Tue | Jun 28, 2022

Snacking the healthy way

Published:Wednesday | January 19, 2022 | 12:06 AM
A calabash full of fruits!
A calabash full of fruits!
Students delighted over a colourful basket of fruits and vegetables.
Students delighted over a colourful basket of fruits and vegetables.
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Eating the right snacks is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Snacking boosts energy levels, as well as provides little delights throughout the day. By shopping smart, making mindful decisions, and being aware of ingredients, you can easily integrate healthy snacks into your life.

Snack time is a great opportunity to sneak some extra nutrients into your child’s diet. Instead of highly processed snack foods, fill your child’s tummy with whole foods that will provide energy and nutrition. Fruit and vegetable snacks are always the best choice, but if the children are having packaged snacks, just remember to aim for two per day.

It can be difficult to know what to do when it comes to snacks, so here a few tips and advice to help you make and buy healthier options.

· YOGURT

Yogurt is an excellent snack for children because it is a good source of protein and calcium. Calcium is especially important for children’s developing bones. Some yogurts also contain live bacteria, which benefit the digestive system.

Most yogurts marketed to kids are high in sugar. Instead, choose plain, full-fat yogurt and sweeten it with fresh fruit or a drizzle of honey. Still, make sure not to give honey to infants under 12 months old, as they are at a greater risk of a serious infection called botulism.

· NUTS

Nuts are high in healthy fats, along with fibre and antioxidants. Dietary fat is important for supporting growth in children.

Doctors used to recommend withholding nuts from children due to the risk of an allergic reaction, but more recent evidence suggests that introducing nuts at an early age lowers this risk.

Nevertheless, nuts can be a choking hazard, so make sure your child is able to handle the texture before giving nuts as a snack.

· OATMEAL

Oatmeal is a healthy breakfast for kids but also makes a great snack. Oats are high in soluble fibre, which increases the number of beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract, along with other health benefits.

Skip flavoured packets which are high in sugar, and make your oatmeal with whole, rolled oats. Add about 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon and some diced apples for sweetness. If you make the oatmeal with milk instead of water, it will add some additional protein and calcium.

· CHEESE

Cheese is mostly made up of protein and fat and is a good source of calcium. Studies show that eating cheese and other dairy products is linked to better overall diet quality.

Full-fat dairy foods significantly contribute to a child’s nutritional requirements for calcium, magnesium, and vitamins A and D.

Cheese provides children with high-quality protein, which is needed for proper growth. Protein will also help them feel full between meals. What is more, some studies note that children who eat cheese are less likely to get cavities.

· FRUIT SMOOTHIE

A fruit smoothie is a good way to pack a lot of nutrients into a small snack. You can also add veggies to a smoothie. With the sweetness of the fruit, your kid may not even realise they are in there.

Use whole, fresh ingredients and avoid fruit juice, which is high in sugar. There are countless combinations you can try.

· HARD-BOILED EGGS

Keep hard-boiled eggs in the refrigerator for a quick, high-protein treat. Eggs are highly nutritious and an excellent snack for children. They provide high-quality protein and several vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B12, riboflavin, and selenium.

They also contain lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids that are beneficial for eye health. Furthermore, they are one of the best food sources of choline, a vitamin that is necessary for proper brain development.

· RAISIN SNACK PACK

Raisins are dried grapes. They have nearly all of the nutrients found in fresh grapes but in a smaller package. Raisins contain iron, a nutrient that many children do not get enough of, and which is needed to transport oxygen throughout your body.

Moreover, raisins pack plant compounds, including oleanolic acid, which may protect your child’s teeth from cavities by preventing bacteria from adhering to them.

Raisin snack packs are an easy grab-and-go snack that is much healthier than most convenience foods.

· FRUITS

A piece of fruit is a convenient and healthy snack for kids. Most fruits contain fibre and important nutrients like potassium and vitamins A and C.

Bananas, apples, pears, grapes, peaches, and plums are examples of fruits that can be used for grab-and-go snacks. Cut fruits like pineapple, cantaloupe, and mango into bite-size pieces and store in small containers for convenient snacks.

Many children get hungry between meals. A healthy snack can provide your children with energy and help them get the nutrients they need on a daily basis. Offer your children whole, unprocessed foods at snack time instead of pre-packaged snack foods.

keisha.hill@gleanerjm.com