If I ever get the chance to be on Family Feud, I KNOW this will be my first question.
Steve Harvey: Top six answers on the board. Name something your children ask as soon as they get home from practice.
Me: (smashing my buzzer because I got this!) What’s there to eat?
Steve Harvey: (looking up at the big survey board) Okay…she said…“What’s there to eat?”
Bing, Bing #1 Answer.
So now, as I open the door to the house and my children slide past me straight to the cabinets, we enter the “snack zone” where snacks disappear faster than my children when I ask them to clean their rooms.
And I have to ask…what’s the deal with all this snacking? Is it healthy? How many snacks should they have each day? What are the best options for snack foods for my athletes?
Let’s take a walk together through the kitchen and talk about planning satisfying and healthy snacks for your active child. So when you get the question, you can respond back with lightning speed…check out the tray of veggies with veggie dip, cheese cubes and some whole grain crackers waiting for you.
IS SNACKING, OR GRAZING, ALL DAY HEALTHY?
Really what becomes most important is to do snacks RIGHT because when snack foods are nutrient-dense, whole foods that satisfy your child, snacking perfectly fills in the gaps. But wow, there are so many snack options available to our children and most are prepackaged, bagged and processed. If snacking gets out of control, it can quickly contribute more sugar, fat, and calories to our child’s daily diet than needed. It’s more about quality over quantity.
HOW MANY SNACKS DOES MY CHILD NEED EACH DAY?
First, look at how active your child is on a day-to-day basis. Most children need one to two snacks per day; however, kids who play sports (especially if the sport involves lots of running or swimming and your child is burning tons of calories) may need an extra snack.
The rule of thumb is to plan for an extra snack on days when they are engaged in an activity for an hour or more.
WHAT FOODS MAKE UP A HEALTHY SNACK?
The best snacks are a combination of protein, fiber (carbs) and a healthy fat. If you can include all three or two out of the three in your child’s snack they will be getting great nutrition and feel full. Some examples:
Hard-boiled egg and carrots sticks
Peanut butter and celery
Cheese cubes, nitrate-free Jerky, and an apple
Carrots and HummusNuts w/ dried fruit and any fresh vegetable
The combinations are endless, but the idea is to plan for more than just a single food so your child can keep hunger at bay until the next meal. Plan snacks with food combinations to add sustaining nutrition.
You can get more ideas and a snacking plan here @ Sports Moms United Snack Plan
HOW CAN I KEEP MY ATHLETE’S SNACKING ON TRACK?
Let’s finish up with four things you can do to right now to create the best snack bar in town!
1. Serve snacks in food combination. Try to avoid the single food snack.
2. Portion control. If you are combining nutrient-dense whole foods in their snack routine, they should be able to eat smaller portions and feel full and satisfied. Instead of mindlessly eating an entire bag of chips.
3. Whole Foods First. There are times when pre-packaged snacks will happen, but when you plan your snacks always think whole, fresh foods first.
4. Variety is key. They won’t get bored and they will be getting the full spectrum of nutrition their growing, active bodies need.
It’s time for some High Fives! You are going to totally rock this snacking thing now!
For more great tips and resources join our Facebook community at Sports Moms United!