The Benefits of Smart Snacking for Children

By Jan Wade-Miller
“Oh no, you can’t have that now. It will spoil your appetite for dinner.” How many times have you heard that while you were growing up? Many adults feel that all snacks are bad for children and can lead to weight gain but that isn’t always the case.

The trick is offering the right foods at the right time and knowing that snacks can be an important part of your child’s nutrition. Even if he or she is eating three full meals per day, the average child’s stomach isn’t big enough to hold all the calories and nutrients needed to fuel growth and build tissues and bones. Most children need three meals and two or three wisely chosen snacks per day. A few benefits of smart snacking are:

∎ Manages hunger between meals.

∎ Provides an energy boost between meals.

∎ Keeps older kids from overeating at the next large meal.

∎ Helps prevent overweight.

∎ Offers you the chance to add that fruit or veggie your child didn’t eat at their previous meal.

Give smart snacks instead of the unhealthy, popular ones like chips, cookies and sweets. They provide very little in the way of vitamins and minerals, only “empty calories.” Here are some helpful snack strategies:

∎ Keep snack portions small; under 250 calories.

∎ Give the grandkids snacks and meals on a regular schedule of every three or four hours. Allowing sufficient time between them will ensure kids are not too full to eat their regular meals.

∎ Keep healthy snacks at the ready so the grands will be able to make smart snack choices.

∎ Use the Nutrition Facts label when choosing foods to be used for snacks to be sure they are low in calories, fats and sugar. Instead, buy ones high in calcium, iron and fiber.

For smart snack suggestions and more, click here!

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