Supporting breakfast, lunch and dinner, children require small snacks throughout their day to ensure that their energy needs are being met. Here are our top tips for creating healthy snacking habits for you and your children.
Be a role model
Children look up to the adults around them and watch what they eat. The best way to encourage healthy snacking is by being a role model to your children. If they see you eating healthy snacks, they will be more likely to do the same.
Teaching your child to eat slower and more mindfully will help them identify easier when they are full. If your child is asking for a second snack or second helping at dinner, ask them to wait a few minutes for their food to digest before providing them with more food. This will allow them to identify whether they are still hungry or not.
Water should always be the drink of choice for young children. Whilst milk also plays an important role in providing a calcium source for young growing bodies, try and limit the amount of soft drink or juice being consumed. When your child is properly hydrated, they are less likely to mistaken thirst for hunger.
Choose wholesome foods as snacks
Most schools over the past few years have now introduced a fruit and veg break or crunch and sip, where children will continue doing their schoolwork whilst munching away in addition to the usual morning tea or recess break. Each school will have their own rules but generally all fresh fruit and vegetables are allowed and should be cut or peeled. Our favourite choices for this break are:
Make snacking easy
On weekends and during school holidays, prepare a platter with fresh fruit and vegetables, dip or mashed avocado and rice crackers. Set the platter within reach and at eye level and your kids can munch on this throughout the day and will not be rummaging through the pantry eating chips and lollies all day long.
Watch your portions
When preparing snacks, it is important that they are adequately portioned to ensure that they are not too filling and end up with your child either not eating their lunch or dinner or overeating. Snacks are also a great way to ensure children who do not eat enough at mealtimes are getting adequate amounts of nutritious food throughout the day.
Spending some time each week to prepare some healthy snacks will mean that quick and easy options are available for your kids to grab when they are hungry and wanting something to eat. It will also make preparing lunches on school mornings a breeze. Snacks that easy to prepare in bulk include:
Encourage a piece of fruit before offering a sweet treat. Whilst the occasional piece of chocolate or small dessert is totally fine, it is important to remember that these foods are an occasional treat and not everyday foods. Still including these foods is important so that your child does not feel deprived but should only be treated as occasional treats. Chopped berries with yoghurt or blended frozen banana make great healthy after dinner snack options. If you find that your child is constantly asking for food after dinner, perhaps look at increasing their food intake throughout the day, this could be through extra snacks or slightly larger lunch or dinner portions.
Our All Systems Go module explores the human body helping children to understand healthy fuel and why food and nutrition is so important in our lives.