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Why It's Important for Kids to Have Healthy Snacks

Kenna works with doctors and natural healthcare professionals. Her experience as a fitness instructor helps her share positive health tips.

healthy-snack-ideas-for-anytime

What's Wrong With Snacking?

When we are hungry, we lose our energy and become moody. We need something to sustain us until our next meal. Having a snack solves that problem.

There is nothing wrong with snacking—as long as the snacks are healthy and eaten at the right time of day. Eating sugary snacks may make a person vulnerable to health issues, including obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Fuel for Sports or Exercise

Having healthy snacks, like fruit or low-sugar protein bars, around a sports event is a smart idea. Anyone involved in competitive sports knows the value of snacking on healthy food.

If the players are not heading home for a filling lunch or a hearty dinner right after the game, a sweet apple or a bag of nuts will keep their energy up until they finally get home. Still, some players need an extra push of fuel in the middle of a game, swim meet, or track and field event.

Healthy snacks keep kids happy

Healthy snacks keep kids happy

Prevent Meltdowns

Snacking is a habit for kids on the go or not on the go. Every parent knows what happens to their kids if they skip something to eat: a meltdown or one grumpy kid.
The difficulty is that kids are unaware of how much they eat, even when they sit down for lunch or dinner.

They don’t think about compensating a snack for a meal or how many calories they consumed when they drank a juice box or a can of sugary soda. They often eat more calories than their daily requirement, and the snacks are not healthy compared to eating an apple, orange, or low-sugar power bar.

Prevent Low Blood Sugar

Being around a child or an adult who is hungry is not pleasant. They are grumpy and unnerving. The grumpy person draws the energy from the other people around them, too, so it causes an unpleasant experience for everyone.

Knowing what kind of snack to have and when to have it is crucial. Some people suffer from health problems such as low blood sugar or low iron levels. A nibble of food prevents them from becoming grumpy, and if it is severe enough, they might even experience light-headiness or nausea.

Snacking and watching TV

Snacking and watching TV

Yale Reports on Snacking Habits

The Yale School of Medicine reports:

  • High-calorie snacking is a significant cause of childhood obesity
  • Children are getting 27% of their daily calories from snacks
  • Most snack calories are not healthy choices but sugary desserts, drinks, and salty chips.

Some adults set a poor example because they snack without forethought and eat in boredom while watching television.

Top Snacking Habits to Avoid

  • Mindless self-indulgence: Eating a bag of chips or candy while watching a movie is dangerous. You munch away without noticing the bag of junk food dwindling to nothing. Be aware and use a small serving bowl. Put away the rest for another day.
  • Eating your feelings: Bad days happen. You’ve all experienced it, but eating ice cream or cookies all the time leads to obesity and more health problems.
  • Snacking at night: Nighttime is the worse time to eat, so respect the cut-off time. Not only is it not necessary, but it also interferes with sleep. Your body needs rest while it is sleeping, not digesting your food all night.
  • Snacking all day long: Snacks are small and healthy, not eating all day long. Eat an apple, an orange or a banana, rice cake with almond or peanut butter but in small portions.
  • Skipping meals: Eating a snack to replace a meal is not healthy. Your body needs a routine, so eat when it is breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Munching on snacks tends to be less healthy than meals. Meals are better for you. You can skip snacks, but not meals. Please don’t make it a habit of eating snacks as your meal because it will not curb your hunger.

Eating Between Meals

Most people know if they need a snack during the day for their well-being and mood. The best time to nibble in between meals is 10:30 a.m. or 3:30 p.m. These times won’t interfere with your meals but keeps your energy level up. Don’t snack for the sake of eating. Munch on a snack if you are hungry.

Be smart and plan snacks around unexpected or expected shifts in your schedule. If you have a meeting at 11:30 and know it will run through lunch, eat an apple with almond butter as a snack. That way, your energy levels will sustain you, and you avoid the embarrassment of your stomach growling.

Regular exercise means snacks are a good idea. Eating before your workout ensures you have enough energy throughout your workout. A healthy snack like an orange or an apple after exercise is just as important. Make sure it’s a nibble, not a meal. You can replace the nutrients your body requires at lunch or dinner to function well.

healthy-snack-ideas-for-anytime

Healthy Snack Ideas

At snack time and when you are at home or the office, you can concentrate on eating protein and fiber-rich foods like unsweetened yogurt, almonds, pears, blueberries, raspberries, or apples. All of these foods are rich in nutrients with vitamins and minerals.

When you are away from home, bring your snacks with you, such as:

  • Small bag of raw nuts: contains protein
  • Small piece of cheese or low-fat yogurt is just the right amount
  • Hummus with carrot sticks or celery: good for the heart
  • Easy-to eat-fruit like berries, apples, oranges, and bananas are ideal
  • Wholesome crackers, pretzels, or trail mix are fun and tasty

Nibbling at Home

Snacktime at home is a fun option because you have the freedom of many choices. Don't go hog wild, though; keep the portions small. Some good choices are:

  • Kale, pineapple, berry smoothies with coconut milk or water
  • Cream cheese on a piece of toast with fresh berries
  • Banana with nut butter
  • Leftovers

Get Creative!

Creating yummy snacks requires bright ideas. I whip up hummus and fresh-cut vegetables as a snack during the day. We get busy, and in a rush, so hummus and veggies take the edge off the day as a perfect fast snack. Hummus is a recipe that is easy to make. It consists of chickpeas, tahini, oil, and lemon. Whipping these ingredients together makes an excellent source of energy. I use carrots, celery, cucumber slices, and beets.

You don't have time to make hummus. Reach for a banana and head out the door. Bananas are fantastic as a "pick me up fruit" because they are a great energy source. They contain carbohydrates, potassium, and vitamin B6. All are energy boosters for the body and keep you going and avoiding the afternoon slumps.

Recipe: High Energy Balls

High energy balls are perfect for anyone who gets tired of nuts, dried fruit, or fresh fruit as snacks during the day. The balls are easy to make.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups mixed nuts and dried fruit (toasted sunflower or pumpkin seeds, toasted chopped walnuts or pecans, chopped apricots or mangoes, and raisins)
  • 1 1/2 cups almond butter
  • Honey to taste
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • Shredded coconut

Instructions

  1. Using a medium-size bowl, combine the nuts and dried fruit with a wooden spoon.
  2. Mix in the almond butter. All of the ingredients should stick together.
  3. Add the honey and sea salt to taste, as well as the orange zest. Mix well.
  4. Roll into 1-inch balls; then roll the balls in shredded coconut.
  5. Store the balls in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

I substitute ingredients based on what I have in my kitchen. Sometimes I add herbs, flaxseed, or chia seeds.

Snack Love Notes

It’s most satisfying to consider snacks a special treat and something fun to pick you up in the middle of the day. Preparing your refreshments with foresight makes the whole process more practical and not spontaneous or mindless. The idea is to get creative and appreciate taking care of yourself.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Kenna McHugh