Snack Smarts!

By Jen Faherty, MOT, OTR/L, CTP

Did you know that February is National Snack Food Month?

Did you know that at Pediatric Achievements we celebrate the special topic of FEEDING for the whole month of February??

Well now you know!

Snacks are an important part of daily life and can impact a wide variety of areas! Snacks can keep you nourished in between meals, “feed” your sensory system, and keep you from feeling that dreaded “hangry” feeling!

As an occupational therapist, I look at snacks as part of a sensory processing toolbox. For example, some of our children are less aware of where their mouth is in space, so they will consistently chew on non-food items (like their shirt or their toys). Other children might need a little help regulating their bodies so they can feel calm but alert. These children can benefit from specific types of tough, chewy, and/or crunchy snacks to meet their needs, such as jerky, carrots, or apples.  And don’t forget to wash all that goodness down with a drink – through a straw! Drinking through a straw encourages a sucking motion which can be very relaxing and calming.

Our mascot, Penny the Penguin (pictured), likes to eat all sorts of healthy fruits and vegetables so she can grow big and strong! Plus, she really likes how the crunchiness makes her feel alert and ready for learning. Sometimes if she feels like she has too much energy and might get in trouble for sliding down too many ice hills, she likes to eat fig bars and granola bars because all that chewing helps her feel calmer!

If you find yourself with a child in February (or any time of year!) who could benefit from a little more chewing, don’t be snack-a-lackin’! Be sure to snack smart and give them the foods they need to succeed, or give us a call for a feeding evaluation where we can tailor suggested foods to suit your child’s needs: 703-491-1044