Smart Snacks for Kids
The word “snack” makes a lot of people think of unhealthy salty or sweet options. But snacking is actually a very important part of your child’s eating habits. The trick is to be careful about why, when and how your children snack.
Value of Healthy Snacking
Snacking makes up almost a third of the calories children eat today, and the majority of these calories come from empty calories, like soda, salty snacks and sweets. But when your children snack on nutrient-rich, portion-controlled foods that are part of their daily routine (not an extra unplanned treat), then they can:
Fill nutrition gaps. Smart snacks are a great way to get nutrients into kids’ diets they might be missing at meals.(1)
Fuel their day. Smart snacks help give kids fuel for after-school activities, such as sports practice, music lessons, and of course, homework! Kids might need to eat every three to four hours to give them a steady supply of energy.(2)
Learn healthy habits. Smart snacks help lay the foundation for a lifetime of healthy eating habits.
How to Snack
How you snack is as important as why and what you snack. Follow these snacking rules to help your children get the most out of snack time:
Choose a time. Set specific snack times so that snacking is a conscious activity built into your family’s routine.
Turn off the TV. Studies show that people who eat while watching TV eat more food than they need. So turn off the TV if your children are sitting down to a snack.
Keep snack food out of sight. Even healthy snack food should be out of plain sight to help keep children from munching when they are not actually hungry.
Measure snacks. Keep snacks small and simple so your children are still hungry at meal time.
Encourage your children to eat slowly. This will help them feel satisfied from their snack.
Fun Snacks To Try
Check out these fun snack ideas that your children can help make. Most recipes are made with adult serving sizes in mind, so remember that young children will likely be satisfied with half the portion that a recipe calls for.
• Dipped Pears Recipe
• Cinnamon Fruit-Pecan Snack Mix
• Crunchy Banana Pops, Recipe
1. American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation. http://www.health.state.ny.us/publications/4951.pdf
2. American Academy of Pediatrics, American Public Health Association and National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education http://nrckids.org/CFOC3/PDFVersion/preventing_obesity.pdf
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