School is back in full swing and our brains consume a lot of energy, so don’t be surprised if your child comes home hungry most days. It can be tempting to ask them to wait until dinner to eat, but a well-chosen snack can provide good nutrients and be filling without ruining the next meal. And snacks aren’t just for kids—use the tips below for planning your own during or after work snacks.
Ideally, a snack provides 150-200 calories. This is just enough to tide you over, but not so much that it ruins your appetite later. Choose from at least two food groups and include a protein when possible. Try to use snack time to fill in nutrient gaps—this is a great time to serve a portion of dairy, fruit and or vegetables. Treats are okay occasionally but ideally will be saved for special occasions. Below are ideas of some healthy snack combinations.
whole wheat crackers and cheese stick or slices;
apple slices and 1 Tbsp peanut butter;
1 container Greek yogurt with a sprinkle of cereal mixed in;
½ peanut butter and jelly sandwich;
Banana split: slice banana in half and top with vanilla yogurt and granola;
½ cup cottage cheese and whole wheat crackers;
1 corn tortilla sprinkled with low-fat cheddar cheese, warmed in the microwave & topped with salsa;
2 cups popcorn and 2 Tbsp nuts; and
Graham crackers and skim milk.
On the go? Pack a snack! Grab a piece of whole fruit and a handful of nuts, whole grain crackers and low fat cheese or whole grain cereal Greek yogurt. If you like granola bars, look for ones with less than 200 calories per bar and don’t include sugar in the first three listed ingredients.
After snack time, you and your child might still need some time to unwind. Instead of turning on the television, consider heading outside for some physical activity. As little as 20 minutes of physical activity has been proven to promote improved physical and mental health as well as sleep for adults and kids should strive toward 60 minutes of active play each day. Play a game outside, head to the park or simply walk around the neighborhood.