It’s that time of the year. The Girl Scouts are out selling cookies! The Girl Scouts have an eighty year-old cookie tradition that has blossomed into a seven hundred million dollar business. In fact, the Girl Scout cookie business is the largest girl-run business in America!
How do we let our kids (and ourselves) enjoy these special treats at this time of year without going overboard? The reality right now is that one-third of the population of children I see in my practice (and around the nation) is overweight or obese. Given these staggering statistics, I try to counsel parents to make sure that special indulgences do not become regular dietary habits. Buying and enjoying Girl Scout cookies can be a fun occasion that doesn’t have to take away from good overall eating habits.
When counseling about nutrition I always think about BALANCE. I often refer to the USDA’s Choose MyPlate Icon which shows a plate filled with a balance of grains, protein, vegetables, and fruits. This is especially helpful when planning meals like dinner and lunch. I think that there should also be a similar balance when planning snacks. Many of the most common snacks kids eat are high in complex carbohydrates, fats, and simple sugars (cookies, chips, pretzels, crackers, etc). A healthy change that parents can make is offering snacks that include more fruits, vegetables and protein. One of the common afterschool snacks that we prepare at my house is called the “Super Snack Plate.” I arrange an assortment of different fresh or dried fruit, vegetables, whole grain crackers, and cheese for the kids to enjoy while winding down from a long school day.
Why not make Girl Scout cookies part of a nutritious snack plate? Kids can still enjoy a FEW cookies (not an entire sleeve in one sitting!) while also getting the balance of other healthy foods. After photographing this snack plate (pictured above) with a few tagalongs and samoas, I placed it on the kitchen table to eat. Over the next hour I watched my two boys enjoy the fruits, veggies, and cheese just as happily as the cookies. Want to know another great reason to eat Girl Scout cookies in moderation? THEY LAST LONGER!!