The Best Healthy Snack Ideas for Kids
Lockdown has made it much more difficult for our kids to stay as fit, healthy and active as usual. Lack of routine and structure, cancelled sports clubs and activities and easier access to the snack drawer could all be having a detrimental effect on the health and wellbeing of our children.
To find out how we can encourage our kids to form healthier eating habits and relationships with food, we spoke to Nutritionist Sam Travis. Sam is head of nutrition at Triple X Performance Centre and has over 15 years’ experience in Health, Fitness and Nutrition.
What type of snacks would you recommend for kids?
“It’s so important for our kids to develop positive eating habits from an early age that will help them to live happy, fulfilled, healthy lives.”
“Healthy carbs such as fruit, veg and whole grains for sustained energy can help your kids to stay active and alert throughout the day. These contain vitamins, minerals and fibre too which helps boost the immune system and support digestive health. Some examples of these snacks include:
- Fruit (either on its own or with yogurt and honey)
- Veg (such as sticks i.e. cucumber, peppers, celery)
- Wholemeal toast
- Dried fruits (i.e raisins or berries on their own or with nuts and/or choc chips)
- Fruit smoothies”
“Protein such as meat, fish, eggs and lentils help to build, maintain and repair body tissues. Some great examples of healthy snacks that include protein are:
- Meat (such as slices or chunks)
- Tuna/ham/chicken tortilla wrap
- Ham and cheese slice roll up
- Roasted chickpeas
Combinations of these foods can be great too, such as egg muffins. These go down a treat and are really high in protein and healthy fats. Flavour them however you like, by adding ingredients that your kids like (ham, cheese, their favourite veggies, etc). What’s more, egg muffins can be prepped in advance for the week, which helps make sure there’s always something tasty, healthy and filling in the fridge to grab.”
“Healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, fish, yogurt and cheese support brain development and help us to absorb our vitamins and minerals. Examples of these include:
- Cheese strings or Babybels
- Nuts (either on their own or with dried fruit and choc chips)
- Peanut butter
- A glass of milk (you could even add a scoop of Nesquick for flavour)”
What kinds of snacks would you not recommend?
“Try to steer clear of refined sugar, which is found in cakes, sweets, biscuits, ice cream etc. Which contain high amounts of sugar and little/no nutritional value. These foods can give you energy bursts followed by energy slumps and are normally followed by cravings for more sugar.”
How many calories should my child be eating per day?
“This depends on the age of the child. However, children typically need between 1200-1800 calories per day. A good structure would be making sure to leave a 2 to 3 hour gap between meals. For instance, here’s an example of our family schedule along with some examples of what our kids typically eat in a day.”
At first, it can be really difficult for children to swap what they’re used to snacking on (perhaps crisps or biscuits) for healthier alternatives. It’s important that you wean them out of this habit gradually instead of just cutting all of these foods out all of a sudden. So for instance, one idea could be to let them choose whatever snack they’d like in the afternoons, provided that they’ve had a healthy breakfast, morning snack and lunch. Overtime, you can then start swapping these out for healthier alternatives.
We hope this article has been useful in giving you some handy nutrition tips and snack ideas to help keep your kids healthy. Why not have a go at making some of these swaps and see how it goes? You might be surprised to see how many new foods your kids enjoy!