Snacks can be a helpful addition to a day’s meals if good choices are made. Children should eat every 3-5 hours during the day in order to keep energy up and prevent irritability. Just make sure the afternoon snack is at least 2 hours before dinner is served, so his or her appetite isn’t affected.
Should your child want something within an hour of a meal, offer a small fresh fruit or vegetable sticks. School age children’s snacks should be between 100-200 calories and older children and adolescents may require up to 300 calories/snack to meet most estimated needs.
When running from school to practice to play dates to all the other tasks, here are some snack ideas to keep on hand and quell the hunger pangs:
- Portion nuts into individual storage bags or reusable containers.
- Buy granola bars with at least 3 grams of fiber.
- Slice an apple and use a tablespoon as peanut butter for a dip.
- Sliced vegetable sticks go great with hummus, low fat dressing or a bean dip.
- Cheese sticks or wedges and high-fiber, whole grain crackers.
- Yogurt, straight from the container or mix in cereal or granola.
- Oatmeal with raisins.
- Turkey and cheese rolled up with or without a tortilla wrap.
- A mini bagel with low fat cream cheese.
- Individual portions of fruit, applesauce, or gelatin with fruit.
It’s good for children and teens to snack, especially if they are eating the right foods. By providing their growing bodies with a steady supply of nutrients, kids stay healthy and energized.
written by Gayle Jennings, MS, RD, LDN Clinical Dietitian III, Memorial Medical Center