Healthy snacks play an increasingly vital role in how children develop and maintain a healthy diet. Between 1977 and 2021, the number of calories children got from snacks increased by 53 percent. This increase in daily calories is attributed to the increasing prevalence of fast food, ready meals, “junk food”, processed and packaged foods. It is undeniable that excess calories increase the risk of weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, osteoporosis, tooth decay, and cancer. Here are tips for parents, teachers, nutritionists, and program leaders to provide healthy snacks for kids in the classroom, at school, at lunchtime, and elsewhere.
The number one tip for healthy snacking is to limit snacking after meals. Plan to eat healthy snacks after dinner until lunch. For example, instead of eating fast food and frozen meals that are loaded with sugar and fat, try applesauce, celery, cookies, and carrot cake. If you’re struggling to find healthy snacks between meals, consider offering your child mixed vegetables instead of a plate of fries or pizza. Remember, even with a snack, you want your kids to stay energized, so allow them to exercise after meals and not rely on junk food to keep them going.
Another smart snack idea is to offer your kids a variety of healthy proteins. Great options include low-fat cheese and hummus tuna salad sandwiches, fresh fruit, low-fat ranch chicken nuggets, lean ham, lean turkey, and chicken breasts. The key to making these dishes interesting (without being boring) is to serve them on an individual plate, such as a deli, with your favorite dip, or as a sandwich on whole wheat toast. Even if you don’t put it on the plate, try adding a protein drink like milk or a protein shake to your protein pancakes or sausages. For a healthy school snack, make macaroni salad with cheese and ham. For a protein-packed lunch, grill lean beef steak with fresh salsa and serve with tomatoes, peppers, and onions.
For a low-calorie snack, try offering your kids almonds, cashews, or sunflower seeds instead of regular potato chips or chocolate chips. Serve lean pork with tomatoes, bell peppers, and onions for a high-protein lunch. Or fried chicken with lettuce and tomato. For a healthy school snack, try chicken nuggets with lean ham, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, and walnuts. For a quick and healthy snack, pop popcorn in a pan with low-fat, low-sugar butter. You can also bake popcorn tortillas and serve them toasted instead of fried.
For a healthy snack, serve your kids plain yogurt topped with low-fat sour cream or low-fat cheese. If you want to add more protein, try adding low-fat yogurt. Nuts are another favorite healthy snack for kids, and peanut butter is a favorite of theirs. Children love to eat peanuts as a healthy snack for school. However, high-calorie peanuts, such as those used to treat animals, should be avoided.
For a healthy snack for school, replace the sugar with honey, agave, or maple syrup. Nuts and seeds are fine, but you should avoid peanut butter, especially those with artificial flavors. Opt for walnuts, almonds, and pecans instead. Mash a fresh banana and put it in a bowl for a healthy, delicious, and nutritious snack. Then add some granola and chocolate chips. Both are good for oats, fruit, and nuts.
A high-fiber snack is ideal when you need to snack between meals. An example of a high-fiber snack is a glass of fruit juice. If you drink fruit juice regularly, your stomach will have enough gas to keep you full for several hours throughout the day. Adding a few apples to your glass will prevent you from consuming sugary snacks throughout the day and keep you feeling full for longer. Nuts, seeds, granola, rice, pasta, or vegetables are great healthy snacks that pack tons of nutrients without calories. You can also find foods with high water content, such as peas, beans, carrots, squash, and dried beans.
When you eat snacks high in fiber and water, your body processes food faster and helps burn calories faster. This way, you will feel less hungry throughout the day and thus lose weight. Many people who eat a lot of fast food and processed food slow down for several reasons. Chemicals such as low-quality carbohydrates, unhealthy fats, trans fats, and artificial flavors can cause problems. For snacks, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, etc