Trying to get your children to eat a healthy and well balanced diet can sometimes feel like aiming to spin plates, you cannot take your eye off the ball or everything can come crashing down. You can buy in all the right foodstuffs but once they get to school or playing with friends, then the lure of the fizzy drinks and junk food rears its ugly head. Fortunately, healthy snacks for kids can become part and parcel of family life and set them on the path of eating well that will stand them in stead for years to come using the following tips.
- Get them involved with the preparation
Make it a fun activity for them to become involved in and challenge them to make up their own healthy snack bowls. Put out a number of fresh ingredients such as chopped fruits and berries along with plain yoghurt and honey and get them to make up their own tasty bowl for lunch or mid-morning snack. If your children are older, they can make up their own fruit kebabs or give them a ready-made healthy gluten and sugar free snack mix that does not require baking or blending.
- Check out the packaging
There are a lot of hidden extras (usually sugar and fats) that go into snack meals so makes sure you check out the ingredients carefully. Healthy kid-friendly snacks should be made from natural ingredients without artificial additives. Gluten free and dairy free foods are best for younger children to digest so become ingredient savvy when you shop.
- Prepare and make it yourself
While it is certainly slightly more time consuming to bake, and prepare your own snacks, at least you will know exactly what goes into them. Homemade snacks mean you are in charge of portion control as well,so if making a healthy tray bake, slice them up into bite sized portions. There are some excellent recipes online which involve making cakes from vegetables and they are surprising moist and delicious without all the extra sugar a manufactured product can have. DIY healthy snack mixes are also a great way to save on time and effort while ensuring children are getting a healthy deal.
- Give them a choice
Being able to pick and mix means they do have some control over what they are going to eat. Carrot and cucumber slices with a choice of hummus or other dip with the veggies cut into fun shapes makes a difference to the normal offerings. Invest in some fun crockery and cutlery to make eating an occasion or when the weather is right, have a picnic in the garden with a range of snacks on offer.
Make sure that you keep a bowl of fruit out so that they can help themselves as well during the day and try some variety with the fruit choices. Apple slices dipped in yogurt and sprinkled with a little cinnamon is a fun and tasty snack that they will not have come across before so pile on the novelty factor! And don’t forget to have a get out plan in place because they are not going to like everything you offer at first. With the vegetable crudités, offer a dip they like so that you are getting them to try something new.
- Parental influence is important
This is where you lead by example because it is no good expecting your children to eat healthily if you are not prepared to do the same. Plan your weekly menus to include healthy options and new dishes which provide all the nutrients that growing children need. Opening their eyes to different ways of eating and giving praise when they do choose a healthy snack is the key to developing healthy eaters.
In the same way you model other forms of good behaviour when around your children, the same goes at meal and snack times. Make time as a family to sit and enjoy the food that has been prepared and never force or chastise a picky eater. Encouragement and praise will go a long way when it comes to moving your children over to healthy snacks.