To Snack or Not to Snack
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Ban snacks right before meals
This includes beverages like smoothies and sodas. Little tummies fill up fast, and lots of liquid right before a meal will shut off their hunger.
Slow it down
Of course, there are many days when snacks will be served in the car and on the go, but when possible, try to sit the kids down at a table and treat snack time as a proper meal (with no TV!). Research has shown that children who eat in front of the television eat more calories. It’s never too early to teach them good
Set the bar high
The most obvious tip to snacking wisely is to provide snacks that are nutritious and beneficial to growing bodies. Just because we are eating in between meals doesn’t mean we should reach for the chips and cookies. Again, we are teaching kids how to eat for life—the earlier they learn these simple lessons, the healthier they will be, now and in the future.
With that in mind, here are some nutritious snack ideas:
• High-protein snack foods: yogurt, cottage cheese, string cheese, cubed tofu, hard-boiled eggs, nuts or nut butters (if your little one is allergic to nuts, try sunflower seed butter or soy butter), sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, tuna (but keep their weekly intake low because of the mercury levels in this fish), kidney beans, black beans, turkey, chicken, hummus
• High-quality carbohydrate snacks: dried fruit, apple or banana chips, fruit smoothies, black olives, low-sugar granola or cereals, trail mix, sliced fresh fruit, popcorn (not for tiny kids—it’s a choking hazard), vegetables with dip, apple butter on whole grain bread, honey-banana sandwiches (with peanut butter if possible), frozen grapes or blueberries
It can sound like a lot of work to change your family’s snack habits, but it will be worth it in the end. Kids and adults will benefit from having healthier food in the house.
Julie Negrin, M.S., is a certified nutritionist, cooking instructor, and author of “Easy Meals to Cook with Kids.” She has been teaching children how to cook for 14 years and spent five years as the director of culinary arts at the JCC in Manhattan. She has appeared on “Sesame Street,” “CBS Nightly News with Katie Couric,” and the “Today Show with Al Roker.” The above article was excerpted from her “My Kitchen Nutrition” blog at www.julienegrin.com.