Despite what you may think, I’m not a ‘hard arse’ mother when it comes to what my kids eat.
Sure, there are times and places for treats but I’ve found consistency prevails and is my best friend in establishing healthy eating habits. Not only am considering what they are eating today but setting the foundations for their habits in years to come. Having a healthy relationship with food through removing ‘good’ and ‘bad’ labels and replacing them with ‘often’ and ‘sometimes’ is hopefully moving in the right direction.
We talk about why I choose not to regularly buy foods that are high in sugars and trans fats and why we prefer to make our own healthier versions. Education is key for the kids to make sensible decisions on their own, with the understanding of what a healthy day of eating looks like. We have some days that are better than others but I keep reminding myself that as long as we are 80% on track the 20% is taken in our stride.
Unlike adults, kids need their energy levels topped up regularly because they are so damn active and growing each millisecond. Enter the role of healthy snacks.
Snacks are seen to be something quick that we can just chuck in our bags or have on call when the time strikes but do you know what is really in them? I try to keep away from the prepackaged, processed type not only because they usually don’t have many nutrients but also because of the overuse of packaging that just adds up to landfill end.
Kids taste buds can become so groomed to snacks that are sweet. It’s difficult to choose a product on face value, with so many loopholes allowing companies to ride on claims that they are ‘natural’ or ‘organic’. These terms mean nothing if they are stuffed full of sugar and vegetable oils.
The most important tool you can learn is how to read labels on the side of packets. This is your best guide.
How to choose the best kids snack foods
This table is a good guide of what to look for in kids snack items (handy also to take a photo and keep on your phone for reference)
*remember you are looking at per 100gm here so don’t get caught looking at per serve on your food item.
As you can see anything under 3gm fat (paying more attention to saturated fats), 5gm sugar and 120gm sodium, is considered the best option.
In regards to drinks, water is always best but if you must, water down the juice. Keep softies to a occasions.
Fibre is a must for kids to help their food moving through their bowels and stop constipation and ‘sore tummy’s’ that they may complain of. Looking at the table above, anything over 6 gms is excellent (but sometimes hard to find) so aim for between 3-6gms.
Have you ever wondered how the snacks you buy for your children stack up? I found this link as a guide on the Choice website that rates most of the packaged snack foods. Please don’t read too much into the star ratings though as this is a flawed system and fraught with inconsistency.
They say it takes up to 20 tastes of a certain food before our kids take to it, so keep this in mind when offering that fruit, vegetable or dinner that they have previously refused…it will click one day.
So, snacks have their place for the times we are caught short and unable to make our own. The key is knowing the right ones to buy.