Lee-Ann M. Lacanilao, RND, clinical dietitian at the Weight Wellness Center of the Makati Medical Center, shares her expert knowledge on kids’ snacks and health.
Q: Why do children, especially in the age range of 4 to 6 years, get hungry at different points of the day? A: Children go through ‘growth spurts’ that can be quite dramatic, perhaps several centimeters (of growth) in only a month or two, and during these times, they’re likely to need lots of energy coming from their food. Children are also very energetic, and this results to the burning of more calories compared to an adult. Remember, a child may not manage to eat large meals, so he tends to eat in small amounts for several times a day. Just make sure that a child who claims to be hungry all the time eats three complete and balanced meals per day.
On the other hand, if a child habitually eats for reasons other than hunger, this could be the start of an eating disorder. If parents suspect that this could be happening, it is essential to seek professional help.
Q: How do I know that something is considered a healthy snack? A: A healthy snack is a light meal that is low in fat and sugar and is worth around 200 calories. Always check the label.
Q: Conversely, how do I know that what I’m giving my kids in unhealthy? A: Check for sugar and fat content. The sugar rush produced by sweets and chocolate bars tend to be addictive and may have bad effects on children’s teeth. As for beverages, know that one serving of sugar is equal to one teaspoon (actual sugar granules), which is five grams, so if a particular drink contains 25 grams of sugar, that’s equal to five teaspoons of (granulated) sugar. If kids are given these snacks, they are risking their long-term health, and they may put on too much weight and end up being overweight or obese.
Having said this, here are easy-to-prepare snack recipes for your little ones that are healthy but don’t lose out on taste.
1. BANANA ROLL. Peel a banana and dip it in plain yogurt. Roll in crushed cereal and freeze. 2. HEALTHY NIBBLES. Mix together ready-to-eat cereal, dried fruit and nuts in a sandwich bag for an on-the-go snack. 3. ESKIMO PIE. Smear a scoop of frozen yogurt on two graham crackers and add sliced banana to make a yummy sandwich. 4. FRUIT AND YOGURT. Top low-fat vanilla yogurt with blueberries or your choice of fruit. 5. BAKED POTATO. Microwave a small potato cut open in half. Top with reduced-fat cheddar cheese and salsa. 6. TOAST WITH A TWIST. Toast a whole grain waffle and top with low-fat yogurt and sliced peaches. 7. PB & A. Spread sugar-free peanut butter on apple slices. 8. SMOOTH IT OUT. Blend low-fat milk, frozen strawberries and a banana for thirty seconds for a delicious smoothie. 9. MINI MUNCHIES. Make a mini-sandwich with tuna or egg salad on whole wheat bread. 10. PEANUT BUTTER BALLS. Mix together sugar-free peanut butter and cornflakes in a bowl. Shape into balls and roll in crushed graham crackers.