As parents, keeping your kids healthy and happy is always a top priority. One of the simplest (and sometimes most overwhelming) ways to achieve this is by feeding them nutritious snacks throughout the day.
Hi! I’m Lindsay a registered dietitian, owner of Proactive Health Nutrition and creator of the FED Mamas program. I’m also a twin plus one mama and member of MBFOM.
This nutrition month, I thought it’d be fun to talk about snacks.
Most of the parents I talk to struggle with their kids’ snacks for various reasons.
Some of those reasons are not being sure what to serve, their kids seem super focused on snacks, and they feel like they are constantly providing snacks.
So, here are some helpful tips to make snack time a breeze.
One of the most effective ways to decrease the snack attack emotions is to plan ahead. Set aside some time for meal planning (like 20-30 minutes a week) and make a list of snack options. Make a grocery list, so that you’ll have everything you need on hand, and prepare snacks in advance. If you know that Tuesdays are especially busy, for example, you can prepare something in advance, or plan to rely on pre-packaged foods during those especially busy times.
Choose a variety of options
Snack time should be structured similarly to a meal. As in, you, the parent/guardian give some options or decide what will be offered for snack. A balanced snack is something that provides carbohydrates and something that provides a fat or protein. This doesn’t mean all of your snacks need to look like that but if you’re trying to think about how to make your kids’ snacks more balanced this is a pretty generalized way to think about it. I have a handy dandy simplified snack tool that gives some ideas. You can download it here.
Make it fun
Another way to get your child excited about snack time is to make it fun. You can involve them in the preparation process, allow them to choose their own snacks, create fun shapes with their food, or lean into a theme. For example, giving your kids a choice between 2 items that they generally enjoy, using cookie cutters to cut melon into fun shapes (school-aged kids can help with this), or choosing to offer more green foods for St. Patrick’s Day.
Keep it simple
Snack time doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, keeping it simple and easy can make it more enjoyable for everyone. Consider offering a snack tray or having snack bins with foods you are comfortable with your kids eating and allowing your child to grab what they want during snack times.
Let’s talk about processed snacks
Processed snacks are convenient!! I know all of you are busy, busy parents and sometimes having that squished Bear Paw in the bottom of your bag is the saving grace you need. I believe these foods can be an important tool to helping parents make sure their kids get enough food. I encourage you to think about, what else can I add? Is it a Bear Paw and a cheese string? Maybe some fruit gummies and a homemade muffin with nut/seed butter.
When processed foods, especially the kinds that are marketed to kids, are only offered at snack, this has the potential to make snacks so desirable that meals become unwanted. If this is your experience, consider mixing it up. Perhaps at snack times you offer some of the food items you would typically offer for lunch and at lunch (or other meals) offer some of those snack foods. The other fun tip I love to share is to take the packaging off the packaged snack foods. This can encourage the child to treat it like all the other food being offered.
Feeding your kids snacks doesn’t have to be a chore. By planning ahead, choosing a variety of options, making it fun, keeping it simple, and working with processed snacks, you can ensure that your child is getting the nutrition they need to grow and thrive.
If you’re looking for more nutrition tips, I share monthly blogs and recipes on my website at proactivehealthnutrition.com, as well as send out a monthly community newsletter. If you’re interested, you can sign up for the newsletter here.