By Kelsey Childs, clinical dietitian at CHOC
Does it seem like your children are snacking all the time? Do you find yourself snacking more during the pandemic as you work from home during COVID-19? You are not alone. With families spending more time than ever at home during the pandemic, many people have noticed an uptick in snacking.
Snacks aren’t always a bad thing
Snacks play an important role in the diets of growing children. Snacks provide energy to sustain children between mealtimes. According to research, snacks may provide around 30% of a child’s daily caloric intake. In general, children should consume three meals per day and up to two or three snacks per day. However, if children are consuming more than three snacks per day, or if they are snacking multiple times between meals, this can lead to reduced appetite and intake at mealtimes.
Many snack foods advertised toward children are high in sugar and low in fiber and protein. Without fiber and protein, these snacks may not keep children full and satisfied until the next mealtime, which can lead to even more snacking.
If you’re looking for new ideas for healthy snacks that are great options for the whole family, here are some important health benefits to keep in mind and my favorite healthy snack ideas. And if you’re looking to get kids involved in the kitchen, here’s some tips.
Look for snacks that are good sources of protein, including:
- Greek yogurt
- Nuts or nut butter (peanut butter, almond butter, sunflower seed butter, etc.)
- Turkey or ham slices
It’s also important to offer snacks that are great sources of fiber, including:
- Fruits —apples, bananas, berries, pineapple, peaches, pears, oranges, grapes, melon, etc.
- Vegetables —carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, broccoli, zucchini, celery, etc.
- Whole grains —whole-wheat bread, whole grain crackers, whole grain cereal, etc.
To provide a healthy, satisfying snack, aim to include a source of protein and fiber at each snack opportunity. Below are healthy snack ideas that are rich in protein and fiber:
- Veggie sticks with hummus
- Whole wheat pita bread slices with hummus
- Banana topped with nut butter
- Greek yogurt served with fruit
- Cottage cheese topped with fruit or tomato slices
- String cheese and strawberries
- Apple slices served with a hard-boiled egg or a small handful of nuts
- Cooked egg with a side of fruit
- Whole grain crackers topped with turkey slices
- Smoothie made from Greek yogurt, milk, frozen fruit and spinach leaves
For more on CHOC’s clinical nutrition program