Snacks and ‘healthy’ don’t often get used together in the same sentence, find especially if you have toddlers or young children. Wouldn’t it be great if they would eat healthy snacks? Just think–if they ate healthily throughout the day, help you wouldn’t be so worried about dinner. If snacks were packed with fruit and veggies (instead of all those…packets) who would worry about the odd pea at dinner time?
Well, store you know what? It can be done! Here are a few tips to help you out:
1. Offer fruit or vegetables with every snack.
Kids can’t eat what they haven’t been offered. I’ve often been surprised by my 2 year olds who have a biscuit in one hand and a slice of pear in the other and choose to eat the pear first. It doesn’t matter if they only eat a bit of the good stuff. It’s getting them used to it.
2. Have regular snack times.
These don’t have to be exact times but kids love routine and so do their tummies. As a general rule of thumb, kids (especially little ones) need to eat every 2 and a half to 3 hours.
3. Try to sit down at a table for your snack.
It’s a great way to teach your kids that it’s eating time and when they get down, it’s stopping time. Eating when we are hungry and stopping when we are full is a great lesson to learn. (It can be difficult for children to express that they are full. My kids say that their tummies hurt but what they mean is they’ve eaten enough).
4. Try to offer a mixture of things
Give them things like fruit with yoghurt, toast with cheese and apple, biscuits with fruit. Try not to offer carbohydrates by themselves, they’re full of energy but not great at keeping you feeling full. If you mix up your food groups those little tummies will stay full for longer.
5. Offer variety.
Kids aren’t great at trying new things but the more variety they have, the more is likely to get put on the ‘accepted list’! It’s difficult at first. If you’re kids aren’t keen on variety, try offering foods at different times of the day first (like a ‘lunch’ food for a snack) then move onto new foods.
6. Give them a choice.
Offer things for them to choose from, for example, dips with different types of vegetables sticks. They might not eat all the vegetable sticks, but you may be surprised at how many they will try. (This is how I got my 3 year old to try celery…gasp!)
If you offer regular healthy snacks, you don’t have to worry if they don’t eat it. It won’t be that long until the next healthy snack or meal. As with all habits, it can take a while to get into the groove. Once you have, it’s much much easier to maintain. Habits are difficult to change. When you’re in the habit they just happen. The habit of healthy eating is definitely a great one to aim for.