Snack Right!

Kids do a lot of learning during their formative years, which is why parents should urge their children and encourage them to pick up healthy habits as they grow up and learn to take care of themselves on their own. Things like brushing teeth, drinking water, staying active, and reading are all great things that can help to improve a child’s life as they grow into independent individuals, but it is also important that children eat healthy, too. Having healthy eating habits is not just important in the sense that children should be able to make healthy decisions when they’re older when it comes to food, but eating a balanced diet is essential to a child’s growth and development overall as well.

Unfortunately, many parents fail to eat healthy themselves, whether it be due to busy schedules or otherwise, but there are some things that you can do in order to improve the overall eating habits of your entire family, including those of your children. Snacking is an important aspect of a person’s diet, especially since people tend to forget to count snacks among the other foods they eat because snacks do not necessarily constitute one of the three main meals of the day. But many people end up gaining a considerable amount of weight because of this oversight, and in general people may not fully pay attention to the sorts of snacks that they feed themselves – or their children, for that matter.

So what kind of snacks should you consider stocking up on? It helps to consider getting in all of the major food groups but also accounting for taste as well as the snack’s ability to keep you and your family full and satisfied overall.

1. Whole grain cereal. With a splash of milk, and fruit and nuts if you want to get creative, a bowl of whole grain cereal can make a great breakfast, snack, or even a dessert. This treat is packed with vitamins, calcium, and fiber, too.

2. Cheese. Sounds simple right? Try pairing this protein-rich snack with something like grapes or even salt-free pretzels to add some variety and keep kids full until dinner time.

3. Smoothies. Smoothies are a great, and fun, way to help get more vitamin-rich fruits into your kids’ diet. Add yogurt, protein, or even slip in some veggies – they won’t notice the difference. Smoothies can be especially fun if you add a silly straw or even a little umbrella. A smoothie is a definite treat, and a much better alternative to ice creams or milkshakes.

4. Yogurt. This dairy treat can come in all shapes and sizes. Plus, you can add fruit or even pop them in the freezer to make it a frozen summer treat!

5. Sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes can be more than just baked as it is at Thanksgiving – try making sweet potato chips or fries. They’re healthier than other bagged chips or even greasy french fries, plus they taste just as great dipped in ketchup!

6. Peanut butter. This childhood favorite makes a great snack, especially if you pair it with something like apple slices, or even get a little creative with celery and raisins as well.

There are plenty of other things that you can add to your pantry that is easy to grab and better for your health. Pay attention to ingredients, look out for preservatives, and make sure that you and your family aren’t mindlessly snacking, either. Fruits and veggies are always great options – cutting them up into easy-to-eat shapes, or fun shapes if you have the time, and placing them into little baggies ahead of time make them more appealing to children. Try pairing them together, too, or adding nuts and protein into the mix. Don’t be afraid to have some fun with dipping options like yogurt, peanut butter, or even protein spreads. You can even consider getting things like dried fruits, veggie chips and trail mix for when you’re on the go and in a pinch.

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Are you watching what your child eats for snacks?

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.

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