so snatching food off their plates is less of an issue.
  • Keep a stash of flavored coffees and teas for virtually calorie-free sipping while they eat. (I personally love naturally sweet licorice root tea.)
  • Read to your kids during their meal and snack times so your hands—and mouth—are busy.
  • Chat on the phone when you make dinner or clear the dishes so that you're less likely to nibble.
  • Use your baby's spoons to taste test food that you're cooking for the family so you get the smallest mouthful possible.
  • Have your own low PointsPlus value snacks tucked away in the diaper bag and car so you're not stuck with Teddy Grahams when hunger strikes.

The Bottom Line
While we should try to feed our kids grilled chicken, sautéed fresh vegetables and brown rice, many of us—including me—don't always get around to it. So here's a rundown of the PointsPlus values in kiddie foods you might find yourself sinking your teeth into.

Food Item PointsPlus value per serving
1 1/2 chicken nuggets 2
1 Oreo Double Stuff cookie 2
1/2 cup apple juice 2
1/3 cup macaroni and cheese 3
1/2 medium serving fast-food french fries 6
1 oz Teddy Grahams (about 22 pieces) 3
1/3 ice cream sandwich 1
1/2 cup dry cheerios 1
1/4 grilled cheese sandwich 3
1/4 cup raisins 3
1/3 granola bar 2
1/2 cup plain cooked pasta 2
1 oz plain M&Ms (about 35 pieces) 4
3 saltine crackers 1
1 small Tootsie Roll Tootsie pop 1
1/4 peanut butter and jelly sandwich 3
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