Pound for pound, kids have higher energy, vitamin and mineral needs than adults to promote healthy growth and development. Running around the playground at school, riding bikes, playing sports, and climbing trees increases their energy needs even more.

Carbohydrates from whole grains, fruits, vegetables and dairy foods provide energy to fuel active kids. These foods are also excellent sources of vitamins and minerals for overall good health. Foods that are high in sugar or fat, such as sweetened beverages like soda, fruit drinks, or Kool-Aid; candy, cookies, chips and fried foods contain calories with minimum nutritional value and can contribute to being overweight or obesity.

Savvy parents offer nutrient-dense foods that are low in added sugar and fat, yet packed with nutrition while minimizing the frequency and amount of snack and junk foods. Try these four tips to fuel your children's growth, after-school activity, and fun.

Start with a healthy breakfast that contains whole grain cereal or bread, fresh or canned fruit in its own juice, and fat-free milk or yogurt. Eggs, peanut butter, and low-fat cheese or cottage cheese provide protein necessary for growing bodies.

Offer high-energy after-school snacks such as whole grain crackers with low-fat cheese or peanut butter, trail mix made with nuts, whole grain cereal and dried fruit; fruit with fat-free yogurt, raw vegetables with hummus, or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.


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On-the-go supper is often a fact of life for busy families. Pack a cooler with sandwiches made with whole grain bread, raw vegetables, yogurt and fruit. Or use a crock-pot to prepare a balanced dinner that's ready whenever you have time to eat.

Bedtime snacking may be more of a habit than a necessity, especially if the evening meal is delayed due to sports or other after school activities. Offer yogurt, fruit, or whole grain cereal with fat-free milk for a good-tasting snack that provides essential nutrition to help your children thrive.

Lynn Grieger, RD, CDE, cPT is a health, food and fitness coach in Manchester and online at www.LynnGrieger.com. A favorite breakfast is whole grain waffles topped with a mixture of fruit and yogurt.