Kids today have activities galore. Between the music lessons, sports, religious studies and arts, some children are scheduled from the first thing in the morning until they go to bed at night. Finding room for proper nutrition is challenging.
Much thought and preparation is required to set children up for a successful day of healthful eating. When planning meals and snacks doesn’t happen, kids are stuck with vending machine and fast food options. It’s okay to occasionally have foods from these places, but as an exception, rather than the rule.
With proper practice and planning, it will become second nature to give kids foods that will promote health and wellbeing as they run from activity to activity. In fact, parents may benefit as well.
Here are some helpful tips:
- Have a nonperishable snack box in the car. Fill it with high-fiber, healthful granola bars, trail mix, dried fruit, boxes of raisins, nuts, water and whole grain crackers in proper portions. Replenish it as needed or weekly at a minimum. Each morning take at least one piece of fresh fruit along to eat with the snack box item.
- Make sure your child’s locker at school has a similar snack box if applicable. If not, leave an extra snack and water bottle with either a change of clothing that is left at school in the desk or cubby.
- Remember to make sure your child has some protein or fat in their snack, so that he/she stays fuller longer. High-fiber carbohydrates are the best bet to pair with protein or fat, helping you get the most nutrition from the snack.
- Ask your child each day if he/she ate a snack between activities, so you know if replenishment is necessary.
- Buy only high-fiber grains that contain at least three grams of fiber, so your child will feel fuller from snacking for a longer period of time.
- Pre-portion snacks that you buy at the grocery store into baggies or plastic containers immediately so they are ready to go for the week.
- Establish three to five meals that take less than 15 minutes to prepare. When you or your child are going to get home late and are starving, consider scrambled eggs, heated leftovers, a sandwich, granola and yogurt, grilled cheese, a bagel with cream cheese, soup or peanut butter and jelly – better options than a fast food stop.
- Have several cold packs in your freezer and ready to go, so that if they don’t make it back into the freezer immediately after use, you are still able to keep snacks and meal cold.
- Fuel your kids with yogurt, cheese sticks or frozen applesauce which will thaw by the time they need to eat it. It is also a good idea to freeze water bottles in the summertime or warm weather, so your child will have a refreshing drink.
Try these snack suggestions:
- Dried cereal with seeds, nuts or dried fruit
- Yogurt with granola
- Half a sandwich and a piece of fruit
- Hummus with tortilla or vegetables
- High-fiber cereal bar with a piece of fruit
- String cheese and crackers
- Graham crackers with peanut butter
- Popcorn and peanut mixture
- Trail mix