Tips to pack a healthy snack for your child
“Children require a variety of nutrients to help their bodies develop and grow,” says Theresa Diduck, Senior Dietitian at The Scarborough Hospital. “Snacks also help them stay alert and energized throughout the school day.”
If children are hungry they may not perform as well in school, and if a snack is not available or it’s something the child doesn’t like, he or she is more likely to reach for junk food.
The provincial government’s new School Food and Beverage Policy ensures the provision of healthy food sold in schools, and is an excellent opportunity to talk to your child about developing healthy eating habits.
Theresa provides some tips to help you pack healthy snacks for your child:
- Come up with some ideas together. If children are involved in preparing their own snacks, they are more likely to actually eat them. From picking out a few items at the grocery store to preparing and packing the snack, it’s a great way to spend time with your child while teaching them about healthy foods.
- Pack water or milk as a beverage instead of juice, pop or energy drinks that are full of sugar.
- While pre-packaged, processed foods might be easier, they usually have low nutritional value and are not able to sustain your child throughout the day. When your child asks for processed snacks, talk to him or her about which healthy foods they enjoy eating and include those instead.
- Make snack time a regular part of your child’s routine and always have healthy snacks available at home so they get used to munching on foods that are better for them.
- Think of snacks as mini-meals and try to include two of the four food groups in each snack. Visit Canada’s Food Guide for more information. Some suggestions include hummus with vegetables, yogurt and fruit and cheese with crackers.
- Don’t use snacks or treats to reward your child. Talk to your kids about the life-long benefits of healthy eating rather than viewing food as a reward.
Discover which healthy foods your child loves and spend time together creating yummy snack options. If your child has food they enjoy eating available to them throughout the day, they will eat the snacks you pack and develop excellent habits along the way.