As a parent of two, I happen to know most kids favorite foods don’t include celery stalks or parsnips. As a matter of fact, even children who do consume healthy amounts of fruits and vegetables, also crave and enjoy the not so good treats of the supermarket.
So what has your child been munching on this summer that you really wish they weren’t? Is it that big jug of chocolate milk, or maybe they drink endless amounts of Hi-C, maybe it’s the pop-ices that they can consume 10 of before they had enough? Whatever it is, the key isn’t to ban it. Think of all the “lose weight” articles you have read pertaining to your own eating habits. Studies show that when we omit a food, or food groups (even sugars) we end up in the long run, over indulging in them. You want you kids to have healthy relationship with food; after all your main concern is their health and ability to focus and learn without the hindrance of sugar “highs” and “lows”.
With that said, pick up a pen and paper and jot down the favorite snacks of your children, good and bad. For example, you can write carrot sticks, M&M’s, brownies, chips, grapes, watermelon, pudding, popsicles, ice cream cones, and Oreos. When you run down all the foods that are out of the meals you create for them (breakfast, lunch, dinner) they typically tend to be fast, finger foods. However, we sometimes give our kids these fast finger foods as a substitute for a meal, which lessens the amount of quality food they consume in a day. For example, if you give your child grapes and a popsicle for lunch, you just omitted a healthy snack option and included an unhealthy snack all in one “meal” To break it down even simpler, your child could of had a peanut butter and jelly sand-which on 100% whole wheat bread for lunch, and grapes for snack. The popsicle could have been pushed off until after dinner, but now it’s only 12:30pm and your child will likely consume more snacks before the day is over.
So the first tip is, create meals. I know how easy it is to think cheese and crackers is a meal. Especially since the creation of the overly popularized “lunch-ables” But, yes this too falls into the snack category. Snacks are good for kids. Children need a steady food supply to sustain their energy levels as well as provide mood support. Again, think back to yourself. If you haven’t eaten and have been working all day, your probably a bit grumpy and irritable. Unhealthy snacks are not the end of our children, and should not be looked at as “taboo” What would childhood be like without cookies and milk or a pudding after dinner? Some foods however, should not be on-limits to kids whenever they are hungry. Cookies and milk shouldn’t be eaten for every snack until the supply is gone.
Most children have a few favorite snack food that actually are healthy! For my kids it’s typically fruits, but that’s a sugar I can deal with. I’m not going to say limit the watermelon your kids eat, because truthfully, if they have their fill of it, they won’t eat as many of those cookies!
So my second tip is always have your child’s favorite healthy snacks on hand. These should be the most requested snacks as well. Which means when your child gets bored of them, introduce new ideas and foods that stay in this “healthy” area.
My third an final tip is all about using your mind to create better options to the not so good snacks. If your child loves pudding, try substituting it for yogurt. Watch out though, many yogurt’s today have loads of sugar. It is actually best to by plain yogurt and mix it with fresh fruits. You may notice you don’t even need sugar, or you may just substitute with honey. If you kids could eat chips all day long, limit the amount. Maybe buy snack sized bags and only have one out for the day. You could also but the big bag and create handful sized potions with ziplock bags.
If they love chips, make this an opportunity to include something good, make your own salsa for then to dip it in, try hummus, or even sour cream. Remember kids need more fat then adults, plus like yogurt, there is active cultures in sour cream to make it healthy, but refrain from those jars of processes cheese or bean dips. Make it at home, remember your trying to include healthy with the unhealthy. Another thing to substitute is chocolate milk. If you buy it by the gallon you will notice high fructose corn syrup, sugar, corn syrup, and a few other “sugar” words. Just buy the mix yourself and at least your kids are getting more milk then corn syrup. If they can’t live without it, dilute it with regular milk. This goes for juice too, always buy 100% juice, and dilute it with water. Depending on your kids age, you can get away with almost 50/50 without them knowing! and it’s much better then sugary ice tea drinks or Hawaiian punch!
These are simple snacking ideas for kids that cut the sugar out without adding any artificial sweeteners. It is my hopes that you got something beneficial from this and put it into practice for your kids health.