Snacking has gotten a bad rap lately. So, bags of chips, candy, cookies, and processed snacks may play a part in the nation’s childhood obesity problem, but keep in mind that snacking is not bad. Preschool aged children need two snacks a day to fuel their bodies and boost their nutrition. For younger children, snacks can help prevent cranky hunger outburst, and for older children, it can help prevent them from overeating at mealtimes. However, what you offer at snack-time and when you offer it matters. Offering unhealthy snack items all of the time will ultimately affect your child(ren)’s food preferences and can increase their chance of becoming obese now or later in life. Also, children who graze all day long have a difficult time figuring out their hunger cues which is really important to maintaining a healthy weight throughout their lifetime.
As a mom, I know how stressful snack-time can be, but I have some simple tips for you on how to effectively handle snack-time at home.
· Create snack drawers—let your child(ren) know that they can choose a snack from either drawer but only at their designated snack time. Offering your child a choice helps establish their independence.
· In the refrigerator, place food items like hard-boiled eggs, string cheese, fresh fruit, carrots, and yogurt in an easily accessible drawer.
· In the pantry or kitchen, place applesauce, whole grain crackers, and nutritious bars or snack packs in an easily accessible spot..
· Make your preschooler a part of the action! Kids this age feel important when adults let them help out. Let them do what they safely can to prepare their own snacks.
· Keep mostly healthy foods in the house. Try to keep food items high in calories, fat, and added sugar at a minimum. Remember that this doesn’t mean that kids can never have these food items, but they should only be offered every once in a while.
· Set specific snack-times (Have one between breakfast and lunch and another between lunch and dinner)
· This will help kids manage their hunger better because they will know when to expect to eat.
· Serve skim or low-fat milk or water. Limit 100% juice to one serving per day.
· Keep an eye on how your child’s moods affect eating patterns. Preschoolers often confuse boredom or fatigue with hunger. If your child just ate and is complaining of hunger again, see if a change of scenery or some active play could do the trick.
|Pick 2 Snacks Chart|
|4 oz. Milk||½ oz. Deli meat/lean meat||½ c. vegetable||½ c. fruit||Whole grain crackers|
|½ hard-boiled egg||½ serving whole grain bread/tortilla/muffin|
|½ oz. cheese||½ cup cereal|
|¼ c. yogurt|