Turning Children into Hobbitses

Baseball season is upon us. And I don't just mean the annual, Northwest, we're-gonna-make-it-to-the-playoffs--oh, scratch-that--we're-hoping-to-break-.500 roller-coaster-ride that is the life of a Mariners fan. I mean Little League.

Having never played a kids' sport myself, I don't know if they were always the nonstop snack-a-thons they are now. Snacks for some of the practices, snacks after every game, big thing of cupcakes at the end of season. Oh, and don't forget the Gatorades and Big League Chews in between. Maybe having reset our children's baseline blood sugar level at just-under-diabetic, we don't want to risk letting it dip.

Add to the sports snacking, the constant snacking at school. My children are requested to pack a snack, and parents are asked to provide classroom snacks for the unfortunate few who forget to bring their mid-morning rations. Then, with the rising class sizes, it's always somebody's birthday, so you throw some cupcakes or donuts or Rice Krispy treats on top of that. Whew!

No wonder Business Week recently reported on how American children have become grazing snackaholics, getting a stunning 27% of their daily calories from "salty, fatty and sugary treats"!

While my children don't get morning snacks, I'm as guilty as the next mom when it comes to letting them raid the pantry in the afternoon, and doing my part to feed the habit when I'm signed up as the snack mom, or it's my child's birthday. Occasionally I get virtuous and insist on fruit, or pop my own popcorn to share with other kids, but I've yet to see the child who agrees to celery with peanut butter as his classroom birthday treat.

I'm reminded of the scene in THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING where the Hobbits get sidetracked on their cross-country odyssey by their constant grazing, to Aragorn's annoyance. Strangely enough, they find, he doesn't eat "second breakfasts" nor "mid-morning snack" nor "elevensies." Somehow, we parents have stopped raising children and started raising Hobbits. We can only hope that their new diet of salty, fatty and sugary treats only stunts their growth, Hobbit-like. The hairy feet might be a little much.

If you're the type of person who reads blogs about farmers markets, you might have some great ideas to share. How do we break the snacking habit? And, if we have to do snacks, what can we offer that's both healthy and appealing?