Young and old, people get the munchies in between meals. These days, snacking and snacks have had a bad reputation for being unhealthy, too sugary or junk-filled. But by being conscious about what your child snacks on, snacks can be a great source of nutrients too.
“Kids, especially younger ones, have erratic eating habits, and healthy snacks can fill in nutrition gaps,” Maryann Jacobsen, RD, told WebMD. Plus, they’re great quick refuelers for when your child’s energy is running low like in between breakfast and lunch or in the afternoon after coming home from school.
Snacks don’t just have to be fruits and veggies to be healthy either. Here are 5 other snacks your child will love.
1. Popcorn Popcorn may not feel like a healthy snack since it’s usually lumped with chips and candies at the move theaters but it actually is; that is when you don’t buy it from the theaters. Movie theater popcorn may be too greasy or salty to be considered “healthy” but fat-free or low-fat microwave popcorn can be a great snack.
That’s because popcorn is a whole grain just like whole-wheat bread, oatmeal and quinoa. Whole grains are sources of dietary fibers that are great for good digestion. Whole grains will also keep your child feeling fuller for longer so it's also a great school snack. Plain popcorn may be too bland for kids. Sprinkle bits of cheese to make it more fun.
2. Cheese If your child is reaching for a bag of chips for snack time, hand him a slice of cheese instead. Good quality cheese is a great source of protein and calcium. Protein builds, maintains and replaces tissues in the body. Plus, it takes longer to break down so it will keep your child feeling fuller for longer. And calcium, as you may already know, is great for growing bones.
Cheese is already delicious by itself but it’s also great on crackers or wheat bread. Go for low-fat or fat-free cheese if you’re worried about the saturated fat.
3. Yogurt Not all sweet things are bad for you. In place of chocolate covered biscuits, go for a cup of yogurt instead. First off, yogurt is made of milk and so it’s a good source of protein. Protein that, once again, will keep your child’s hunger satiated until meal time. Not only that, yogurt has probiotics, also known as “friendly bacteria” that’s good for the digestive system.
There is a variety of yogurts to choose from in supermarket counters these days and they’re becoming fairly cheap too. Nutritionists consider Greek yogurt as the healthiest but low-fat strawberry yogurt is good too, not to mention delicious!
4. Cereal When you hear someone say “kid’s cereal” you think of ultra-sweet, ultra-colorful, milk color-changing popping breakfasts. Sugary sweet cereal is obviously not good, but it’s a different story for whole-grain cereal. Cereal can actually be pretty healthy, believe it or not. Whole-grain cereal, just like popcorn, is a great source of dietary fiber; good for digestive health and making kids feel full.
The good thing about cereal is that it’s easy to take around. Fill a small container or resealable sandwich bag with cereal and take it along to your child’s next playdate for an instant healthy snack on-the-go. It will also keep your child occupied while you wait in line at the cashier. Mix in raisins and nuts for a more delectable treat.
5. Eggs When we think of snacks eggs don’t usually come to mind. We should though as they are a great source of protein. They’re also easy to cook, eat and cheap. What more can you ask for? If you’re thinking of cholesterol content, the American Health Heart Association, says an egg a day is a-okay.
Boiled, not fried, eggs are a great way to go. It’s important to remember to cook eggs thoroughly until everything is solid and nothing is runny. Now, go get your snack on!
Sources: January 27, 2016. "Eggs and Child Nutrition" (pediatrics.about.com) December 7, 2015. "Healthy Snacks for Kids: 27 Toddler-Friendly Ideas" (whattoexpect.com) January 28, 2013. "19 Healthy Snacks for Kids" (webmd.com) Undated. "Whole Grains and Fiber" (heart.org)