Snacks are an important part of a child’s day, as they should cover around 15% of children’s daily nutritional intake. By comparison, breakfast should cover 25%, lunch 30% and dinner 30%. However when it comes to snack foods,most children tend to eat sugary, fatty or processed foods that are often full of additives. Therefore, here are a few ideas for healthy and natural snack foods that keep your children’s health a top priority!
An ideal healthy snack has 3 essential elements
In order to prevent your children from grazing all afternoon long, it is better to avoid certain foodstuffs such as biscuits or savoury crackers, cakes, sweets, sodas or syrups.
One can of soda contains the equivalent of 7 spoons of sugar.
A cereal based product
The ideal healthy snack contains a cereal based product such as organic whole grain cereals (one bowl), whole grain crisp breads, one or two slices of whole grain bread, or cereal-based biscuits with no added sugar.
Cereals are essential for good functioning of the muscles and the brain, as they provide energy and indispensable nutrients to the body, such as iron, magnesium and potassium.
Of course, a small bar of chocolate can accompany the bread or cereal.
A dairy product
This could be a cup of cocoa, a sweet or fruity yoghurt, some quark or a small piece of cheese (such as feta, emmental, etc.)
Rich in calcium and protein, dairy products are essential for children’s growth and bone solidity.
Ideally go for fruits that contain high levels of vitamins A and C. Rich in vitamins, minerals and fibre, fruit is essential for the intestinal flora in the digestive system.
An orange juice, a clementine, a banana, an apricot or a handful of strawberries has enough vitamin C for a snack.
Don’t hesitate to offer your child some water to quench their thirst before giving them fruit juices, to prevent them from drinking too much (never more than 2 glasses for a snack).
Recommendations regarding children’s snacks
Nutritionists generally recommend the following in terms of children’s snacks:
- limit their consumption of sugary drinks (syrups or sodas) to a couple of times a week, even if we tend to allow them a little more during periods of intense heat, when the body needs more energy than usual
- limit biscuits to once or twice a week
- prioritise fruits such as kiwis, oranges, clementines and strawberries, which are very rich in vitamin C
- try to limit cakes to once a week
- insist that children eat at the table, in a calm environment with no televisions or screens, so that snack time doesn’t go on too long
Children who have a snack in the late afternoon tend to be slimmer than those who don’t take a snack at this time, because their calorie intake is better spread throughout the day. Obviously, all of these recommendations also apply to adults!