RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—It’s important to refuel your kid after school with smart, healthy snacks. Sure, his or her school day is over, but it’s been hours since lunch, and dinnertime is still a ways off. Healthy snacks for kids will satisfy their hunger, keep them from filling up on empty calories before dinner, and give them the nutrients they need to help them focus on after-school activities and homework. Here are some great options.
Whole grains are excellent brain boosters, making them a go-to ingredient in healthy snacks for kids. A snack featuring whole wheat bread (or whole grain tortillas, crackers, or English muffins) comes with enriched flour that contains folate. This B vitamin helps form memory cells in the brain. Folate has long been touted as an important nutrient for pregnant women and for the early neural development of babies. But it turns out the vitamin’s brain-building effects may continue into childhood, helping to form our memory centers. What’s more, whole grains are a good source of certain B vitamins that improve alertness.
Low-fat milk and cheese are two other brilliant after-school energy sources. Low-fat dairy is a super source of protein, vitamin D, and phosphorus, and also plays an important role in our bodies’ production of insulin. A diet rich in low-fat dairy also may protect children from obesity.
If yogurt is a family favorite, plain yogurt is always a better option in healthy snacks for kids than flavored versions. The added "fruit" in many fruit-flavored yogurts is mostly sugary fruit syrup. Keep favorite real-fruit “all fruit” jam or preserves handy for your child to add to yogurt; for extra protein, make it creamy Greek yogurt. For other good sources of protein, keep plenty of tuna salad, hard-cooked eggs, and peanut butter in the kitchen.
Fruit will help keep your child hydrated, and this—along with regular exercise—will also help him or her stay regular. Constipation is a common problem for kids, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. It can result in their feeling sluggish and lethargic, and in more severe cases, anxious and unfocused. Speaking of hydration, since it’s hard to know how much water your kids are drinking during the school day, offer plenty of water at snack time, as well as at mealtime.
Published on: September 29, 2010
Updated on: September 30, 2010