Five Healthy Snacking Tips For Kids (And Adults)
1. Snack Seasonally
God designed fruits and vegetables to be available for us during certain seasons to give us our best health. Spring greens, peas, early berries and roots are available in the early springtime to aid as a tonic and digestive from the heavier meals of winter. Soft and sweet fruits and vegetables, like peaches, plums, melons and zucchini are full of natural sugars and water to replenish our electrolytes and give us easily digestible energy in the heat of summer, while winter squash, potatoes, apples, carrots and cabbage give us more starchy carbs for warmth in the cold months, provide the vitamins that we need and store well for the winter. Enjoy grapes in September, apples in October and strawberries in June. While at the the store or farmer’s market, help your children choose fruits and vegetables to eat this week. Give them ownership about their healthy choices. Talk about seasonality with your kids and explain to them that if they wait till food is in season, it will taste better and will be more nutritious for their growing body, making them, in the words of my four year old son, “Super Strong!”
2. Snack for Energy
A balance of carbohydrates, fat and protein is a perfect combination for growing children and their energy needs. Think apples with almond butter, cheese and whole grain crackers, carrots and snap peas with hummus, a slice of homemade bread with egg salad, plain yogurt with granola, or even simply a handful of trail mix.
3. Limit Sugar
Natural sugars, such as those found in a whole piece of fruit, are fine as the fruit is full of fiber to help digest the sugar, but simple sugars like those found in juice, sweetened yogurt, or baked into muffins aren’t absorbed as well in young, growing bodies. If you must add sugar to a food, choose a natural, unprocessed sweetener like raw, local honey, rather than a super processed one like white sugar. A little bit of something sweet is fine once in a while, but enjoying sweet things daily, even several times a day, isn’t good for proper growth and development.
4. Avoid Processed Foods
Kids don’t need frozen chicken nuggets, pizza rolls, macaroni and cheese and lunchables to be happy, these are marketing ploys designed by companies to make a profit. They are made in an undisclosed factory by unknown people with questionable ingredients and are designed to sit in a truck, then on a shelf, then in your pantry or freezer until you are ready to eat them, sometimes months or years later. They are as far away from God-made foods as you can get. Yes, our kids think they like them, but I give you permission to just say no. Highly processed foods are loaded with unhealthy chemicals, artificial dyes, flavors, sweeteners and preservatives and synthetic fats, all of which can have serious harmful effects on your child’s growth mentally, neurologically and physically.
5. Time your Snacking Wisely
Say it with me: a snack is not a meal. Too much snacking becomes a habit, not a hunger. I enjoy planning and cooking healthy, balanced meals, but if I allow my kids to snack too much, they don’t end up eating much at supper. Children who snack two to three times a day do not eat as much at meals. Try to limit snacking to once a day, in the afternoon, at least three hours after lunch ends and two hours before supper begins. Make sure it’s enough to tide them over and give them energy to play throughout the afternoon, but leaves them with an appetite for supper.
I know, sometimes it still seems like too much work to plan and eat real food. When I’m tired, when I’m going as fast as I can and avoiding all eyes as I push a grocery cart with a screaming, teething toddler in the seat, when I trip over toys and step on a Lego on the way to the kitchen to prepare prepare dinner for my family, I give it up and pray,
Lord, bless my work and guide me with grace.
Don’t forget His healing words
Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. Proverbs 16:3
Sarah Warren is a mother of three, two boys and one girl, writes at heartland Renaissance (link tohttp://heartlandrenaissance.