Milk and cookies may be a classic snack for kids, but choosing healthier snacks is a habit you’ll want to start forming at an early age. Snacks can, and should, be part of a healthful diet. They help children refuel between meals and satisfy hunger. Unfortunately, your child’s snack choices are often influenced by catchy names and marketing strategies geared toward children. This is a contributing factor that can lead to increased calorie intake and higher obesity levels.
When we think of healthful snack choices, we should look to the five food groups – vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy and protein. Good examples include string cheese, apples and carrots. It also helps to keep a selection of ready-to-eat veggies in the refrigerator or fresh fruit in a bowl on the counter. Stock up on low-sugar, whole-grain cereal and fruit packaged in its own juice in an easily accessible cabinet.
It’s also important to read nutritional labels. Foods marketed as low-fat or fat-free can still be high in calories and sodium. Similarly, foods touted as cholesterol-free can still be high in fat, saturated fat and sugar.
Broadening the types of food offered, or available, to children will also help them discover new, healthy foods and will help set the stage for a lifetime of healthy eating.