After-School Snacks

Do your kids come home from school and immediately reach into the pantry or refrigerator looking for something to eat? It’s not surprising that most kids are hungry after school is over. Many schools have early lunch then an afternoon of classes and sometimes after-school activities before students get a chance to eat again.

When kids are hungry, they are more inclined to eat what’s handy. No wonder the snack food vending machine looks more appealing as the day goes by! While you may not always be able to control what your kids eat in the late afternoon, we can figure out a happy medium. Let’s make sure that your kids can enjoy a snack while still having room for dinner.

Make healthy snacks readily and easily available by packing them in their lunch boxes or backpacks, or by having them visible at home. Leave something healthy up front and center on the kitchen counter or in the refrigerator. For nights when dinner is hours away, a substantial snack like a half-sandwich could be a healthy option for snack time. Some other ideas for easy to grab snacks are fruit (apples, grapes, bananas), low-sugar granola bars, pretzels and hummus.

Most importantly, talk to your kids about which snacks they would like to have at snack time. Come up with a list of healthy options together, or better yet, take your kids along to the grocery store and spend some time teaching your kids about nutrition fact labels. Together, you can choose snacks that are low in sugar, fat, and salt. Involving your kids in the process makes it more likely for them to learn to make healthy food choices in the future.

Is Snacking Good?

Good news, snacking is good for you….as long as they are healthy snacks! During adolescence, the body needs more nutrients to grow which is why teenagers feel hungry a lot throughout the day. This is why snacks are a great way to satisfy that hunger and give the body the nutrients it needs to grow. Although it may be tempting for every teen to have a soda and candy bar after school, the temporary sugar boost it gives will slow them down in the long run. In order to keep energy levels going and to avoid weight gain, choose snacks that are full of fiber and protein such as peanut butter, fruits, or yogurts. However, you have to beware of claims that snack manufacturers make on their products. Just because something is “all natural” or “pure” does not mean that it is nutritious, such as fruit juices which can be filled with sugar which makes it extremely high in calories. Similarly, watch out for snacks with “low-fat” claims, because usually the fat is replaced with large amounts of sugar which is just as unhealthy. In order to judge how healthy a product is for you, look at the nutrition information on the food label.