Snack Time! Healthy Snacks for kids
Is it just me, or do your kiddos ask for snacks on average at least once per hour? Often this is out of boredom, so gentle distraction or change of focus is all it takes to divert attention to something else. When genuine hunger strikes, don’t just reach for the animal crackers or cheerios. Fostering healthy eating habits starts from day 1, if you are offering up fresh vegetables, fruits and real food, kids will take notice and develop a taste for it. If there is always an alternative, in the form of allegedly “healthy” snacks like sugary yogurt or animal crackers, kids to will gravitate towards those.
Here’s an eye opening statistic according to the American Heart Association (AHA), by the age of 4, children on average, consume more than double the amount of recommended added sugar for their age. The next time you want to grab that vanilla or chocolate milk, or fruit yogurt cup, think twice, they have on average 18-24 grams of sugar, that’s as much as ice cream.
The AHA suggests that preschoolers should consume less than 3 teaspoons (or 12 grams) daily. Children ages 4-8 should consume no more than about 4 teaspoons a day (or 16 grams). As your child grows into pre-teen and teen years, and caloric range increases, the maximum amount of added sugar included in a daily diet should be approximately 5 teaspoons of added sugar (20 grams).
It’s no secret that most convenience snacks that allege to be healthy, are in fact NOT. Often they are loaded with sodium, sugar and other additives. Here are some alternatives for healthy and nutritious snacks to stack your cupboards with:
Granola Bars – most bars have 16 grams of sugar or more, seek out bars will 5 grams of sugar or less – Health Warrior Chia Bars, Trader Joe’s Nut Bars, Kind Bars, Mini Perfect Bars
Cereal – most have 10-16 grams of sugar per serving – seek out options with less than 5 grams per serving – Kashi original, Bear Naked Granola and Ezekiel are all great options
Yogurt, milk and dairy drinks – most have 16 grams of sugar or more, seek out unsweetened, NATURAL, sodium free and full fat probiotic dairy products, lactose found in dairy, is already a naturally occurring sugar
Chips & Vegetable Chips – these tend to be full of sodium and hydrogenated oil with little to no nutritional value whatsoever – opt for air popped popcorn, or baked crackers with bean, other grains (barley, quinoa, spelt etc) nuts and seed eg. Luke’s Organic Been and Seed Crackers
Cookies & Sweets – instead, offer up dried or freeze dried fruit – figs, apricots and dates are all loaded with natural sugar and satisfy a sweet tooth, freeze dried berries are also super crunchy, sweet and tart, all great options with zero added sugar, fat and butter, found in most cookies
Ice Cream & Frozen Desserts – now that the weather is warming up, the daily sounds of the ice cream truck and strategic placement of Italian ice stands EVERYWHERE can prove very difficult to distract attention from. Try to opt for natural cooling unsweetened lemonade with fresh fruit (often found in our local Farmer’s Markets), caffeine free iced teas (berry, citrus and passion fruit iced teas are all naturally sweet), or DIY popsicles made from crushed fruit
When kids do indulge in sweet sugary treats, which they SHOULD, just be conscious of it and balance the rest of the food for the day with healthier options offering up loads of vegetables and lean proteins. Moderation is key!
About the Author
ErinRose Baldry is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer, fitness instructor and food and nutrition specialist. She is passionate about exercise, cooking and sharing her knowledge to help and inspire others. If you have any questions, suggestions or feedback about nutrition, recipes, or getting your fitness on, please reach out!
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