If it’s healthier than a potato chip it must be a healthy snack.

Sure we know lots more about food, but when it comes right down to it, this simple consideration is how most of us decide what snacks to give our kids.  Skeptical?  If winning the “potato chip challenge” isn’t the basic rationale for pretzels, crackers, and popcorn, then what is?

We need a different standard for making snack decisions:

  • The foods we think are healthier than chips, really aren’t.
  • The low-bar standard set by chips teaches our children the wrong habits about snacks.

The Nutrition Perspective first.  Check out these NuVal Scores (out of 100 for top nutrition):

  • Lay’s Potato Chips Classic … 23 (A few brands & flavors score higher, but most score lower.)
  • Lay’s Baked Potato Crisps (Cheddar & Sour Cream) … 23
  • Back To Nature Cinnamon Graham Sticks …15
  • Rold Gold Pretzel Rods … 14
  • Nabisco Fig Newtons Fat Free …13

There are snack foods that score slightly higher than potato chips but the average score for snack foods is not pretty. Even chocolate milk and yogurt hover around potato chips nutritionally.

  • The median (average) score for all salty snacks … 17
  • The median score for crackers …14
  • The median score for granola bars … 14
  • Organic Valley Chocolate Milk 2% Milkfat … 24
  • The median score for yogurt … 28

The point is not that these foods are bad for you.  The point is to jettison the “potato chip challenge,” and to stop the habit of poor quality snacks. We shouldn’t teach our children to eat them regularly.

Why get our kids used to the crunch, the snap, the salt, the fat?  It undermines their interest in fruits and veggies AND it creates a habit they’ll have to break when they’re older.

So what should you do instead?

  • Teach your children to eat fruits and vegetables for most snacks (median NuVal score…100).
  • Use snack foods sparingly… once or twice a week.

It ain’t breakfast.  Snacks are the most important “meal” of the day.

Snack time is the easiest time to improve your children’s diet, both from a nutrition perspective AND from a habit’s perspective.  Up the ante at snack time and not only will your kids’ snacks be healthier, but they’ll eat more vegetables at meals.  I promise.

 I would love to hear from you?

  1. What kind of snacks did your parents give you?
  2. Have you been struggling to change your snacking habits?
  3. Do you think you use the “potato chip challenge?”

See Related: Think Snack TIME, not Snack FOOD,The Snacking Minefield, 10 Ways Improving Your Kids’ Snacking Will Improve YOUR Life, It Doesn’t Matter WHAT Your Kids Eat


Yogurt vs. Coke, Juice: Apple, Grape, Punch, Chocolate Milk vs. Chocolate Bar, Goldfish vs. Bunnies.