Don’t eat between meals! You’ll ruin your appetite! Sound familiar? That is what I grew up with when I wanted a snack if I was hungry before a planned mealtime. Well, that mentality can be thrown out the window because snacking between meals is a good thing! The trick here is snacking on the right foods. The right kind of snacks can have health benefits for kids of all ages. Snacking can actually help your kids not to overeat at planned meal times (this goes for you adults too!!). “Studies show that snacking during the school (or work) day improves both mood and motivation, and may impact concentration. Snacks may help children maintain performance during times of high mental demand, like when taking an exam or making a class presentation.” Here are some tips for choosing the right kinds of snacks for that energy boost kids need throughout the day:
- Relax the Food Ties That Bind – You may have strict guidelines for the planned meal times, but loosen those reins a bit for snacks. It is ok to let your child have a little bit of a candy bar or some ice cream a few times a week. If you don’t, than they will get it elsewhere and eat a lot more of it.
- Choose the Lesser of the Evils – If there are two items that have the same amount of sugar, fat, and calories, try to choose the one that contains more vitamins, minerals, and fiber. The more nutrient packed the snack the better even if some of the ingredients aren’t the best nutritional choices.
- Stick to the Portion Sizes!! – Just because you are giving your kid a little wiggle room, doesn’t mean you should throw portion size out the window. However, try to avoid snacks that have the word “hydrogenated” in them. This means that there is some trans fat and we want to avoid trans fat as much as possible.
- Make It Easy to Eat Well – Make the food easily accessible and ready to eat and they will be more likely to eat foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain items.
- Make It Yourself – Some pre-packaged snacks are fairly healthy. However, by making the snacks yourself from scratch, it makes it easy to hide the healthy ingredients. This guarantees that you child will get the taste they are looking for and the nutrition you want them to have.
- Think Outside the Cookie Jar!! – A snack doesn’t necessarily have to be sweet! Get out of the mindset of thinking about cookies, chips, or pie when you hear the word snack. You can also go with non-traditional food items. As long as your child likes it, it can be a snack. Just watch the portion sizes!!
A quick and easy snack mix that your child can help make is made up of 10 Cheerios, 9 mini pretzels, 8 raisins, 7 Goldfish crackers, 6 chocolate chips, and 5 peanuts. This snack only has a total of 105 calories. Now that is smart snacking!!