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.
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:
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…
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!