Smart Snacks for the After-School Munchies

by Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN on March 3, 2003 · 1 comment

The key to good snacking is good choices and serving sizes.

“I’m hungry. When’s supper?”

Many of us grew up with the idea that snacking was bad, and that mid-afternoon snacks would ruin the appetite for dinner.

This isn’t true. What and how much they eat is more important than when they eat. The key to good snacking is good choices and serving sizes.

For children, the time between lunch at school and dinner may be the longest period between meals. An after-school snack is essential for refueling—just keep it light.

A great after-school snack, especially on a cold day, is a mug of hot soup and a handful of crackers. A bowl of soup and an unlimited supply of crackers is too much. The same approach applies to grapes and cheese. A bunch of grapes, the size of your fist, and 3 to 4 dice-sized cubes of cheese is a snack size serving.

Pre-packaged snacks — pudding, gelatin dessert, cookies, small bags of popcorn or pretzels, snack-size yogurt, dixie cups, cereal bars — are all snack size. They encourage refueling without overeating.

Snacking right may be one of the keys to lifelong weight control. Research has shown that the portion sizes children are given as preschoolers are carried over into the choices they make as adults. Children who are allowed large or unlimited portions may eat until the food is gone, maybe more than they need to feel full and satisfied.

Forbidding certain foods will set you up for a power struggle. Don’t forget that when you were young, the things you often wanted the most were the things you couldn’t have. Why not compromise?

Chips in a single serving bag are reasonable. Yogurt- or chocolate-covered raisins, nuts, pretzels or graham crackers are a more nutritious spin on chocolate bars. Frozen yogurt is not only tasty, but often contributes more calcium than ice cream. Dipping cut up vegetables in salad dressing or strawberries in a little chocolate syrup can be an easy way to add more fruits and vegetables to a child’s diet.

Good snacks contribute to a child’s overall food intake — help them learn to make the best choices.

Smart Snack Choices

Baked taco chips + salsa dip
Chocolate milk
Fruit
Fruit favored yogurt
Graham crackers
Ice pops
Lowfat string cheese
Peanut butter stuffed celery
Popcorn
Pretzels
Rice cakes
Sweet baby carrots
Toasted pita chips + bean dip
Toaster waffle + jam
Whole wheat breadsticks

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Caraggio November 20, 2015 at 4:26 am

One of my favorite snckas is oatadmeal with fresh fruit. I never cared for it prior to being diagadnosed with a wheat allergy. Now I can’t get enough, because so many things can be added to it for a filladinga0snack.

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