Snacking the Healthy Way!

Date: March 7, 2019

For children, snack time is not only enjoyable, but necessary. It is important for kids eat snacks during the day so they don’t get hungry or low on energy. It is also important to make sure that snack foods are not just fun and tasty, but nutritious too! This can be tricky when children ask for foods that are tasty to eat, but low on nutrition.

This month is about healthy snacks. The key messages are:

  • Our bodies need healthy snacks to stay energized between meals.
  • Choose healthy snack foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy foods, and lean meats or proteins.
  • Snacks that have a lot of sugar, unhealthy fat, and salt like candy, cookies, and chips are “sometimes” snacks.

What makes a healthy snack? Instead of the chips, soda, and cookies that food companies advertise as snack foods, serve fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein. Here are some ideas for putting together a healthy snack!

  • Include a fruit or vegetable. Serve a fruit or vegetable AND a protein or whole grain at every snack. For example: apples and peanut butter, or whole wheat crackers and cheese.
  • Limit sugar. Read food labels and choose foods and drinks without sugar as one of the first three ingredients. Sugar comes in different forms: corn syrup, glucose, sucrose, and fructose are a few examples. They are all just sugar!
  • Avoid foods with trans fat. Trans fat are often in packaged foods (like cookies, cakes, muffins, and crackers), and fast foods. Only serve foods with 0g of trans fat on the nutrition label. Read the ingredient list and don’t buy foods with “partially hydrogenated oils”.
  • Serve water as a drink. Water is the best drink to serve with a snack- it is calorie-free and low-cost from your nearest tap! Encourage kids to try it with lemon slices, cucumber slices or other natural flavors!

How much snacking is ok? This depends on your child’s overall diet. But a good rule of thumb is to provide snacks about 2–3 hours between meals.

 Tips for Success

  • Involve your kids. Get your kids to help out planning snacks. They are more likely to try new foods if they help out!
  • Role model. Serve and eat a variety of healthy foods at every meal and snack. Kids learn good habits from their parents!
  • Be prepared. Have a supply of cut up, prepared fruits and vegetables in the refrigerator for snack. Store them in clear containers at eye level.
  • Get creative. Taste test healthy food combinations at home and pack them up for a healthy snack your kids will love.

Key Messages

  • Children need healthy snacks between meals to give them energy and nutrients.
  • A healthy snack includes healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low fat milk/dairy, and protein (eggs, lean meats, nuts, beans).
  • Limit snacks that have trans fats, a lot of sugar, and salt like soda, candy, cookies, and chips.
  • Be a healthy role model for your child by eating healthy snacks.

Fruits & veggies make tasty & easy snacks!

  • Celery, peanut butter, and raisins
  • Cucumber slices and cheese
  • Applesauce and whole wheat crackers
  • Hard boiled eggs and orange slices
  • Guacamole or salsa and corn tortillas
  • Baby carrots and hummus