Healthy Snacks for Kids

IT’S INEVITABLE THAT CHILDREN WILL SNACK, SO CHOOSE HEALTHY OPTIONS TO KEEP THEM GOING AND GROWING

The fall season brings a busy routine for children: back-to-school activities, after-school sports  programs and reunions with friends. Help your child get enough energy for all these activities by serving healthy meals and introducing healthy snacks.

One way to do this is for your child to eat a healthy lunch and bring healthy snacks from home. Many schools provide a weekly or monthly calendar of school meals, so you and your child can plan the days you want to buy a school lunch. On the other days, she can bring a packed lunch from home that is healthy and enjoyable. Remember to pack snacks for mid-morning or mid-afternoon, when energy levels tend to dip.

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Give your child healthy snack choices that you know are healthy. If she wants pretzels, choose wholewheat pretzels or pretzels with reduced salt. If she wants pudding, choose a low-fat pudding. Most children seem to like apple sauce, so choose an all-natural brand instead of sugared apple sauce.

There are some healthy snacks, such as fruit, that children may not want to try. Cutting and peeling oranges and apples will make them more tempting. Children often resist other healthy snack choices, such as carrots and peppers, but if you include a small amount of low-fat ranch dressing, your child may end up loving them.

Smart snacking helps kids get the right fuel at the right time, whether they’re at school, on the playing field or at home.

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Soda and juice boxes should be eliminated as snacks. If your child asks for juice, make sure it is 100 percent fruit juice, and limit the serving to half a cup daily.

Snacks and your kid’s health

The total calories a child needs varies according to her body build, degree of activity and whether she needs to  reduce or add weight. Your school-age child’s appetite may go through stages: one day she may devour everything in sight, the next she may seem to eat less.

What’s important is that the meals and snacks she consumes over a week or two comprise a variety of foods that includes all the vitamins she needs. Most children like a variety of foods, so introducing them to new healthy snack choices needn’t be difficult.

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Say your seven-year-old meets 75 percent of her calcium needs . By offering her a cup of milk or calcium-fortified orange juice, instead of a cup of soda or fruit punch, you’re ensuring that she’ll exceed her daily calcium needs.

Trade a snack of a jelly-topped bagel for a tuna sandwich, or add chicken to pasta, and her iron intake will rise by at least a third. If your child snacks on potato chips and fruit punch, try switching her to trail mix and a fruit smoothie with milk for more calcium, vitamin C and B vitamins.