Snacks: we all know and love them. The important thing is snacking the right way! Below are 3 ways to make sure you are promoting healthy snacking habits for your children.
Avoid using snacks as a distraction method
We’ve all done it, handing over a snack when we are running errands or on a long drive to keep our children occupied. However, providing snacks when a child isn’t hungry can make it difficult for them to identify internal signals of hunger and fullness. Using snacks to occupy a child can also lead to a bad habit: snacking out of boredom. Before you reach for the snacks, try another distraction. Try a book, small toy or even a favorite song, these will buy you time and hopefully help you to avoid distraction snacking.
Avoid snacking for at least 1 hour before a meal
Snacks before a mealtime can spoil a child’s appetite and make them less receptive to trying new foods at meals. This is especially important for toddlers who may learn to prefer snack foods like pretzels and gummy fruit snacks over meal foods. A strong preference for “snack foods” can raise the risk of obesity in the long run. If your child needs something to munch on before a meal, reach for fruits and veggies.
Make sure you’re picking the right snacks
Snacking is actually a good habit, it promotes energy and blood sugar maintenance throughout the day. Ideally, snacks should be presented as mini meals. These mini meals should include fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains (like whole-wheat tortillas or bread), sources of protein (like hard-boiled eggs and hummus) and dairy foods (such as yogurt and cheese). Any “Treat” foods should be reserved for special occasions. “Treat” foods are anything made with sugar and refined flour like cakes, cookies, and candy.