With all the “snack food” products packed with excess sugar, artificial color and empty calories out there, snacking gets a bad rap. In fact, smarter snacking can make a positive contribution to your child’s daily nutrition and set them up to build healthy eating habits for life!
Here are three easy ways to redefine snacking:
Choose healthy snacks
Snacking, a word used to define mini portions of food served between meals, does not have to mean cookies, sweets and empty calories. Small portions of healthy foods such as avocado, black beans, cut vegetables, and plain yogurt with fruit are all great options.
Timing is everything
Coming to the table with a healthy appetite is a good thing. This means avoiding snacks for one to two hours before meal time for older kids. If your super active child is also super hungry, serve the vegetable portion of their meal first. Veggies won’t fill them up and will provide healthy nutrients. Kids are also more likely to eat vegetables when they are hungry.
Toddlers, on the other hand, are not always able to wait it out. Since dinner is often close to bedtime they might be too tired for a big meal. Instead follow their natural hunger cues. Provide most of their nutrition at breakfast and lunch and offer a nutritious snack in the late afternoon. (Bonus: You won’t have to worry if they pick at their dinner because they have already gotten the nutrition they need to keep them happy and healthy!)
Simplify snacking on-the-go
Plan healthy snacks ahead of time and keep them at arm’s reach. One idea is to dedicate a drawer or space in your fridge for pre-cut vegetables and fruits in reusable containers or bags, like (re) zip bags, by Blue Avocado. You can also stock your cupboard with healthy grab and go snacks like nuts, whole grain crackers and Kabrita Goat Milk Yogurt and Fruit.
Offering healthy snacks throughout the day can help take the pressure off main meals and ensure picky eaters get the nutrition they need. The eating habits we encourage now will have a lasting effect on their nutrition habits for life!
For more ways to promote healthy eating, check out Dr. Kate’s guest blog series on DrGreene.com.