Most kids love hearing the words “snack time.” However, unhealthy snacking habits can lead to ruined dinners, overeating, cavities, and other issues. With the right approach, though, a healthy eating routine can still include munching on nutritious foods between meals. Here are a few quick tips for parents looking to make snack time both fun and healthy for their kids.
1. Be time conscious. Obviously it’s not a good idea to give your children snacks right before dinner time. It’s good to establish regular snack times each day that are at least 1.5 hours before a meal, according to Parents.com.
2. Mix it up while keeping it nutritious. Help your kids get all of the nutrition they need by varying the snacks you give them and trying to ensure they get enough fruit, veggies, protein, and other essential foods. The USDA recommends snacks like sliced fresh fruit, cut up veggies, crackers with low-fat or fat free cheese, whole wheat bagels with peanut butter, and low-fat or fat free frozen yogurt.
3. Encourage mindful eating. Snacking while distracted (e.g., while watching TV or playing games on your smartphone) is a bad habit because it can lead you to overeat without realizing it, Parents.com cautions. Serve snacks in the kitchen and keep your kids away from the TV and other distractions to help them develop healthy eating behaviors.
4. Remember that you’re a role model. One of the best ways to promote healthy eating is to model that behavior yourself, according to KidsHealth. Eat nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables and be sure to talk about fullness. For example, you might tell your kids, “I’m feeling full, so I’ll stop eating this now.”
5. Know how to handle picky eaters. It’s not unusual for young children to reject certain foods. Picky eating is sometimes (but not always) a sign of sensory processing disorder, which can cause children to be over-sensitive to stimuli like taste, texture and smell, according to Food & Nutrition Magazine. If your child has difficulties with food as a result of sensory processing issues, pediatric occupational therapy can help them improve and function better.
At Little Steps, our pediatric professionals offer occupational therapy as well as physical therapy and speech therapy to children of all ages. To learn more about our company and the services we offer, please call 847-707-6744 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.