Without question, snacks are a necessary part of a child’s diet. A rapidly growing body requires extra energy that mealtimes alone cannot offer, which is where in-between-meal snacks fill the gap. However, what we need to be aware of is the word ‘snacking’ can sometimes be mistaken for eating foods that are low in nutritional value and high in excess sugar and fat.
Children can be finicky eaters, so it makes more sense to ensure when they do eat that it is in the form of nutrient-dense food choices. Highly processed foods tend to crowd out room for healthy choices and leave tastebuds craving similar tastes and textures. Portion sizes are also another issue to consider with snacking only meant to take the edge of a child’s hunger not ‘fill them up to the point where they will not eat their upcoming main meal.
Young children do best on three meals and two snacks a day and should be part of a daily routine rather than being offered as rewards or treats. Fruits and vegetables should be prioritised over-packaged snacks and enjoyed in a relaxed manner, even if only if that means a couple of minutes!
Snack times are the perfect window for trying new tastes and textures, away from traditional mealtimes where a lot is going on – children can feel less pressure when in different eating environments, so try matching veggie sticks and dip with a trip to the playground or a healthy muesli cookie after swimming lessons. Happy experiences will encourage your child to be more open to trying new foods and vice versa.
It can be hard to find healthy quick snacks to have on the go and you don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen.
Store-bought options could include
Rice Crackers with hummus dip
Natural cheese sticks with vegetables
Rice Cakes with melted cheese
Oaty Apple Pie Energy Bombs
Once hunger hits it’s super tempting to reach for processed convenience foods. You can help override the junk food wagon by making your own simple and healthy snacks. These energy bombs only have 5 ingredients and take 5 minutes to make!
1 cup dried apple
½ cup dried seedless dates
½ cup oats
½ tsp cinnamon
3 tablespoons chia seeds
How to make
Place all ingredients in a food processor. Progressively build speed until ingredients begin to form a thick paste.
With a tablespoon amount roll ingredients into ball shapes between palms of the hand and place on a tray. As an option, you can also roll in the almond meal or shredded coconut to finish.
Place in fridge to set for 1 hour.