In all honesty, my kids really do have healthy snacking habits. I started these healthy eating habits when they were babies, and I did my best not to stray the course. I won’t lie; it wasn’t always easy. It certainly would have been less hassle to have handed them a sugary juice box and a microwaved corn dog and walked away. Once in awhile is fine, but everyday? No way! Not for my kids.
It’s not surprising that statistics show children are not consuming enough fruits and vegetables each day. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommends four servings of fruit and five servings of vegetables for a 2,000-calorie diet. Unfortunately, less than 50 percent of children eat these recommended amounts.
FRUITS AND VEGGIES
Healthy snacking and eating habits start when you are young. In our house, there is always a bowl of fresh seasonal fruit on the counter. My children are happy to eat the staples like apples, oranges and bananas, as well as pears, peaches, grapefruit and apricots. I always offer them new fruits to try and they adore figs, papaya, mango, pineapple, berries and melons. In the fall, we consume mass quantities of antioxidant-rich pomegranates. The kids’ lunch boxes always contains a fresh fruit.
We also use vegetables for snacking, too. Carrots, cucumbers, snap peas, celery and bite-sized tomatoes are super kid-friendly. I snag extra packets of salt at some restaurants and put them in the lunch box, especially when there are little grape tomatoes or cucumbers packed in. It’s a Persian thing, I guess, to add salt to these veggies.
For an afternoon snack, I love to pair a fresh fruit or vegetable with a healthy protein. My kids love nuts: pistachios, cashews and peanuts, to name a few. Sugar-free nut butters are also fabulous options. Another great source of protein is cheese: from mozzarella to cheddar to Swiss, you will always find a brick of cheese in our refrigerator. Yogurt is also another healthy protein option. Just read the labels and watch for too much sugar. I freeze those tubes of yogurt for kids to enjoy on HOT days. They love it.
Instead of fatty potato chips, we snack on pretzels, whole-grain crackers and crispy seaweed. Don’t get me wrong, my kids prefer chips, but it’s not eaten on a daily basis!
All of their snacks are in the lower level of our cabinets/pantry. Easy access for shorties. I keep the sugary stuff way up high where they can’t reach – even with a step ladder. Because despite what I teach them, if they find a box of cookies within reach, they will go for it.
Where’s the self-control kids?!!!
And finally, my kidlets take their water bottles to school with them. Their teachers are very supportive and let them keep their water bottles on their desk. Juice and sodas are reserved for special occasions only. During the week the rule is water and milk, ONLY.
What are your tips for healthy snacking habits for kids?