Choosing healthy snacks
Children have small stomachs and often need small snacks between meals to keep them from getting too hungry. Snacks can be an important part of a child’s diet to help meet their energy requirements, particularly in the younger years. Snacking should be seen as an opportunity to fuel your children with nutritious energy.
When choosing snacks, try to pick nutritious options from the following five food groups:
How to choose a healthy snack
- Breads & Cereals (preferably wholegrain with grainy bits you can see)
- Dairy (choose reduced fat most times)
- Meat, fish, poultry & alternatives (beans & legumes, eggs, tofu, nuts)
- CONSIDER THE SIZE OF THE SNACK
Choose small serves so as to not disturb the child’s main meals, but big enough that they don’t feel hungry.
- THINK ABOUT THE TIMING
Don’t wait too long to give a snack or your child will be so hungry they will eat anything in sight, without you having time to prepare something healthy. At the same time, you need to allow a gap of at least 2 hours between the snack and their next meal so that it does not spoil their appetite for their main meal.
- REMOVE ANY DISTRACTION
It is important to create mindful eaters who eat to hunger and enjoy the food they eat. If children are playing or watching TV while eating, they are less likely to experience the taste and texture and quantity of food they are eating, which can lead to excessive food intake. Try to stop, sit (without distractions such as TV) and eat.
- MAKE HEALTHY SNACKS EASILY AVAILABLE
Keep a selection of healthy snacks in the fridge or pantry including reduced fat milk and yoghurt, fruit, veggie sticks, nuts and wholegrain bread. Have a fruit bowl that you frequently top up with seasonal fruits.
- ENCOURAGE CHILDREN TO PREPARE SNACKS ON THEIR OWN
Teach your children how to use simple kitchen equipment to prepare nutritious snacks including smoothies, toasted sandwiches, popcorn, wholemeal muffins or pita pizzas.
Need some nutritious snack ideas? Try these:
- Homemade pizzas using wholemeal pita bread, reduced fat cheese, crushed tomatoes, herbs and plenty of vegetables
- Homemade popcorn with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of salt if required
- Wholegrain crisp bread topped with tomato and avocado or peanut butter or reduced fat cheese
- Serve carrots, cucumber and celery sticks with salsa or reduced fat vegetable based dips or reduced fat cream cheese
- Fresh or tinned fruit (in natural juice) with reduced-fat yoghurt