Contrary to what your mother may have told you, there's nothing wrong with snacks for kids. The Dietitians of Canada insists that "snacking between meals is great for your kids!" Nutritionists agree that children are more likely to meet their dietary needs if they have two or three scheduled snacks a day, in addition to three meals. Most children don't eat enough at meals to provide them with the nutrients they need. If you satisfy nutrition requirements across the day, it eases the pressure on kids and parents during family meals. Besides, kids love to snack.
The key is to plan snacks as you plan meals. If you haven't prepared a wholesome snack, your child will grab a stack of chocolate cookies to fend off his hunger. There's no need to plan snacks for school recesses; once children hit grade one, they need recess for physical activity. But you will need to plan an after-school and a bedtime snack. When your kids are active on days off, a morning snack may also be needed.
Remember to maintain control. You probably don't ask your child what he wants for dinner. So don't ask your child what he wants for a snack. Offer something from the food groups whose recommendations aren't being met through the three meals of the day. Older kids will want to help themselves. Keep nutritious snacks where your older child can see them. If the taco chips are at eye level and the carrots are in a bag in the back of the crisper, guess what she'll snack on?
To quench thirst, serve the following:
• plain or flavoured milk
• yogurt beverages
• hot cocoa
• juicy fruits (watermelon, plums, peaches, oranges, cantaloupe)
• succulent vegetables like cucumber and cherry tomatoes
• vegetable juices
Page 1 of 2 – On page 2, discover easy-to-make, healthy snacks for your growing kids.
To satisfy hunger, try these foods:
• bread sticks
• half of a sandwich (cheese, egg, tuna, or peanut butter)
• cottage cheese
• devilled or hard-cooked eggs
• whole-grain muffins and cereals
• toast with honey
• fig bars and other fruit bars
• leftover pizza
• half a bagel spread with cheese or peanut butter
• raw vegetables (snow peas, celery, and sweet peppers)
• peanuts, pumpkin seeds, or sunflower seeds (check your child's school for an anaphylaxis policy first)
The truth about snacking and dental decay
Frequent snacking on sweets increases your child's risk of cavities. The Canadian Dental Association recommends that if you serve sweets, you serve them with meals. Increased saliva flow during meals helps neutralize the effects of sugar. Our saliva contains several cavity-protecting factors, including fluoride, calcium buffers, and antimicrobial agents.
Soft, sticky sweets such as raisins, fruit leathers, and granola bars may be nutritious, but they stick to the teeth. Fruit juices, even if unsweetened, also contain sugar. Since fruit juice pools around your child's teeth, it may also pose a risk for cavities. The CDA suggests limiting, or even eliminating, juice between meals.
If your child has a sweet snack, have him try a slice of Cheddar or mozzarella cheese to counteract some of the negative effects of sugar. Or give him a celery stick or apple. Because they help clean your teeth, these foods are sometimes called "detergent foods." And as your child has probably already pointed out, sugarless gum can help reduce dental decay. Of course, children can always rinse their mouths with water if there's nothing else available. Or you might try getting your kids in the habit of brushing their teeth after snacks as well as after meals.
Page 2 of 2 – On page 1 you'll find healthy drink selections to satsify a thirsty child.