How to Make Snack Time Healthy and Fun

Filed under: Nutrition: Health, Mealtime

children snack time

Fruit before cookies when it comes to snack time. Credit: Getty Images

It's tough to please everyone at snack time. Parents want their kids to eat healthy food, while kids often push for chips and soda.

But experts tell ParentDish the middle ground is attainable with minimal eye rolls from your children.

Elisa Zied, registered dietitian and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, tells ParentDish she tries to empower her two children to make good choices at snack time without prohibiting sugary or salty treats.

Zied suggests offering less processed foods, such as cheese sticks, yogurt, fruit, popcorn, nuts, seeds, whole grain crackers or granola bars. After kids have eaten a healthy snack, you can offer them a couple of cookies or a 100 calorie pack of their favorite chips.

This kind of routine at snack time helps kids understand portion control and how to eat an appropriate balance of foods, Zied says, adding that parents should read food labels to portion out cookies, chips and other treats.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers its own snacking suggestions for different age groups. For instance, preschoolers might like graham crackers dipped in yogurt, whole grain crackers or mini rice cakes and sliced fruit, according to MyPyramid.gov. This site also includes tips on portion control and exercise.

The ADA lists great snack ideas on its website, eatright.org, as well. Try smearing a scoop of frozen yogurt on two graham crackers and add a sliced banana for a tasty sandwich. Another suggestion: Mix together peanut butter and cornflakes in a bowl. Shape into balls and roll in crushed graham crackers. AOL Health also offers after-school treat options that keep kids healthy, active and satisfied.

When kids snack right before dinner, parents may worry their appetites will be ruined. But if the snacks come from one of the major food groups, just consider them a part of the meal, Zied says.

She also tells her kids that eating more fruits and veggies will make them feel better overall, and they'll have more energy when playing their favorite sports.

So, go ahead and offer your kids a snack, just try the healthy one before the cookies.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.