It’s important to make sure your child eats healthy snacks as part of a nutritious diet. Encouraging your child to make the right choices can be a challenge, but the key is to make snacks fun and readily available.
Fruits and raw vegetables have a reputation for being expensive, but they’re ideal snacks for kids because they are both healthy and easy to eat. Sliced kiwi, berries, apples, bananas, and grapes make easy finger food and can be served on their own or with honey, caramel or low-fat fruit dip. You can also sneak in fruits and veggies in other forms, such as applesauce, fruit leather, yogurt, frozen fruit bars and smoothies. For vegetables, cut up carrot sticks, broccoli, cucumber, celery or bell peppers and serve with low-fat dip or salad dressing. Alternatively, set out cut veggies like a salad bar and let kids make their own salad.
It’s also important to incorporate whole grains and low-fat dairy into your child’s diet. Pita pockets, whole-wheat English muffins, cereals, granola and cereal bars, baked chips, and crackers are sensible choices, as are low-fat cheeses, frozen yogurt, and pudding. Even pizza can be healthy, with low-fat cheese and plenty of veggies piled on top of a whole-wheat pita or an English muffin.
Nuts are another good snack, used sparingly. Before you share nuts with other children, be sure none of the other children are allergic. Trail mix, which can include a variety of nuts, seeds, raisins and other dried fruit, is a simple and fun treat.
As important as the food you eat is what your child drinks. Skip the sugary soda and serve your child water, low-fat milk and 100-percent fruit juice.
You can encourage your child to snack smart by making food fun. Serve snacks on fun plates, with colorful cups and napkins. Or cut sandwiches into fun shapes with cookie cutters. Another tip is to give kids choices, but make them all healthy. That way, everyone wins: Your child gets to choose their snack, and you get the satisfaction of knowing it’s nutritious. Being prepared is key: Make sure your refrigerator is stocked with sensible options.
Lastly, remember that even if snacks are healthy, they should be eaten in moderation. Don’t serve snacks too close to mealtimes, and limit them to about 150 calories per serving. With a little advanced planning and creativity, you may soon find that preparing healthy snacks for your children is easier than you think.