Why Include snacks in children’s days?
Snacking throughout the day ensures that children’s energy levels remain high between meals.
Planning snack time
The ideal time to offer a snack is approximately half-way between meals, and, at least two hours before the next meal. This ensures that children will be hungry for their next meal.
Snack time also gives the perfect opportunity to take a few minutes’ break and talk about food with your students. Great ideas for conversations include talking about where food comes from, unfamiliar foods or everyone’s favourite food.
Did they get enough to eat?
Many factors affect children’s hunger and appetite from day to day. Only they know how much food they need. For instance, children who have had a very nourishing breakfast may be less hungry for their morning snack than children who ate a smaller breakfast.
What is a nutritious snack?
Snacks for school age children can consist of one or more foods. The choice of specific foods may vary depending on how long it is until the next meal. For example, a piece of fruit is ideal for a morning snack if lunch is soon; while a more substantial snack such as whole-grain crackers and hummus make a great afternoon snack if dinner is not going to be for awhile.
For young children, offer a snack that includes a source of carbohydrate and a source of protein.
- The carbohydrates immediately satisfy childrens’ hunger.
- The protein keeps them full until the next meal.
Foods that promote dental health are good snack choices because brushing is not always an option outside the home. Foods that are low in acid and sugar and are not sticky are smart choices (e.g., fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, yogurt, cheese, legumes, seeds and whole-grain products). In addition hard cheese, like cheddar, has a protective effect on teeth.
Great snack ideas that pair carbohydrates and protein
- Raw vegetables (e.g. carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, bell pepper) with small cubes of cheddar cheese or yogurt dip
- Unsweetened applesauce with plain sunflower or pumpkin seeds
- Whole grain muffins or cereal with milk
- Whole grain crackers or bread with hummus
- Cut up fresh fruit with yogurt or cottage cheese
- Apple slices with nut butter or yogurt dip
NB Some foods such as nuts and seeds my be choking hazard for young children