The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) recommends that children need to eat every three to four hours to meet their energy demands. Kids are so active during the day that they need more than three meals a day to maintain the adequate fuel to function during the day. Younger children need at least two snacks, and older children need at least one to keep up with the demand for nutrients and energy boosting. A healthy snack can make a vital difference in a child's diet.
When children are in school, they need snacks that help them focus and concentrate. It is no secret that children love sweet and highly sugary treats, but unfortunately, these are detrimental to our child's development. For example, children's juices have more fructose, and fructose can hinder children's focus and memory. According to a UCLA article by Stuart Wolpert, research led by Gomez-Pinilla found that fructose damages communication between brain cells and increases toxic molecules in the brain. These studies revealed that a long-term high-fructose diet diminishes the brain's ability to learn and remember information.
Aware of the importance of giving our children a healthy and balanced diet, we want to share a list of healthy, low-sugar snacks you can add to your child's diet. You will notice that eating healthy does not have to be unflavored and boring.
1. Veggies- You can buy baby carrots, celery, cucumbers, pickles, and chickpeas, among other great veggies. Make it fun with a side of a fresh dip, cheese, or salsa.
2. Fruits- Apples, grapes, plums, oranges, clementines, pears, watermelon, bananas, strawberries, pineapple, blueberries, etc. These fruits can be a great complement to cottage cheese, yogurt, and cheese. You can also use fruits to make great smoothies or top your child's favorite fruits with granola.
3. Granola Bars- Look for no added sugar, organic, healthy bars.
4. Cheese- Look for low or reduced sodium options. Also, look for high calcium and protein.
5. Applesauce- You can make it or buy it. Make sure to look for no added sugar options.
6. Yogurt- They come in different options, plain, in tubes, drinkable like a smoothie, with toppings, etc. Make sure they are low in added sugar.
7. Homemade snacks- Nothing is better than a snack you made from scratch. You can make no-bake energy bites, homemade granola bars, protein shakes, smoothies, and gluten-free treats.
8. Peanut Butter or Almond Butter- Packed with protein and fiber, it is a great option. Make sure you look for natural peanut butter with no sugar added or low sugar.
9. Boiled Eggs- Eggs fill you up and are healthy. You can add spices or make them in creative ways, like deviled eggs.
10. Healthy drinks- Water, Milk, 100%juice with no sugar added, homemade fruit smoothies, and iced tea are great options. Avoid sugary drinks, caffeinated drinks, and sodas; these are not good for children.
As you can see, there are many healthy options for your children. We need to be mindful and aware of what to search for. We have to be on the lookout and read the labels for low sugar, no sugar added, organic, low sodium, no syrups, no high fructose, no trans-fat, and no high caloric snacks.
We also want to put your mind at ease by reiterating our commitment to serving our students healthy and well-balanced breakfasts and lunches to help them be alert and strong.