Snacking 101

Your child comes home after a long day at school and claims to be absolutely “STARVING” and will “never in a million years” be able to wait until dinner. A slight exaggeration, perhaps, but it actually does have some physiological basis. We tend to get hungry every 3-4 hours, and it is very possible by the time your child gets home from school that is has been at least that long since they had lunch. You don’t want to spoil their dinner, but you don’t have time to make something nutritious…or do you?

We eat to fuel our bodies for optimal performance. Snacking between meals should be a continuation of that and therefore should be thought of as a mini-meal. If approached as such, there is no need to fret over your child’s half-eaten dinner if you know they have filled up on nutrient-dense foods beforehand! Here are some ideas and strategies to offering healthy snacks to your children even if time isn’t on your side.

What constitutes a “healthy” snack?

A snack should be low in calories (meal-like in composition, not in caloric quantity) but rich in nutrients. A handful of goldfish crackers might be an immediate hunger-fix, but won’t provide a whole lot of anything else.

Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Choosing whole foods (like fruits or vegetables) as opposed to processed foods (like things that come in bags or boxes) is always the better option, but not always possible. However, it is possible to choose a lesser processed option…those with the fewer ingredients the better!
  2. A snack that is high in protein and/or fiber will be more satisfying and make you feel full longer.

Finding time to make a nutritious snack seems to be the biggest culprit, at least it is in my house. But it can be done! It’s just important to keep in mind that different lifestyles may require different strategies…

For the planner… Put those organizational skills to use! Find a time to prep the snacks that you can roll out during the week. Some snacks to consider:

  • energy balls with apple slices
  • pumpkin oat bran muffins with unsweetened apple sauce
  • homemade guacamole served with red bell pepper slices
  • tuna fish on whole-wheat crackers
  • homemade trail mix

For everyone else…You can put together a healthy snack with foods you have on hand with minimal prep work!

  • apple slices with almond butter
  • plain Greek yogurt with mixed berries
  • mixed nuts
  • carrot sticks, grape tomatoes and hummus
  • mashed avocado on toast or peanut butter on toast
  • fruit with cottage cheese
  • chopped veggies
  • smoothies

Or better yet…. make your kids work for it!

Let them take some ownership of their nutrition by getting them involved in the process. Maybe lay out a variety of ingredients they can use to make their own personalized trail mix, or have them help you make a smoothie, or choose the fruit they want to mix with cottage cheese or yogurt. This may take a little prep on your part, but think about the independence you are fostering and the sense of pride they will feel when they are able to fix their own healthy snack!

Comments are closed.