Children, perhaps more so than adults, need snacks. The eating habits of a child typically mirror those of their caregiver, consisting of three daily meals: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. However, as most caregivers can attest, getting a child to clean their plate can be a challenge.
Anxiousness, coupled with a proportionately small stomach, make it difficult for children to sit down and eat an entire meal. As a result, children may not receive enough calories each day. This is very unhealthy for both children and adults because fewer calories means less energy and nutrients to fuel the body and protect it from foreign objects, like viruses and bacteria. Preparing small, nutritious snacks will help children consume the calories they need for energy as well as the nutrients they need to stay healthy.
Heart Healthy Whole Grains
Whole grains are building blocks for a nutritious and filling snack. Parents must take caution, though. Most “whole grain” foods are made using only a small portion of actual whole grains. In addition, whole grain cereals and snack bars are often over processed and rich in sugar. The best whole grain snacks include oatmeal, topped with fresh blueberries, or a small portion of brown rice and vegetables. While the portions may be small (two children sharing a single bowl of oatmeal, for example), the nutritious advantage is huge. Whole grains are associated with a lessened risk of heart disease, and they are a fundamental source of energy!
Delicious Dairy Products
Dairy products make the perfect mid-day snack for children. Foods like low fat cheese sticks, yogurt, and cottage cheese with fresh fruit offer two main nutritional benefits. First, they are a good source of protein. Second, they have moderate amounts of unsaturated fat. Studies show that replacing ordinary fat with unsaturated fat, like that found in dairy products, reduces the amount of bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) in your blood (i). Although cholesterol worries are something we typically associate with adults, children too can benefit from eating foods that keep LDL levels low.
Organic Fruits and Vegetables
Organic fruits and vegetables make the best snacks for children. Fruit is a good early morning snack because it is a good source of carbohydrates, water, and vitamins to sustain energy throughout the day. Apples, peaches, grapes, oranges, and watermelon are all great choices. When it comes to late afternoon snacks, though, vegetables are the way to go. Vegetables contain fewer carbohydrates yet are rich in minerals. Serving snacks like raw broccoli, carrots, sliced tomatoes, and celery can replenish a child’s nutrient levels without overfilling their stomachs before dinner. To make things more fun, serve a low fat side to add some extra flavor to the vegetables. Low fat ranch dip, balsamic vinegar and olive oil, light seasoning, or all natural organic peanut butter complement vegetables in a delicious way. Also, dipping is fun! The more fun a snack or meal is, the more likely a child is to eat the entire portion.
Healthy whole grains, dairy products, fruit, and raw vegetables are hands down the best snacks for kids. They offer a moderate serving of calories, healthy fat, protein, and plenty of vitamins and minerals. Holistic dentistry holds the view that overall health is reflected in the mouth; following these snack guidelines will keep your child’s body healthy, and their mouths cavity-free.