When the kids roll in from school, often the first words out of their mouths are, “I’m hungry!” So what’s a parent to do when it comes to balancing hearty young appetites with the pursuit of good health? Here are some tips:
- Focus on whole foods, avoiding added sugars and unhealthy fats (e.g., not soda and Twinkies).
- Offer food groups that children fall short on during the day like vegetables, fruit and whole grains, and combine them with a healthy protein like nut butters or low-fat dairy products.
- Have snack foods prepped and ready ahead of time. Put them in see-through containers in front of the fridge for older kids to help themselves.
- Have them sit down at the table, not eat over the sink or in front of the TV, to help them be mindful and avoid grazing.
Some good options for after-school snacks (bonus: they’re great for grown-ups, too!) include …
- Apple slices or celery sticks and peanut butter
- Whole wheat tortilla wrapped around string cheese with salsa for dipping
- Mixed raw veggies like cucumber slices and pepper strips and whole wheat pita triangles with hummus
- Greek yogurt and berries
- Homemade trail mix with nuts, seeds, whole grain cereal or popcorn and dried fruit
- Banana boats: A banana spread with nut butter, with raisins sprinkled on top
- Mini whole wheat pizza or bagel bites: Whole wheat English muffin or mini bagel with pizza or spaghetti sauce and low-fat cheese toasted under the broiler till the cheese gets gooey
- Fruit parfait: Layers of yogurt and fresh fruit in a glass and topped with a little whipped cream
- Whole grain waffle with low-fat cream cheese and sliced strawberries or bananas
- Fruit and cheese kabobs: Cut cheese into cute shapes and alternate with fruit on skewers
Mimi Edgar, RD, is a clinical nutrition specialist at Prisma Health’s Life Center® Health & Conditioning Club.