Busy families sometimes have difficulty in serving three healthy meals each day. It is thus not surprising that snacking has become an important part in the daily food intake. In recent studies, it was discovered that twice as many kids today eat snacks such as crackers, popcorn, and chips compared to kids 20 years ago. Soda consumption in children has increased by up to 37 percent. Not only does this mean extra calories, but it could also lead to tooth decay.
For parents, this means that they should pay particular attention to the snacks served to their kids as much as the regular meals. Many healthy options can be found within each of the food groups such as fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes.
Fruits and vegetables should make it into the snack menu of all children. Realistically speaking though, it is more difficult for parents to make their children eat these foods than any other types of snacks. One way for kids to enjoy their meals is to conduct taste tests or let kids choose the new fruits and vegetables they would like to try.
Fruits and vegetables can be served whole, sliced, cubed, or skewered. Changing their appearance or presentation can make them more appealing to children. Canned, frozen, and dried fruits are easy alternatives for those who do not have time to prepare. However, make sure that they are not packed with extra sugar. Otherwise, it would defeat the purpose of healthy snacking.
It is perfectly acceptable to pack in a dip with the fruits and vegetables if this would encourage the kids to snack on something healthier. Cheese with vegetables can be a yummy treat while a drizzle of chocolate over fruits is irresistible to kids. Also, choose snacks that make use of whole grains that are low in fat and sugar. Muffins, chips, breakfast cereal, popcorn, and other types of snacks come in this form. The good news is that these are tasty too. Avoid refined grains like pretzels and cookies as much as possible.
While dairy is an important part of a child?s diet, low-fat alternatives may also be considered. Protect the children?s bones and hearts by giving them low-fat or fat-free snack items. Yogurt and low-fat pudding are tasty treats. Since cheese is one of the top sources of heart-damaging saturated fat in children?s diets, choose low-fat cheeses such as 2% cottage cheese and serve them in small portions. To up the health ante, they can also be served with other foods like fruit, vegetables, or whole grain crackers.
Beverages should also be considered when snacking. Water should be the main drink served because it satisfies thirst without adding any unnecessary calories or sugars. If you chose to serve fruit juice make sure they are not loaded with extra sugars or preservatives. Look at the labels to make sure that it is not high in fructose corn syrup. Limit juice, even the all natural ones, to no more than 6 ounces per day and make sure it is served with meals only! Milk has many great qualities such as calcium and vitamins, but it is also full of sugar and should be served with meals. In between meals it is healthiest for children?s little bodies as well as their teeth to drink water. Please make sure you keeps kids away from carbonated drinks such as sodas of any kind since they not only are loaded with sugar but also have high acidity which cause demineralization of fragile enamel (the outer part of teeth).