Nutrition experts agree that snacks are an important component of children's diets, and that healthy snacks contribute significantly to vitamin, mineral, and fiber intake. To make sure that your children are enjoying healthy snacks instead of simply adding unnecessary calories, try these snack swap ideas:
Keep fresh fruit on hand for a quick sweet snack instead of candy or cookies. Cut up an apple, peel and section an orange, or offer a bowl of grapes or cherries.
Popcorn is a minimally processed whole grain, providing fiber and antioxidants. Look for plain, low-fat microwave popcorn for a quick, crunchy snack.
Offer yogurt instead of ice cream for more calcium and protein with less sugar and fat. Read yogurt labels carefully, and choose brands with less added sugar.
Pour a glass of fat-free milk instead of soda or a sugary beverage. Water truly is the best thirst-quencher, and encouraging our kids to drink water is a top national health priority.
Make your own snacks to cut down on processed foods: spread natural peanut butter on whole grain crackers, or make your own trail mix with whole grain cereal, unsalted nuts, and dried fruit.
Parents can feel good about providing great-tasting and healthy snacks for our children. You might even enjoy these snacks yourself!
Lynn Grieger, RD, CDE, cPT is a health, food and fitness coach in Manchester and online at www.LynnGrieger.com. A favorite snack is almonds and a sliced apple.