Carrie please tell us about yourself, “I’m the creator of SNAC, a nutritional program empowering kids to practice healthy eating choices. I’m a certified nutritional consultant and an advocate for childhood health and wellness. I currently serve on the Oceanside Unified School Districts Wellness Committee, I’ve been a guest speaker on Mom On A Mission TV, and annually participate in the Kaiser Get Fit Expo. My SNAC program is currently being taught in the Oceanside School District, Girl and Boy Scouts of America, The Boy’s and Girl’s Club of San Diego and River Springs Charter School in Hemet.”
Let’s get started!
1.Tell us about SNAC!
With pleasure! SNAC, Smart Nutritional Action Cards, are nutritional flashcards that support healthy eating habits. SNAC is a new way to encourage an old way of eating; a “Back to Basics” message about food. SNAC helps kids understand that eating food, (unprocessed, whole foods) is the best way to accomplish what is important to them. Within the SNAC program, I rebranded foods as Muscle, Brain and Mover Foods. Kids learn which foods feed their brains and muscles and which foods will bring everything together. Each food group has a role and each group needs the other to help a body perform to it’s maximum potential.
2. How did you come up with the idea to help kids learn more about nutrition, and healthier foods?
I grew up eating all different kinds of foods. I was exposed to every type of produce you could think of, and that’s what we ate, because it was food. My parents did not worry about calcium, Vitamin D or protein. We ate food, not vitamins and minerals. I assumed when I had kids I would feed them the same. But everything is different. There is so much pressure to feed you kids the perfect food, the perfect amount of food, the perfect ratio of vitamins and minerals. I felt crazy. I thought “food should NOT be this hard, food is food!” So I thought that through. And the idea of talking to kids about what food does for THEM, not in them is what I wanted to do! My kids loved it! My friends loved the idea and wanted cards too, and their friends wanted cards. Before I knew it, teachers and after-school programs were asking for presentations and workshops. So my goal to make food easy turned into a fantastic opportunity! An opportunity to teach kids that food is awesome and they should try as many different types of food as possible, eat a little of everything and not too much of anything.
3. What’s your take on added sugar in foods?
It’s spinning out of control. And what is so terrifying is added sugars are everywhere. We know sugar is added to candy, soda, donuts and cakes. But now we have to worry about salad dressing, condiments, crackers, bread, the list really could go on forever! And every ‘little bit’ adds up. Illnesses and diseases thrive on sugar, we are going to see a very sickly generation in about 30 years if we don’t get a handle on our kid’s sugar intake.
4. How can we get kids to stop consuming as much refined sugars?
We can start ADDING food to our kid’s diets. Yes ADD food. SNAC’s golden rule, food is food. A food cannot really be bad or good. It’s not like food is mean and picks on you. But food can be non-beneficial. And that is what we need to re-learn. We need to re-learn the basics of healthy eating habits. The term ‘real food’ feels so overused and saturated but that is exactly what has happened. There is ‘real food’ & then there are overly processed foods. And that is where the added sugar hides.
I’ll go back to what I said, let’s add foods to our meals. We can move away from hidden sugars by adding or replacing a processed item with natural food. Add more food variety, more food options, keep offering, keep encouraging. Kids have lost their palette for un-processed foods, and are constantly looking for the over salted, over sweet food that sends them into a euphoric state of taste overload. It will take time to re-teach kids, but with honesty and consistency we can bring back the appreciation of eating a sweet carrot.
5. You wrote an interesting post on “being honest about what food is…” Can you tell us a bit more? (http://snaccards.com/cows-are-not-skinny/)
My kids think that is hysterical. We have a few SNACism’s.
1) The uglier the food Mom serves the better it tastes.
2) Never trust a skinny cow!
A skinny cow represents the idea of ‘something’s just not right’, vitamins shouldn’t look or taste like candy, candy is candy and vitamins are vitamins. Cookies are cookies. How is the power breakfast cookie you made any different then the cookie in the vending machine? You know the difference but your kids don’t. And there in lies the problem of making foods that were occasional treats, now the ‘go to food’. By making a breakfast cookie part of a normal meal you have now created a habit of cookies in the morning. You are setting you kids up for very hard lessons, freshmen 15 anyone? Imagine if you thought cookies were okay for breakfast?!
6. Last question, you wrote a great article on the Spidey-senses that kids have. Can you explain these “Spidey senses” a bit to us?!
Kids KNOW… Kids know when we are trying to doctor up their foods. They have this amazing ability to sniff out the mashed up cauliflower in the mashed potatoes. And the harder you try to hide food from your kids the more they are going to look for it, that one little piece of green on their plate may send them in to an almighty tail spin.
Back up and spin it this way! How amazing would it be if you told your kids “Yes you actually really like cauliflower. You have had it in your mashed potatoes for years. So go ahead and try that raw cauliflower. You may not like it, but nice job trying!”
In the end, confidence to try new foods is what will help your kiddos establish their healthy future eating habits. That is what we want as parents, educators and caregivers; kids to develop a well-rounded, and healthy relationship with food.
To find out more about SNAC, and what Carrie is up to, please click here to go to her website.
You can find her on Twitter too @snaccards