Are We Snacking Our Way Into Debt?

by W. Lomano

Can the amount of daily food intake in the area of snacking be equated with debt?

Everywhere I go, I see Americans eating. They eat in their cars. They eat as they walk around the zoo. They eat in museums. They eat at the library. They eat as they walk through the grocery store. They eat in church -- and let their toddlers take snack bags to the church nursery (even when snacks are prohibited in the nursery).

It's almost as if Americans think they can't go even an hour without eating something! And it literally "shows".

As my son and I left his city parks program, I overheard a child, about 3 years old, say, "Mommy, I'm hungry! I want a cracker!" and his mother replied, "We have crackers in the car, honey."

We sat down in the pew at church last week. A family with two preschoolers sat down behind us. Before they were even fully seated, their 3-year-old daughter said, "Mommy, can I have a snack?" The mother promptly handed her ... a book.

Now, don't get me wrong. There's nothing wrong with a healthy snack once in a while: a handful of carrot sticks, an apple or banana, a few crackers. Heck, I don't even have a thing against having a cookie or two with a cup of milk after school! But Americans are eating all the time and they are teaching their kids to eat all the time.

While my friends allowed their children to continually eat in their strollers, I never did. At first, I thought I was a bad mommy, not giving my children snacks everywhere we went; after all, that's was everyone else seemed to be doing! But I realized the continual snacking was a very bad habit in the making: America is one of the most obese countries in the world, if not the top one, and continual snacking just adds to the problem.

In fact, continual snacking -- giving the kids "fish" crackers, graham crackers, fruit chews, snack chip bags, those plastic "juice"-filled bottles, Cheerios, and general junk food -- is not only costly in terms of the money spent on such items, but also in terms of health. The more junk food one eats, the more weight one gains. The more obese a person is, the more they will eventually spend on health care. And with the rising cost of health care, you could actually equate today's snacking habit with future debt!

Lack of willpower in the area of snacking can also reach over into other areas of spending. If one is prone to buying snack food because it's available and it looks good/sounds good, then one probably is prone to buying anything out of pure "want", rather than necessity or need for the product. So, those who are spending a lot for junk food also most likely spend a lot on other needless products, and can easily run themselves into debt.

Is there a solution to the snacking problem? Of course there is, and it's fairly obvious: stop snacking continually! For a start, quit buying snack foods (cookies, snack cakes, chips, crackers, fruit chews, those pre-packaged "lunch" and "snack" packages, etc.). If you don't have it around, it is easier to forget about. Don't take food with you when you go somewhere -- get rid of that stash of Cheerios in the diaper bag (or fish crackers, or whatever), and that stash of pre-packaged cookies in the glovebox. Don't go through the closest drive-through for a jumbo Coke. Take a bottle of water with you (re-use a plastic bottle over and over with your own tap water).

If you do feel the need to snack, stock your kitchen with fruits and veggies: buy carrots and celery and slice them into sticks immediately -- put them in a plastic container and they're easy to get to and there's no-fuss to prepare them when you feel the need to feed. And drink plenty of water -- its not only good for you, but it will fill you up and it's free!

In the long run, you'll be healthier without all the junk-food snacks; you won't gain unnecessary weight from the continual snacking and you'll save a lot of money in the long run in terms of that spent on unnecessary junk-food and future health care!

In a sense, less snacking can even make you money: When I sold my double stroller, which was used on nearly a daily basis for at least 3 years, I got more than 1/2 its original cost because it was so clean it looked nearly new. My friend's strollers always needed scrubbing and were washed until they were threadbare ... and still they looked, well, gross.

W. Lomano is a stay-at-home mom of two energetic boys, ages 4 and 6. She is the webmaster/owner of The Stay-At-Home Parents Page and in her "spare time" is a freelance editor, writer and web designer.

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