Snacks are the easiest and quickest foods you can give your kids. You could simply open a pack of cookies or chips, and they will immediately have something in their tummies that will tide their hunger over until the next meal.
However, giving kids junk food and other packed snacks from the supermarket in between meals every day will not do anything good for their health.
Making Snack Times Healthier for Kids
To help your kids develop the practice of smart snacking, it is crucial for you as a parent to rethink the snacking routine in your home. You should also start scrutinizing the types of food you give them. This means trying out some picky eater recipes to get your fussy eaters (and even the not-so-finicky ones) to eat healthier snacks.
Here are some tips to guide you towards the right to path to smart snacking for children:
1. Plan their snacks
Creating a weekly meal plan offers several benefits. For instance, you and your kids stand to enjoy the same advantages if you plan their snacks for the week.
With a weekly snack plan, you can be sure to get all the ingredients you need to prepare nutritious and yummy treats when you do your weekly shopping. In addition, you avoid picking up unhealthy pre-packaged snacks like chips and cookies because they are not on your shopping list anymore.
What’s more, a weekly snack plan prevents you from serving the same foods over and over. When kids get tired of the snacks they are served, they may insist on eating something else (and revert back to craving junk food) or refuse to eat a snack altogether. Variety keeps children interested in food and motivates them to eat.
2. Give them light, nutrient-packed snacks
Snacks will give your children the energy they need to do their homework and chores, and to play after a long day at school. However, make sure you give them something that’s not too heavy; after all, you still want them to eat during lunch or dinner.
The best light snacks you can give your kids are some proteins paired with some fruits or vegetables, like a banana with some peanut butter, or even veggie sticks with a hummus dip. These snacks will keep them satisfied until the next meal rolls around. They will also get more nutrients to help them reach their daily requirements.
3. Come up with menus full of assorted fun and healthy foods
If your kids are not used to eating fruits and veggies as snacks, or they don’t even like nibbling on those at all, be creative with serving these items so that the snack will be sure to pique their interest.
Start by serving more than just one type of fruits and veggies. During snack time, place slices of apples, bananas, mangoes, peaches, carrots, celery, berries or other produce in separate bowls. Prepare a variety of dips as well such as yogurt, hummus, cottage cheese and fat-free ranch dressing. Encourage your children to choose a fruit or veggie and try them with different dips. This way, they can taste various flavors and perhaps discover combinations they like.
4. Stock up on lean proteins and whole grains
Protein helps a person feel fuller longer, regardless of age. As such, make sure you stock up on protein-rich foods and always include them in your kids’ snacks.
Examples of protein-rich foods great for snacks include:
- Organic deli meat
- Chicken tenders or nuggets
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Parmesan or non-fat cheddar cheese
Aside from pairing proteins with fruits and veggies, you can also add them to whole-grain foods. Whole-grain bread, pretzels or tortillas will also give your kids energy with some lasting power. You can make them sandwiches using whole-wheat bread, non-fat cheddar cheese and turkey slices.
5. Designate a daily snack time and snacking area
By serving snacks at a fixed time daily, you establish the vital (and healthy) rule that snacks are only available at certain times of the day. Make sure you schedule snacks so that they don’t interfere with a healthy meal.
Also, it is important that you establish a particular area in the house for snacking. Allow your kids to eat only in the kitchen or dining room or outdoors. Do not serve snacks in the living room or bedroom, where they can eat while watching TV or glued to their computer or mobile device.
When you follow this tip, you’ll save your children from consuming countless calories from mindless munching, which is unavoidable when they are in front of the TV or tinkering with a tablet or smartphone.
6. Be a good role model
Even at a young age, kids will look up to you and imitate the things they see you doing. They will develop important feeding skills by watching and mimicking you as well. As such, be a role model when it comes to smart snacking. Nibble on fresh fruits, veggies and nuts in between meals. Load up on water instead of soda and artificial fruit juices when you feel thirsty.
When your kids see you eating and enjoying healthy snacks all the time, you won’t have a hard time getting them to follow you. They will soon develop better snacking habits of their own.
Your kids will only spend a few minutes each day eating their snacks. But all the work you put into planning and preparing them will be worth it if you take snack times as opportunities to teach your little ones healthy eating habits.