Healthy Snacks for your child
06-01-2017
Kids are growing, so they need to snack to fuel their energy levels. But how much is too much between meals, and what are the right kinds of snacks?

How much depends on their age and physical activity level. If they are busy and active, away from the computer and running around outside, kids will actually self-regulate how much they need.

Three a Day: Stocking Up on Snacks

Because kids have smaller stomachs, they can't hold enough food from regular meals alone. Generally three meals and up to three healthy snacks each day will allow them to meet their nutritional needs. Children who play sports, however, will need heftier snacks and more calories than a child who is less physically active.

Try to plan your kids' snacks wisely and schedule them at least two hours before mealtime. With this many snacks, kids don't need to feel full all of the time, so keep the portions small. A bit of hunger between snacks and meals will help them to eat healthier foods when they are offered.

Give them celery and cream cheese or apple slices with peanut butter. Make mini zucchini-carrot muffins, offer low-fat string cheese, and have fruit already cut up. Air-popped popcorn isn't filling, but it's fun to eat. Just be sure to have healthy food in the house because there's no reason to have unhealthy junk for snacks. Make it a fun, pleasurable part of life.

When providing snacks for your kids, it's also important to keep in mind food allergies. If your child is allergic to peanuts, for example, you may want to purchase sunflower butter. There are a lot of snacks that don't have wheat, milk, or peanuts. Talk to an allergist or registered dietitian for some more ideas.

We don't know why food allergies are on the rise. But parents need to be very careful when choosing snacks for kids with allergies. Talk to your kids and their friend's parents as well. In general, junk food once in a while is okay. Be careful not to forbid any foods. It's very important to talk with your kids about being healthy and how good it is for you.

However, you can make it a fun and motivating thing to do. If a child comes home and says their friend’s mom gave them doughnuts, you should say, 'I'm sure it tastes good, but we don't have it here because it's not healthy.' Parents who are overly restrictive could send their child down a road to unhealthy eating.

Finally, be sure to recruit your kids to participate in the process and set an example by eating a healthy diet yourself. If kids are allowed to make healthy choices and see that you're doing the same, healthy snacking will be that much more appealing
Ages
2 to 3
Calories
1,000-1,400, depending on growth and activity level
Protein
2-4 ounces
Fruits
1-1.5 cups
Vegetables
1-1.5 cups
Grains
3-5 ounces
Dairy
2-2.5 cups
Ages
4 to 8
Calories
1,200-2,000, depending on growth and activity level
Protein
3-5.5 ounces
Fruits
1-2 cups
Vegetables
1.5-2.5 cups
Grains
4-6 ounces
Dairy
2.5-3 cups
Ages
4 to 8
Calories
1,200-1,800, depending on growth and activity level
Protein
3-5 ounces
Fruits
1-1.5 cups
Vegetables
1.5-2.5 cups
Grains
4-6 ounces
Dairy
2.5-3 cups
Ages
9 to 13
Calories
1,600-2,600, depending on growth and activity level
Protein
5-6.5 ounces
Fruits
1.5-2 cups
Vegetables
2-3.5 cups
Grains
5-9 ounces
Dairy
3 cups
Ages
9 to 13
Calories
1,400-2,200, depending on growth and activity level
Protein
4-6 ounces
Fruits
1.5-2 cups
Vegetables
1.5-3 cups
Grains
5-7 ounces
Dairy
2.5-3 cups
Ages
14 to 18
Calories
2,000-3,200, depending on growth and activity level
Protein
5.5-7 ounces
Fruits
2-2.5 cups
Vegetables
2.5-4 cups
Grains
6-10 ounces
Dairy
3 cups
Ages
14 to 18
Calories
1,800-2,400, depending on growth and activity level
Protein
5-6.5 ounces
Fruits
1.5-2 cups
Vegetables
2.5-3 cups
Grains
6-8 ounces
Dairy
3 cups