Kids love snacking. Snack time is their favorite time and they want to enjoy their favorite cookies, chips or cupcake as a snack to satisfied their taste buds. Though these snacking options may sounds tempting and may satisfied your kid’s taste buds temporarily but from health and nutrition perspective, unhealthy snacking is a major cause of childhood obesity.
Unhealthy food choices and lack of physical activity are two major factor that causes increase in prevalence of “childhood obesity” at rapid rate.
According to research, the prevalence of obesity has become more than double among children age 2 to 5 year (5% to 12.4%) and age 6 to 11 year (6.5% to 17%). In teenagers, the prevalence rates have tripled (5 to 17.6%).
Though these statics are scary but as a responsible parent, we can help our kids to eat healthy and making smart choices to maintain an ideal weight as per their weight and height.
Why healthy snacking is important? How can we help our kids to make right snack choices? What are some easy to make and healthier snacking options for kids? Read the post to know more about it.
This post will be in two parts. The first part is about learning the basics of “Healthy snacking” and in second part, I will share some amazing healthy homemade snack ideas. So, make sure to read both posts to know all details.
Before talking more about “healthy snacking”, it is very important to understand important nutrients for kid’s growth and proper development.
Here are some essential nutrients that play a major role in proper growth and development of kids.
Important nutrients for proper growth and development of kids!
Protein is one of the most essential nutrients that helps in building muscles in kids. At growing age, it is very important that kids get enough protein through their meal. Some of the common sources of protein are pulses, cottage cheese (panner), milk, tofu (soya paneer) beans and lean meat. Adding enough protein helps in building muscular strength in kids. Protein also helps in growth, repair and maintenance of the body.
Carbohydrate is main source of energy. During growing age, it is very important that kids get enough carbohydrate for fueling up energy. Complex carbohydrate is healthier than simple carbohydrate. Complex carb helps in slow energy release and did not cause sudden sugar spike. Oats, barley and other whole grains are some of the good options of complex carbohydrate.
Though Starchy and sugar rich food are high in carbohydrate but they should be avoided as they did not offer any nutritional benefits for kid’s growth and development.
In general, fat may be considered as “Not so healthy” option but for growing kids, small amount of fat is one of the essential nutrients. Nuts, seeds, ghee (clarified butter), avocado are some of the important sources of healthy fat.
Calcium is another important essential nutrient for kids. It is essential for proper growth and development of teeth and bones. Calcium also helps in proper functioning of nerve and muscles. And keep our heart healthy too. Some good sources of calcium are milk, yogurt and cheese.
Iron is next important essential nutrient for carrying enough oxygen to different parts of body. Iron deficiency is one of the commonly observed deficiency in kids that results in “Iron deficiency anemia”. Some of the good sources of iron are green leafy vegetables (like spinach), beetroot, legumes, vitamin C rich foods and whole grain.
Vitamins (Vitamin A, Vitamin D, and Vitamin C and Vitamin B complex)
Vitamins are another essential nutrient that help in proper growth and development of different body parts. And also perform other important functions too. Vitamin A is needed for good eyesight and healthy skin and vitamin D is essential for proper bone and teeth development. Vitamin C helps in building immunity and vitamin B complex is essential for function of various important system of body.
Minerals are micro nutrients. They also essential for proper functioning of bones, muscles, brain and heart. Also, play an important role in making enzymes and hormones. Fruits, vegetables, milk and dairy products, nuts and whole grains are good sources of minerals.
“Nutrition” is one of the important aspects of growing age children. It is very important that kids get all “essential nutrients” in their routine diet, including both main meal and snacks.
Nowadays, many kids are picky eater and have deficiency of “essential nutrients” in their routine diet. This thing often creates a problem for parents to feed their kids healthy and Nutrional meal.
Tips for parents to set a “healthy snacking “routine for kids!
Here are some tips and guidelines for parents to make “Snack timing” as “healthy snack timing”.
Learn and teach “healthy shopping skills” to your kids
“Healthy shopping” is base for creating healthy eating atmosphere at home. Though, it is very tempting to buy various attractive looking readymade snack options while shopping but most of these snacks contain unhealthy ingredients and loaded with sugar too.
It is very important to shop healthy stuff (fruits, vegetables and whole grain products) to keep your pantry ready with healthier snack options. While shopping, talk to your kids about why shopping healthy stuff is important and how this “healthy shopping” will help them to eat healthy and making smart choices?
Read the label
This is second most important aspect of healthy shopping skill. Reading the labels help in knowing the nutritional value, calories, sugar addition and inclusion of all other essential nutrients. Try to go for “Low sugar” and “No sugar added” options. Ask your kids to read labels and teach them importance of reading the labels. Though do not trust on labels blindly. Many times, sugar free and cholesterol free claim products contain unhealthy ingredients in hidden form.
Pay attention on serving size
This is another important aspect that often get overlooked. Along with selecting right product, it is equally important to learn about the serving size. Eating right food in right proportion is one of the most important steps that could make major difference in your family’s everyday nutrition.
Involve your kids in cooking process
Kids learn fast, when we teach them something practically. Involving your kids in cooking is best way to teach them importance of healthy nutrition for our body. You can explore new healthy snack recipes online and can make it together as a “Family”. Making cooking process fun is a best way to add healthier ingredients in your family’s meal. With some training, kids can make their own simple snacks with no fire cooking method.
Keep healthy options (fruits, vegetables) handy
It has been said that “you eat, what you see”. In simple words, we tend to eat those food or snacks more that is easily visible and convenient to reach. so, put some efforts in that direction and try to keep healthy snacking options handy and easily approachable.
As an additional step, you can do a little pre-preparation during weekend. Cut the vegetables sticks and store them in an air-tight container in fridge and serve them with healthy dips like hummus during busy weekdays.
Keeping healthy options handy work great in improving your family’s healthy eating habits and helps in boosting specific type of food in your daily diet.
Be creative and make food visually appealing
This is another good way to make snack time much healthier. You can try easy food art with fruits and vegetables with your kids. Kids love food art and will eat fruits and vegetables more with this creative technique.
Additionally, you can use beautiful shaped cookie cutters (heart or star shaped) to make healthy cookies and whole grain cracker at home. these simple changes make food visually attractive and kids will eat them by making it their own choices.
So, with these tips I am ending the first part of post “A smart mom’s guide to healthy snacking for kids”. In second part, I am sharing many amazing homemade healthy snack options for kids? Stay tuned, I am sure this post will help in making smart and right snack choices for your family.
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