Parents are much concerned about the eating habits of their children, but it is essential to understand how we can develop healthy eating habits. Parents are role models, and children follow whatever their parents are doing. So, you can introduce them to a various foods from time to time until they start showing acceptance.
Healthy eating plays an essential role in the growth and development of your child. Children usually consume three large meals and two snacks in a day. Now, the question arises; what are healthy snacking options, and how can you develop this habit?
What is snacking?
Food consumed in between large meals is named snacking. A variety of snacks are present, depends on the person’s choice. Packaged, ready-to-eat and processed snacks are widely consumed but always focus on healthier options.
Parents often complain that their children don’t eat enough in one sitting. In such situations, nutritious snacks play a significant role. Snacks provide energy to carry out routine activities and don’t make you feel hungry.
How to develop a healthy snacking a habit?
Children are dependent on their parents for food. So, if you offer them healthier options from the beginning, they will develop the habit of healthy snacks. Some tips are mentioned below;
- The portion sizes of the children are not the same as ours. Toddlers consume about one-quarter of the size of an adult meal portion. So, offer them food as per the requirement of their portion size.
- Introduce new foods to children, one at a time. Never force them to eat it at once. Keep trying till they accept a new food.
- Food choices somehow depend on food availability. Try not to store chips, juices, and sweets in the range of children.
- Never use food as a bribe; it creates a negative impact on the eating habit of a child.
Proper quantity of a snack
Manage the portion size of your snack so it doesn’t impact your appetite for a meal. Snacks are relatively less fulfilling and lower in calories than a whole meal. Generally, the calories for a snack must be between 150 to 250 calories.
An apple with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, a handful of nuts, baked potato, and ½ sweet corn fits under 300 calories. The aim is to satisfy your hunger for the time being.
5 snacks your healthy children should avoid eating
Busy parents seek more accessible options for food for themselves and their children due to their long work shifts. But always go for the healthier option. Here are 5 unhealthy snacks children should avoid eating;
1. Fruit snacks
The name gives an impression of something healthy and nutritious, but fruit snacks have negligible nutritional value. A fruit snack includes fruit cakes, fruit rolls, etc., that are artificially flavored with high sugar content and trans fats. Instead of readymade fruit snacks, prepare them at home without sugar.
2. Deli meat sandwiches
Parents go for deli meat sandwiches for school lunchboxes without paying any attention to the nutritional facts of the deli meat. You are sure about the authenticity of the meat used in a deli. Such meat is highly processed with high salt content and unhealthy fats. You can roast or grill chicken or roast for your sandwiches. Use whole wheat bread instead of white bread as a healthier option.
3. Juices and energy drinks
Juices and energy drinks contain high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavors. Always read the label for a clear idea of the ingredients. You must find extremely high sugar percentages in these products
that later cause health problems like tooth decay. In case you want to consume fruit juice, prepare it naturally at home.
4. Granola or snack bars
Marketing companies portray granola bars as a healthy snack option but even having healthy ingredients doesn’t make it a healthy product due to chemicals, preservatives, and food colors that are not healthy. It is always good to opt for natural snacks like bit-sized fruits etc.
5. Potato chips
Potato chips are the most common snack used worldwide. The nutritional value of potato chips is overestimated, but it is exceptionally high in sodium and processed fats. Consuming such foods can cause obesity and, in a longer affect your heart health.
Any food that has high sugar, sodium, preservatives, food colors, chemicals, trans fats and other unhealthy ingredients is not safe for regular consumption. You can eat these type foods once or twice a month. Otherwise it can cause childhood obesity which increases chances of diabetes, hormonal problems and cardiovascular diseases. It is better to develop healthy eating habits for good physical and mental health.
Healthy snack options
Instead of consuming packaged snacks, look for homemade healthier snack options for your children. Some of the ideas are as follows;
✔ Yogurt with fruits chunks prepared at home
✔ Homemade popcorns
✔ Dry fruits
✔ Rice cakes
✔ Peanut butter
✔ Egg noodles with ricotta cheese
✔ Oatmeal pancakes with honey
✔ Dates Spread
✔ Fruit smoothie
✔ Veggie pita pocket
✔ Boiled eggs
✔ Oat cookies with berries
✔ Baked sweet potato
✔ Kale chips
These are some homemade healthy snack options that you can introduce to your children. Give them variety, so they don’t get bored. Involve your children in food preparation and meal planning.
Benefits of snacking
- Snacks boost your energy levels and keep your child energetic throughout the day.
- Prevents your blood sugar levels from dropping
- Manages your appetite
- Maintain balanced nutrition
- Prevents overeating
- Snacks control your cravings
- Snacks works as a fuel for body and brain
Snacking is important for healthy and active children, and the food choices of parents impact their eating habits significantly. Instead of choosing semi-prepared or ready-to-eat snacks, go for home-prepared nutritious snacks.
Avoid sugary as they are high in artificial flavors. Processed foods have trans fats and high sodium, which can impact your child’s health. Keep the snack calories under the recommended calorie range; otherwise it will affect your appetite for large meals.