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    Healthy Snacking: Helping Your Kids Help Themselves

    By Sara Richmond Walls     

    What do you think of when you hear the word “snack”? Candy, chips, chocolate? Snacks are those in-between-meal bites to eat that help us get through the mid-morning and mid-afternoon lulls in energy. Snacks are especially important to children, but choosing the right snacks is equally important.

    Choose Wisely

    One of the most essential steps in ensuring that your son or daughter is partaking in healthy snacking is to choose nutritious snacks. Often, kids associate “healthy” with foods that don’t taste good. One way to prevent this is to allow them to be a part of the decision making. Give them samples of different fruits and vegetables and let them decide which ones suit their taste buds the best. If they enjoy crunchy food, consider graham crackers, popcorn, etc. If they are fanatical about sweets, consider yogurt, fruit and granola parfaits.

    When choosing snacks, pair items from different food groups from the food pyramid together. For example, dip apple slices in peanut butter. Top wheat crackers with cheese slices. These combinations give them the essential nutrients they need while also keeping their energy up during the day.

    Regulate Snack Times

    A great way to ensure that your kids get enough energy to make it through the day, but not so much food that they can’t eat their meals is to regulate snack time. A good rule of thumb is a mid-morning snack and then a mid-afternoon snack. Most kids are at school during the day, leaving parents little control over when their students eat their snacks. If there is no scheduled snack time, encourage your child to eat the snack when they feel hungry.

    Don’t Use Bribery

    One of the worst things you can do is use snack items such as candy to bribe your child. This is destructive on several different levels. On the one hand, you are adding a value to food, and often to the wrong foods. In addition, they are learning to do the things you ask so that they can get a cookie, not because they are the right things to do.

    Do More than Talk the Talk

    Here is the kicker: You can’t just talk the talk. You have to walk the walk. Trying to instill healthy eating in your children is difficult when you’re downing a bag of chips while watching a movie. Remember what your actions say about you and your own self-control. Keep a close watch on the example you are setting.

    Written by Sara Richmond WallsRate this article:

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