Snacking is IMPORTANT for kids
Given that children have small appetites and fill up easily, what they snack on is an incredibly important consideration for parents.
Snacks can provide up to one third of children’s energy and nutrient requirements, so they need to be nutritious, filling and FUN! 🙂
Just what consitutes a healthy snack then?
Often I get asked by parents which foods they can buy from the supermarket that will be good for their kids. Specifically, things out of packages that can be simply grabbed and thrown in the lunch box.
I have to admit this question disheartens me everytime and reinforces that marketing by manufacturers is winning and brainwashing so many of us.
I urge you all to remember one thing:
-a package is nothing more than a marketing opportunity for a manufacturer. DO NOT be sucked in by the claims and learn to read between the lines.
Last month we discussed how to read and interpret labels. One of the best habits you can get into to is simply taking note of the Ingredients List of a product.
What is listed in the Ingredients List from start to finish? This will tell you, in order of greatest amount to least, exactly what is in the product.
The first 3 ingredients are key and if these include a fat, sugar or salt, I would strongly encourage a revision of this purchasing decision (unless there are only a few ingredients in the entire product and these are present in relatively small amounts).
So what type of guidelines to follow when selecting suitable snacks?
- Consider how many kilojoules per serve. This should be between 450-600kJ per serve. But do not focus on this too much. Think more about what the food is and what NUTRIENTS it is delivering. A nutrient dense snack that comes with more calories is of course excusable, especially for kids (eg something based on nuts, good fats, natural sugars, etc)
- Portion control is often important and makes the difference between enough and too many calories been taken in. Be sure to check what the manufacturer defines as a serve as you may be eating 2-3 times this amount without realising…As an example, many 200g tubs of yoghurt have 100g specified as a serving size on the label. I’m not sure how many of you only eat half a 200g tub of yoghurt, but in my experience, most people will eat the whole tub.
- A low or reduced fat dairy food is a good option as this provides KEY nutrients such as calcium and protein. There is recent evidence to suggest that as many as one in five 6-7 year olds have diets inadequate in calcium.
- Does it contain other essential nutrients such as calcium, iron or protein?
- Is it based on low Glycemic Index carbohydrate (i.e. less refined and processed carbohydrates such as WHOLEGRAIN crackers, WHOLEGRAIN muffins. Avoid WHITE bread, muffins and pikelets)
- Is it tasty, fun and appealing for children!
- Wholegrain crackers (e.g. Vita Weats or multi-grain Corn Thins) and reduced fat cheese
- 100-200g low fat yogurt with berries
- 250ml low fat milk +/- small amount of MILO
- Fruit smoothie- try milk, a small banana or kiwi, vanilla and cinnamon
- Low fat cheese stick and veggie sticks
- Home-made oat based low fat biscuit/muffin and glass of low fat milk
- Veggie sticks, wholegrain crackers and hommous/low fat tzatziki
- Fruit skewers
- 30g Packet of “Lucky” nuts (higher kilojoule content but from “good” fats)
- Small tin tuna on wholegrain crackers
- Grainy English muffins topped with peanut butter (no added margarine/butter)
- Mini tin baked beans- yummy cold straight out of tin!
- Mini can 4 bean mix, chickpeas or tinned corn
- Home-made air-popped popcorn
- Muffin case mini frittata’s
- Vegie slices
- Mini Quiches
- Raw Slices based on cacao, seeds and nuts
I hope this gives you a few ideas…
Let me know what you think and I’d love to hear some of your very best quick, convenient snacks that you pack into the kid’s lunch boxes! 🙂
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