3534661790_f29b775f92Butter Beans Co-Founder + CEO, Belinda DiGiambattista, recently delivered an informative presentation to a whopping 500 kindergarten – 6th grade students about healthy snacks.

When you think about snacks, do you think of them as sugary or salty treats (that are filled with empty calories)? Or do you think of them as small meals that will provide your body with energy to help power you through your day?

We ask so much of our snacks. We want snacks to tide us over, satisfy a craving, taste delicious, be quick to prepare and easy to eat. With this in mind, Belinda encouraged the students to think about snacks as a small meal to help fill in the gaps, a time for your body to take in real nutrients and energy. She encouraged students to ask themselves “what benefits am I getting out of this?” when choosing a snack.

For example:  If you are having a snack of hummus and carrots sticks the answer could be: “This snack is fulfilling my want of something crunchy, fresh and savory, while giving me antioxidants (carrots) and healthy enzymes and fiber (carrots, garbanzos, lemon) to help my digestion, as well as good fats (thanks to the olive oil) to keep me full for a long time, protein (garbanzos) for building strong muscles and mental focus, as well as heart healthy vitamins, minerals and antioxidants!”

On the other hand, if you ask yourself the same questions about a packaged bag of “dorito’s” or fried chips your answer would be:  “This snack is satisfying my want of something savory and tasty, but full of fried fat and salt which makes my liver work extra hard and can make me feel slow and sluggish, is full of ingredients I can’t pronounce which will take a lot of time for my body to digest, and will probably leave me hungry again very soon!

The kids in attendance were completely engaged in this topic and in the takeaway – that your body will thank you for choosing snacks made from whole ingredients that fill you up and give you energy. They had great questions, loved learning about nutrition and were excited about new ideas. They listened attentively and then asked things like:

“What’s the difference between white bread and whole grain bread?” “How much sugar is in chocolate milk?” “Is it better to drink milk or orange juice for breakfast?” “Is strawberry milk better than chocolate milk?” “Is it OK to drink tea?”

It was interesting to see how many students raised their hand when asked if they skipped breakfast that day. In one group, roughly 25% of them did. How many of us rush out of the house before getting our own breakfast? These students, come from wonderful families all doing their best to raise bright and well nourished children. They are as hungry as the rest of us well informed adults trying to sort out our own health goals and dietary rituals, so that we can focus on the things we care even more about than our next snack.

What a gift, to have the opportunity to engage inquiring minds to consider the options before us. Truly, change on any front happens when we each take small steps; make small decisions that influence each next small step, and each next small decision.

Happy snacking to one and all.

Photo courtesy of ahemier