The key to whether snacking is good or bad for you is which snacks you choose, and how much of them you eat. In fact, if you choose carefully and plan ahead, snacks can be a healthy part of your diet.
Snacks provide energy for your child's activities though the day and they can provide valuable nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, protein and fibre. They may also stop your child overeating at the next meal by preventing them from becoming too hungry.
On the downside, some snack foods can be a source of extra fat, sugar and salt, so choose carefully and keep portion sizes sensible.
Focus on the food groups
Choose snacks from the four main food groups –
1. Vegetables and fruits
Try fresh or tinned fruit (on kebab sticks or as a fruit salad if you have time)
Try chopped carrots or sugar snap peas and dip like hummus or cream cheese
Try corn on the cob
2. Bread, rice, potatoes, pasta and other cereals
Try 1/2 a sandwich with some peanut butter or cheese
Try a small bowl of breakfast cereal
Try some savory crackers (the less salt the better) and cheese
Try some popcorn
3. Meat and meat alternatives
Try tuna mayo
Try a chicken drumstick or meat sosatie
Try a boiled egg
4. Milk and Dairy foods
Try a small pot of yoghurt
Try a fruit smoothie made with dairy like yoghurt or milk
Try a small block of cheese / soft cheese wedges
Think about any food groups they may not be eating enough of, and try to add some in as snacks.
What about crisps, chocolates and sweets?
It’s fine to have a small amount of these foods; the important thing is to get the overall balance right. Twice a week is reasonable
‘Snack attack’ strategies
Often it’s not just a matter of knowing what choices are better choices – If you’re really hungry and there are no healthy snacks around, it’s very easy to eat something unhealthy instead. Make nutritious snacking easier with the following strategies:
• On the go – if you’re going to be out and about, take a healthy snack in your bag. An apple, rice cakes or a small bag of nuts or raisins are very portable.
• In the shops – try to avoid buying less nutritious snacks such as crisps and biscuits, so you don’t have them tempting you while at home.
• At home – have a bowl of fruit on display on the kitchen counter and reduced-fat yogurts in the front of the fridge, so you notice the healthy options. Keep less healthy treats out of sight.
So with just a little forward planning, it’s easy to make your snacks a healthy and valuable part of your diet:)