Healthy Snacks for Kids
I’m pretty sure I’m not the only mom who obsesses about her children getting a balanced healthy diet, while hiding in the cabinet eating an entire sleeve of Oreos.
Feeding kids healthy meals is one thing, but what about snacks? They need to be quick and easy for you, and something children enjoy. Unfortunately, quick and easy often means prepackaged and processed, which is definitely something most moms want to avoid. What can we offer instead and how do we make healthy snacking the norm in our houses?
Make it easy
If giving our kids healthy snacks is going to be time consuming,
we are less likely to do it, so it’s important to pick snacks that are easy for
you. Try clementines. Kids eat them like candy, have fun peeling them and they are nutritious too! Keeping apples and carrot sticks handy make a quick and healthy snack as well. Pair whole grain crackers with simple topping like cheese or hummus.
Consider prepackaging snacks at the beginning of the week to make them easily accessible.
If they are hungry, they will eat it.
Whining for fruit snacks instead of raisins? If they're hungry, they will eat it!
Give them options.
Along with the “if they are hungry they will eat it” motto, we have found that it is important to give our kids options. Sometimes, it is “an apple or nothing” just because that’s all I can offer at the time, but usually when my kids are hungry I have a couple of choices for them. “Do you want a granola bar, some grapes, or some crackers?” Letting them choose from options that I have already pre approved gives me the absolute control I need to help guide them into good eating habits, but it also gives them control over what they choose to put in their bodies. I feel that allowing them options will help them learn to make good choices on their own.
Make it fun
Celery certainly isn’t my kids’s favorite snack, but when I add a little container of ranch dressing or spruce it up with some nut butter and raisins to make “ants on a log,” it becomes the most exciting snack ever! Make homemade “lunchables" with mix and match items like peanut butter, crackers, apples, cheese, and even a couple of slices of meat. Kids love sandwiching together different combinations of those options and creating things themselves. If you're using the same old snack options all week, make one snack fun by making a face with raisin eyes and a fruit slice for a mouth. It can make ordinary snacking more fun.
Don’t keep the junk in the house.
If you don’t want your children eating junk food, then don’t have it in the house. If it’s there, they’ll want it. (If it’s there, you will want it!) “Sorry, we don’t have any” is a much easier argument to win than, “Sorry, I’m not giving you any.”
Avoid lots of sugar.
When kids have lots of sugar, the healthy food doesn’t taste so good to them anymore.
Make it a habit.
If your children are accustomed to junk food, they will want junk food. If they’re accustomed to fruits and vegetables, they will want fruits and vegetables. Try to keep fresh produce, whole grains, and dried fruit and nuts around all the time. Eating well as a habit when they are young will help them to make healthy choices on their own one day.
Eat good food yourself
Since kids almost always want what their parents are eating, they’re stealing good food off my plate now which means that they’re developing a taste for it and they will be more likely to eat it on their own.
Be occasionally lenient
Don’t completely ban the junk food - it only makes the kids want it more. Allow it in small, controlled doses every once in awhile. Chocolate chips or candies make a great addition to an otherwise healthy trail mix. Occasionally, let them eat as much as they want and decide for themselves when enough is enough.
Some of our favorite snacks:
Here are some easy, healthy, and often inexpensive snacks for kids:
- Granola bars (check the labels as these often have lots of added sugar)
- Yogurt (flavored yogurts can be loaded with sugar so read the labels)
- Fresh veggies (try broccoli "trees")
- Whole grain crackers
- Cheese sticks and cheese cubes
- Dried bananas
- Trail mix
- Fresh fruit
- Apple sauce with no sugar added
- Popped corn—not prepackaged or microwaveable, just the kernels which are inexpensive, have no added ingredients, and pop easily in a little bit of butter or olive oil in a saucepan on your stove top.
- Homemade popsicles
- Nut butters (peanut, cashew, almonds)
- Hard boiled eggs
Do you have a favorite, healthy snack for in-between meal times? Leave a comment and let us know! We can all use a little more variety.