What does your child do as soon as they get home from school? Do they run to the kitchen, asking for a snack? Do they open the fridge and take a peek at what’s inside? And as a parent, are you paying attention to what your child eats during these often lightning-fast moments?
Sure, it is important to pay attention to what your children eat throughout the day. As a parent, you probably have some degree of power over what your children eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. However, what about snacks? Younger children will need to ask for permission and help when it comes to eating between meals, but elementary aged children already know where to look. Food plays a huge role in a kid’s overall health and development, so it is important that you make sure that your children are making healthy choices – and the best way to do that is to provide them with healthy options.
Create a Healthy Menu
If your child is old enough to explore the fridge or pantry on their own, it may be wise to provide them with healthy options.
Try to provide a wide array of different foods that can be nibbled on or combined if desired. Things like veggies can be paired with things like hummus, yogurt, cheese, or even bite-sized deli meats. These items can then be combined with other items such as crackers, bread, or fruit. Small, snack sized items can be fun, but they can also be easy to lose track of so storing them in snack bags and such can be helpful. As a parent, you also can’t expect your child or teen to cut up fruits or veggies on their own. By pre-packaging snack-sized portions, choosing the healthier option becomes easier for kids to simply grab out of the fridge or pantry.
Healthy ingredients can be combined in a great number of ways, whether they are used to make a sandwich, a smoothie, or a simple snack plate.
Treats are not necessarily forbidden, but they should not be an everyday affair. Eating too much cake, cookies or other goodies are unhealthy in excess. Plus, keeping them around as a “sometimes” treat can make them all the more special!
Work with Their Schedule
After school snacking should not impede on dinnertime, but kids who go a long period of time between lunch and dinner should not have to wait so long either. Pay attention to when your child goes to kitchen to seek out a snack, or work around your schedule and theirs in order to determine when to serve dinner and whether or not to provide them with a snack beforehand.
This may hinge upon your family’s specific schedule, as well, but keeping these factors in mind can help you keep your child’s hunger satisfied. If your child goes to an afterschool program or goes to a babysitter’s or other family member’s house, ask if snacks are provided. If necessary, you can tell them what your child eats or should be eating, or you can plan ahead and make sure that your child is all set in the snack department.