Healthy Snacking for Kids
| Posted On Sep 27, 2018 | By: Sarah Mazerall, MBA, MS, RD, LDN
Back to school is definitely in full swing. In addition to figuring out the new routines and schedules, many parents know it’s also time to get organized about after school snacks. Many of my patient’s parents struggle to help their children reach their goals for eating the right amount of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and dairy. Snacks can be a great way to provide these nutrient-rich foods and play a very important role in meeting kids’ nutritional needs.
A couple of tips for success in snack planning:
- Prepare for success. We all know that preparing fruits and vegetables can be time-consuming, and kids generally want to eat a snack immediately after coming home from school. I recommend prepping fruits and veggies the night before (or doing bigger batches of fruit & veggie prep over the weekend, if you prefer). And remember that older kids can be involved in creating their own afterschool “snack plate.”
- Plan ahead for snacks on the go. Bring ready-to-eat snacks when you are out and about. Fruits are the original fast food and are a great staple in the on-the-run snack selection! Some of my patients use a small cooler to keep their snacks cold. This is particularly handy for families with kids involved in many activities.
- Avoid providing snacks within 1 hour of meal time.
Having snacks too close to meal time can spoil a child’s appetite. I generally recommend providing only water within 1 hour of meal time.
Need some inspiration? Here are 3 healthy snack ideas:
- Make it a Combo. Combine food groups for a satisfying snack – try yogurt and berries, apple with peanut or sunflower seed butter, or whole grain crackers with low fat cheese and cut vegetables. Many of my patients enjoy the classic “ants on a log” combination of peanut butter (or sunflower seed butter) on celery stick decorated with raisins.
- Vegetables and Dip. Jazz up fresh vegetables with a yummy dip. Try dipping bell peppers, grape tomatoes, carrots or cucumbers in hummus, guacamole or tzatziki.
- Mini Pizza. Drizzle tomato sauce over a whole wheat English muffin and sprinkle with low fat mozzarella cheese. Melt in toaster oven.
For more kid-friendly, healthy recipes, check out the Kids Eat Right website managed by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: https://www.eatright.org/for-kids
If you feel you would benefit from more individualized nutrition guidance on how to provide a healthy, balanced diet for your child, ask your child’s pediatrician for a referral or contact an Atrius Health nutritionist. Happy Snacking!