Snack foods for healthy kids
Focused on Health - August 2012
by Adelina Espat
Are you looking for kid-friendly snack ideas? We’re here to help.
Snack time isn’t meal time, after all. But it’s still a great opportunity to fill your kids with foods rich in vitamins and minerals that keep their immune systems strong. And, eating nutritious foods can help protect your kids’ cells from damage that can lead to cancer later in life.
Get inspired with these tips for healthier snacks.
Focus on portion control
That’s because too many daily calories can lead to unhealthy weight gain and increased cancer risks. Find out how many calories your kids need. Then, make sure they’re getting just the right amount from snacks.
Control portion sizes by dividing snacks into healthy-sized servings before feeding your kids. Try these tips to keep snack servings small.
- Choose mini plastic containers for one-item snacks.
- Use baking cups to create dividers in larger containers for multi-item snacks (like veggies and dip).
- Fill an ice cube tray with mini-servings of snack foods.
- Pack to-go foods in snack-size plastic bags.
Make healthy snacks easy and grabbable
Create your own refrigerator snack station with grab-and-go snack options. It’s worth the effort! Kids are less likely to give in to unhealthy snacking if a healthy option is within reach.
Pre-package snack stashes using the portion control tips above. Not sure what to include? Stock your station with some of these healthy snacks:
- Baby-cut carrots
- Celery sticks
- Grape tomatoes
- Apple slices
- Orange segments
- String cheese
- Natural peanut butter (for dipping)
- Hummus (for dipping)
- Peanut butter yogurt (for dipping). Get the recipe.
Make sure your kids don’t empty the snack station in one day. Play it safe by talking to them about why it’s important to practice portion control.
Select healthy store options
If you’re shopping for prepackaged snacks, beware. Most popular store-bought snack packs lack essential nutrients. And they’re loaded with empty calories from solid fats and/or added sugars.
Before buying, read food labels and stay away from snacks high in salt, sugar and/or calories. That includes cracker snack packs. Also, try to avoid deli meat. Research shows that eating too much processed meat, like ham and turkey slices, can increase a person’s cancer risk.
Opt for these healthier store-bought options instead:
- Single-serving bags of pre-sliced fruit
- Single-serving cups of unsweetened applesauce
- Whole grain crackers or pita chips
- Plain or Greek yogurt with fruit
Now, the next time you hear the words, “Can I have a snack?” you’ll be prepared to respond with some kid-friendly, nutrient-packing options!
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Kids Eat Right
How many nights a week do you typically eat food cooked at home? (select only one)
Current Issue - December 2013
Content - August 2012
AIM for a CURE Melanoma Walk and Fun Run
Cancer Risk Check
Could you be more likely to get cancer?
Find out by taking MD Anderson’s Cancer Risk Check.