The art of snacking

Is snacking healthy??
Do kids need to snack??
What is a good snack??

These are some questions that may come to mind when your child says to you, “I want a snack.”  In our house, I often hear Edward saying, “Snack, Mommy” in the middle of the morning or throughout the day.  Depending on what he has eaten already for the day directs me towards what I offer.

Is snacking healthy?? Yes!  Research shows that snacking improves our functioning at work and kids’ learning at school.  Snacking on nutritious foods helps us to not be as hungry when the next meal arrives.

Do kids need to snack??  Yes!  Kids eat smaller portions at meal times than adults therefore, to get all their vitamins and minerals, they need snacks.  It is important to understand though whether the child is mindlessly eating or snacking for health (check out the blog: Mindless Eating). For the few minutes it takes to snack, invite your child to sit and turn off the TV and put away the toys.  If snacking is a part of your routine, the child will know what to expect. Practice mindful eating with your child.

What is a good snack?? Thanks to heavy doses of food marketing, many connect snacking with foods packaged that contain added fat, calories and sugars.  Make snacking into mini-meals, giving the opportunity for more variety and nutrition in our overall daily eating. Focus on providing something rich in protein and whole grains (3 grams or greater in fiber), see ideas below, or 2-3 of another combination of food groups. Aim between 100-200 calories for each snack.

What about the 3-C’s: chips, cookies and candy?? Yes, those do exist in our house.  But, we try to practice balance and moderation, too.  We know what our kids already ate and what the day ahead MAY bring for their plate.  So, the above every now and then happens.  But the real treat is when the child ASKS for something that is full of nutrition!

Choose a food from each column for a healthy, tasty snack!

High protein choice

Rich in fiber choice

½ cup greek yogurt 1 small piece of seasonal fruit
1 oz low fat string cheese 6 whole grain, low fat crackers
½-1 oz nuts 10-15 baked chips
¼ cup low fat cottage cheese 1-2 Tbsp dried fruit
½-1 oz low fat deli meat 1-2 Tbsp low fat granola
½-1 Tbsp natural peanut butter 1 slice 100% whole wheat bread
4-8 oz low fat milk ½-1 tortilla
1-2 Tbsp low fat bean dip 2-3 cups low fat popcorn
1-2 Tbsp hummus ½ cup cereal (preferably unsweetened)
1 kids yogurt drink/1 kids yogurt pouch ¼-½ cup raw seasonal veggies

 

 

Raisins/Peanuts/M&M’s: My sister gives this out at Christmas.  Since we enjoy it so much, we make our own:

Mix together equal amounts.  A good source of protein and fiber

Optional: Add Craisins instead of raisins; use candy corn or jelly beans instead of M&M’s; add almonds or other fun nuts instead of peanuts; add Cheerios for extra nutrition and crunch!

Banana Pudding Cups (serves 4): 
Tools:
four dessert cups, measuring cups, spoon

Ingredients:

  • 16 reduced fat vanilla wafers
  • 2 cups prepared fat-free vanilla or chocolate pudding
  • Prepare the cups: Prepare one vanilla wafer in the bottom of each of four dessert cups. Spoon ¼ cup of the pudding over the wafer in each cup.
  • 2 bananas, sliced
  • 2 cups whipped topping

 

Steps:
Layer it on: Place half the banana slices over the pudding and top each with ¼ cup of the whipped topping.  Arrange two vanilla wafers over the whipped topping in each cup. Spoon the remaining pudding over the vanilla wafers. Reserve four banana slices and place the remaining banana slices over the pudding.

Top it up: Dollop the remaining whipped topping over the top of the cups.  Decorate the tops with the reserved banana slices and remaining vanilla wafers.

From Junior Leagues: In the Kitchen with Kids, Everyday Recipes & Activities for Healthy Living

Nutrition information: 1 cup will yield: 367 calories, 63g carbohydrate, 6g protein, 9g fat and 2g fiber

Check out this handout we sometimes use at Dayton Children’s for Snack Attacks!

For more snacking ideas, check out Dayton Children’s on Pinterest where moms and myself pin snacking ideas!

 

 

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We have created this blog as a way to communicate key childrens' health and safety issues to parents and other child advocates. It is managed by Dayton Children's department of marketing communications. Comments can be sent to rodneyg@childrensdayton.org.

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