01 OCT 2021

Six Healthy Snack Tips for Kids of All Ages

Kids being watched through how to prepare lunch by an attentive adult helper.
Kids being watched through how to prepare lunch by an attentive adult helper.

Snack time is likely a part of your child's daily schedule — and that's not necessarily bad. With being back in school, and getting used to the new routine on the go, offering nutritious snacks can help curb their hunger and provide the energy they need to make it through the day.

Regular healthy snacks also boost energy, and can help you sneak more of the nutrients essential for their growth and development. Registered Dietitian, Laura O’Mary encourages parents to remember that “too much of even a healthy snack is not necessarily always a good thing. Showing your kids where they can find the serving size on the food label and have them practice counting out the proper amount of that item is key.”

When you are planning your next grocery trip or putting your shopping list together, here’s six tips for quick and nutritious snacks:

  1. Keep junk food out of the house
    Your child won't ask as much for cookies, candy bars or chips if they aren't around. Save those sweet and savory treats for special occasions rather than daily treats. Also, foods labeled as low-fat or fat-free can still pack plenty of calories and sodium. And foods touted as cholesterol-free can still be high in fat, sodium and sugar. Be sure to check nutrition labels to find out the whole story and make a smart snack choice.
  2. Power up with protein
    Protein will help your child feel fuller, longer. Stock your fridge with hard-boiled eggs, deli meat, and protein packed dairy such as yogurt and cottage cheese. For kids without nut allergies, offer nuts and nut butters.
  3. Go for the grain
    Whole-grain foods — such as whole-grain pretzels or tortillas and high-fiber, whole-grain cereals — provide energy and can help you feel fuller longer. Pair whole-wheat bread with a slice of cheese or deli meat. Gluten free? Try quinoa, rice or popcorn chips dipped in hummus for a satisfying snack.
  4. Broaden the menu
    Offer a rainbow of fresh fruits and veggies and have them ready for an easy grab-and-go snack. Try baby carrots or other crunchy veggies with fat-free ranch dressing or hummus. Dip graham cracker sticks or fresh sliced fruit in yogurt. Spread peanut butter on celery, apples or bananas.
  5. Sweeten it up
    Satisfy your child's sweet tooth with low-fat puddings, frozen yogurt or frozen fruit bars. Serve smoothies made with milk, plain yogurt and fresh or frozen fruit.
  6. Designate a snacking zone
    Only allow snacking in certain areas, such as the kitchen, and avoid serving snacks during screen time. You'll save your child countless calories from mindless munching. For snacks on the go, offer a banana, string cheese, yogurt sticks, cereal bars, carrot sticks or other less messy foods.

Teaching your child to make healthy snack choices now will help set the stage for a lifetime of healthy eating. Set a good example by eating healthy snacks yourself — your child might follow suit.

If you are concerned about your child’s diet, talk with your pediatrician or family medicine provider. They can help troubleshoot and make sure your child is getting all the necessary nutrients they need to grow and develop.

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