All of us at 24/7 Pediatric Care Centers realize that snacks can have a significant impact in children’s diets. Snacks can be a positive or negative contribution to your child’s nutritional balance. Whether your child is one who looks forward to healthy meals or one who saves his enthusiasm only for snacks, you can make the most of snack times with some of these tips and tricks.
- Avoid prepackaged, processed snacks. These foods, while often popular with children, tend to have more salt and sugar than recommended without delivering nutrients that support growth and development.
- Pair up foods for greater snack appeal. Instead of offering just grapes for snack, try pairing them with cheese, carrot sticks with hummus, peanut butter with whole wheat breads or crackers.
- Tempt children to eat healthy snacks through interesting colors and shapes. Offer brightly colored fruits and vegetables – berries, fresh green beans, cucumber rings, carrot sticks, apple and pear slices with colorful skins, tangerine segments, or broccoli florets, to name a few.
- Offer snack trade-offs to give children more say in their preferences for texture and ease of eating – applesauce instead of apple slices, crackers instead of bread, flavored milk instead of regular milk, for example.
- Involve your children in appreciation of foods. Take them for field trips to a farm or farmer’s markets to experience the wide array of healthy foods available to them and the people involved in producing them.
It’s not always easy to enforce a diet completely free of processed foods. Adding a little of their favorites mixed in with more nutritious choices can make snack time more fun. Don’t be afraid to add a few chocolate chips, nuts or soy nuts, pretzels, or graham crackers along with fruits, vegetables and healthy dairy to your children’s snack options.
We’re always happy to discuss children’s diets during their routine check-ups. Be sure to bring up your concerns or ask for helpful dietary tips whenever you visit with us at 24/7 Pediatric Care Centers!