With so much media coverage on the childhood obesity crisis, it may seem like after-school snacking is a thing of the past but before you deem snacking taboo, let’s look at the facts. According to Parents magazine, many doctors agree that snacking is actually healthy and necessary for children who expend a lot of energy but have small stomachs. However, in order to be healthy those snacks must be the right kind of snacks because not all snacks are created equal.
When most of us think of snacks, especially the afterschool kind, it is likely that we think of cookies, cupcakes, and the other sugary snacks that populated our childhood. Unfortunately, these are the kind of snacks that need to be reserved for special occasions. This means that the first step many parents need to make in order to improve their children’s snack situation is to change how they think about snacks. Instead of looking at a snack as a reward for getting through the school day, think about it as the fuel young bodies need to get through their afternoon.
Here are some tips to help you pick the healthiest fuel for your child as they head back to school.
A is for Apples
Whole foods like fresh fruit and raw veggies are nutrient dense, kid friendly, and an easy option for kids who are always on the go. Sliced apples, sectioned oranges, bananas, frozen grapes, and cucumber sticks are all great snacks that kids will eat because they like them. Cut them into easy to eat shapes and store them in the fridge so there is always a quick and easy snack within reach.
B is for Berries
Berries of all kids are packed with nutrition for growing bodies and they are sweet enough to satisfy and cravings for sugary snacks. Serve them up fresh or used dried versions to make your own granola bars or trail mix so that you can control the ingredients and the calories. They also go great when blended into yogurt.
C is for Crunch
Everyone loves a crunchy snack but reaching for the bag of chips can mean more calories than nutrition. Give your kids a healthy crunchy option like whole grain crackers, air-popped popcorn, or carrot and celery sticks and it will satisfy any crunchy cravings without adding a bunch of extra calories. Unsalted nuts and home mail trail mix are other great options for crunchy snacks.
D is for Dairy
Low-fat yogurt, string cheese, sweet fruit-filled smoothies, these are all great dairy-based snacks that give your child a pop of protein to help fuel the rest of their day. Dairy products are one of those snacks that can either way in terms of nutritional content per calorie which is why it is important to consider the calories contained in each snack and pick those that offer the most nutrition for the lowest calorie count.
E is for Eggs
Lean protein options like eggs, sliced turkey, and tree nuts are also a great source of protein that will handle your child’s hunger without weighing them down. Hard boiled eggs, snack-size bags of unsalted nuts, and mini-wraps made with lettuce and a slice of turkey are all great make-ahead snacks that provide healthy grab-and-go options.