Proper nutrition is important at any age. But by encouraging healthy-eating habits while your kids are young, you can help them make better food choices later in life. How can you convince your kids that they can’t survive on peanut butter crackers and sugary fruit snacks alone? These tried-and-tested healthy snack ideas are a great place to start.
1. Be Savvy About Ingredients
Food manufacturers are clever – they employ a host of tricks to fool parents into thinking their brands are healthy when they’re anything but. To put your mind at ease, check the ingredients. Sugar comes in many forms, but as a rule, any ingredient that ends in -ose (such as dextrose, sucrose or fructose) is added sugar, as is corn syrup. Choose store-bought snacks with a short, recognizable list of ingredients, which indicates that the food is less processed and contains fewer additives.
When in doubt, give them fresh fruit – but don’t overdo it. Although it’s good for us, fruit does contain sugar. Aim for a couple of pieces a day, and combine those servings with a handful of nonsalted, nonsugared nuts (if age appropriate) or a piece of string cheese. Eating fruit alongside a source of healthy fat slows down the release of these sugars, sparing your little snacker an energy crash later on.
If you’re worried about the amount of sugar making its way onto your kids’ teeth, now is the best time to encourage healthy oral care habits, too. The Oral-B Pro-Health Stages battery-powered toothbrush cleans chewing surfaces and reaches between teeth, while still cleaning just as gently as a soft manual brush. Pair it with Crest Kids Cavity Protection Sparkle Fun toothpaste to help your kids fight cavities and make brushing more enjoyable.
2. Get Your Kids Involved
Provide your little chefs with a variety of mom-approved ingredients, and let them create their own healthy snack bowls. Berries, chopped apple and soft fruit, such as kiwi or mango, are great options – complete with a dollop of plain Greek or natural yogurt, a drizzle of honey and a sprinkling of chopped nuts. Just keep a roll of Bounty paper towels nearby for the inevitable spills!
Older children will love to make fruit kebabs – have them thread chunks of chopped fruit onto wooden skewers. Or consider investing in a frozen dessert maker for guilt-free fruit-based treats the whole family will love.
3. Make It a Learning Experience
Turn snack time into an educational game by providing a selection of healthy snacks and asking your children where they come from. Does it grow from the ground, or can you pick it from a plant or tree? Does it come from an animal, and if so, which one? Use carrot sticks, chopped cucumber and bell peppers, chunks of cheese, sliced hard-boiled eggs and dips such as hummus. It’s a delicious way to learn where food comes from.
4. Bake It Yourself
Believe it or not, an afternoon of baking can yield healthy results. Even though homemade granola bars often include honey and oil, they also contain oats, which are a great source of fiber and have important minerals essential for good health. They fill up hungry tummies and provide lots of energy. Because they’re homemade, there are no added preservatives or chemicals, and you get to exercise a little portion control. Store-bought snacks are often large and contain a lot of calories. Slice your goodies into bite-sized pieces for a satisfying snack with a fraction of the calories.
When you’re finished baking, turn to Dawn Ultra dish soap to scrub up mixing bowls and baking pans. It contains three times more grease-cleaning power,* which makes dishwashing quicker and easier.
5. Lead by Example
Show your kids how much you enjoy eating healthy snacks. That way, even when you’re not around to guide them, they’ll be more likely to reach for something healthier, too. And don’t worry about being completely sin free. Drizzling a little melted chocolate over your kids’ fruit kebabs will make them feel like they’re not missing out, and it also teaches them the importance of a healthy, balanced diet that has room for a few treats.
*Cleaning ingredients per drop vs. the leading competitor’s nonconcentrated brand
We’d love to hear how you get your kids to choose healthy snacks – share your ideas and comments here!