Snack Attacks – Making Better Choices


Choosing the right snacks when we are feeling tired, stressed and overwhelmed can be a challenge. Over the next few months we’ll be tackling this issue, guest bloggers will share their tips and advice on making the best food choices during times that can have us reaching for empty calories.

Thank you to Kristy Hoffman-Rieken, R.D., L.M.N.T. for starting us off and for offering these great tips to help keep us on track. We look forward to sharing more great tips from Kristy so stay tuned.

Dealing with Snack Attacks

You run out the door trying to remember your purse, car keys, child, child’s bag, child’s toy while dealing with the screaming child who doesn’t want to stop watching Dora to go to the doctor or who is hiding because she knows what is coming up when you leave the house for another trip to the hospital. You exhale exhaustedly as you pull the car out of the garage. Driving down the road, you feel a pang of hunger and realize you left your breakfast on the counter while trying to get your children off to school and your screaming child into the car.

I know this scenario all too well as it has happened to me on more than one occasion. As a blessed mother of five children, ages 9 ½ years to 17 months, trips to the doctors and specialists are often a normal part of the week. As moms, we are focused in taking care of our loved ones and put ourselves on the back burner. But what happens to moms when we do that? We become hungry, cranky, stressed, unloving moms. I can say those ugly adjectives because that is what I experience when I don’t care for my needs.

Planning ahead for snack attacks does take time, but it will help alleviate headaches, hunger pangs, hangry (hungry + angry) symptoms and tearful moments. Here are some tips that I have found helpful when dealing with numerous appointments, times away from home, or situations when I find there is no cash in my wallet. I also surveyed several mom friends to get their snack stashes for their tummies (and for hungry kids too).

*Fruit and veggies – these are always good items to munch on. A handful of washed carrots, celery, grape tomatoes, grapes or berries is an easy prep snack. Wash and bag into individual sacks or containers after purchasing, if you will eat within the next 2-3 days. Colored peppers, cucumbers, cauliflower and broccoli are also great to go snacks.

*Dried fruit or veggies are great snacks due to the longer shelf life. Portions are smaller – 2 Tbsp or what fits into the cup of your palm. Cherries, craisins, raisins, snow peas are just a few to try. Fresh fruit – apples, clemetines, oranges, will travel better than bananas. Plan to eat bananas within a couple hours of leaving home and put on top of the bag to prevent a bruised, mushy mess. Put peaches, pears, plums in a baggie before leaving to catch the juice when eaten – especially if doing so in the car.

*Fruit snacks/strips/leathers are a great quick snack, especially for little ones. Select ones with reall fruit and/or juice when possible. Squeeze pouches of fruits/veggies are also an easy snack for kids – especially when waiting.

*Nuts are a great snack to keep in the bag/purse/car as they will last longer. Give almonds, pistachios, walnuts, cashews, peanuts a try if you haven’t yet. Mix with cereal, dried fruit, and/or chocolate for a longer energy snack. Scoop a tablespoon or two of any nut butter into a portable container and enjoy with fruits, veggies, pretzels or pita chips.

*Granola bars/energy bars are an easy snack to pack and take. I aim for ones that provide 4 or more grams of protein to help me stay more satisfied. My kids prefer cereal bars; bring extra wipes as they are easily smashable in the bag and then sticky when eaten.

*Crackers, alone or with cheese and/or meat additions are another great snack. Select ones with whole grain as one of the first three ingredients and 3 or more grams of fiber to keep you full longer. Cheese sticks and Baby Bell cheese are staples in our snack packs. Salami, pepperoni, Canadian bacon, and summer sausage are all easily stackable on crackers to make a fun sandwich. Other grain items to select from include: tortillas, whole grain bread, bagels, rice cakes. My staple breakfast when I’m heading out the door is a whole grain bread, peanut butter-lots, chia seed, sliced almond and dried fruit – usually cherries, sandwich. It gives me the energy and focus I need for several hours.

One mom suggested keeping a small plastic container filled with snack bags containing your preferred (and your kids’) snacks in the car and then replenish every few days or as needed, depending on how much car time you have had that week. Add paper towels, wipes, and a plastic bag for trash to help with the mess food in the car creates.

Fluid is another must have for the car/bag. I purchased an over the door hanging shoe holder with several slots that easily holds portable beverage bottles. My older kids grab a bottle (and lid) from the bag and fill with water before we leave home. Adding slices of lemon, lime, orange, pineapple to the water provides extra flavor and encourages more drinking too.

The next time you are getting ready to head out the door, take a few moments to look over this list and see what you have on hand or need to add to the grocery list. You will save yourself time, money and hangry/tearful moments later.

k rieken
Kristy Hoffman-Rieken, R.D., L.M.N.T. specializes in treating eating disorders in children, adolescents, and adults at Children’s Hospital Eating Disorders Program and Behavioral Health Clinic in Omaha, NE. She received a B.S. in Nutrition and Food Science with emphasis in Dietetics from South Dakota State University in 1997, and a B.S. in Health, Physical Education, Recreation with emphasis in Health Promotion from SDSU in 1998. Kristy completed her dietetic internship at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinic in 1998. Prior to working at Children’s Hospital, she worked as a clinical/rehab dietitian in brain injury rehabilitation at Quality Living, Inc. from 1998-2002.

Kristy recently celebrated her thirteenth year at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center by switching to a casual position in order to allow her more time to be mom to Kyler – 9 1/2, Keaten – 8, Kort – 5, Kas – 3, and Maelie – 17 months, and to assist her husband with the two funeral homes they own and manage in Oakland and Griswold, Iowa. In order to keep her sanity and health, Kristy runs, dances with her daughter, sweats with friends in bootcamp class and kick boxes her crazies out. She enjoys writing in the wee hours of the night and hopes to share her experience, strength and hope in Finding Serenity Now in blog form soon.

Kristy Hoffman-Rieken, RD, LMNT
Clinical Dietitian
Eating Disorders Program/Behavioral Health Clinic
Children’s Hospital
Omaha, Nebraska


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