Make afternoons more nutritious for your children by offering them healthy snacks in the appropriate portion size.
Whether school is in session or the summer vacation routine has landed, hungry children are always looking for afternoon snacks. Wholesome snacking can play an important role in your child’s healthy-for-life diet. Two simple factors will ensure good snacking: kinds of foods and portion sizes.
Go for whole foods
When kids charge into the house, they can’t wait to eat, so have healthy snacks ready. Avoid overly processed foods. They’re more likely to contain trans fats, salt, sugar, and preservatives. Plant-based snacks are best—veggies, fruits, whole grains, and beans provide important phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals.
Single-serving yogurt cups, small boxes of raisins, and easy-peel citrus are good choices. Use snack-size plastic bags to make single servings of homemade trail mix or fresh veggies. Serve baby carrots and precut broccoli, celery, and cucumbers with salsa, hummus, or low-fat ranch dressing. To control portion sizes, store large packages of snack foods out of the way.
Kids’ll be thirsty, too. Skip the soda and offer ice water with a wedge of lemon or lime on warm afternoons. Lowfat chocolate milk or 100 percent fruit juice diluted with water are also good choices. Smoothies will quench thirst and can add fiber, vitamins, and minerals to your child’s diet.
For a downloadable Parent Handbook and more information on children’s nutrition, visit the National Institutes of Health We Can! web site.