In addition to regular meals three times a day, children often get quite a lot of calories from snacks they eat during the day. Unfortunately, it often means a lot of extra calories, sugar, and fat. In addition to the increasing risk of obesity, unhealthy snacks can increase the risk of tooth decay, especially if the children regularly eat sticky foods, donuts or candy.
Which Snacks Are Healthy for Your Kid?
Snacks can be a useful part of your kid’s diet if these are low-calorie and low-fat snacks such as fresh fruit: apples, bananas, grapes, oranges, strawberries, watermelon, etc. In addition to low-fat fresh fruit high in fiber and vitamin C other healthy foods for children may include:
- Dried fruits, including raisins and prunes. As they are considered sticky foods that may increase the risk of tooth decay, children should rinse their mouth, brush and floss after eating.
- Canned fruit, 100% fruit juice.
- Raw vegetables including carrots and celery.
- Dairy products such as low-fat cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, kefir.
- All grain snacks, which may include breakfast cereals, crackers (without flavorings and dyes), popcorn.
- Popsicles made from 100% fruit juice.
- Nuts and seeds. Although they contain a lot of fat and calories, they can also be regarded as a healthy snack, if the child is given only one small portion.
Healthy Drinks for Kids
It is also important what your child drinks when he or she has a snack. Many kids drink coke, tea or fruit drinks, which can significantly increase the amount of calories they consume during meals. Instead, accustom your child to drinking water, low-fat or skim milk and 100% fruit juice.
Most Unhealthy Snacks
In addition to snacks high in sugar and fat, heavy snacks and large portion sizes are harmful for children. You can avoid most harmful snacks:
if you don’t allow your children to eat unhealthy snacks, including high-fat and high-calorie ones, except for “casual treats”. This may include cookies, chips, sweets, donuts, fruit drinks, sodas, etc.
if you don’t give snacks to the children shortly before lunch or dinner. Good time for snacks is usually in the late morning and early afternoon for toddlers and preschoolers, and immediately after school for older children. Keep in mind that most children do not need to eat before going to bed, though healthy snacks contain only 100 to 150 calories, so they do not turn into an extra meal.