Think all snacks are light, nutritious and won’t be detrimental to a healthy diet? Think again. With obstacles such as the misleading 100-calorie packs and sugar-laden munchies, it is imperative to be aware of what you are feeding your kids. We recently held a chat party with dietitians Toby Amidor (of Toby Amidor Nutrition and Food Network’s Healthy Eats) and Sheila Viswanathan (resident GoodGuide dietitian) to chat with parents about the smartest snacks to feed their kids. Edible Arrangements and Reuseit Store also joined the fun and gave away some prizes! Here is a recap of what we learned:
When is snack time for your family? Mid-morning? Afternoon?
- The majority agreed that snack time was right after school!
- Many also commented that snack time was multiple times a day: mid-morning, mid-afternoon and evening.
What are some healthy/creative snacks you always keep around?
- Nearly everyone commented that they always keep the house stocked with fresh fruit & veggies. It’s apple season, so pick your own!
- Cut them into fun shapes to get kids excited (inspired by Edible Arrangements)
- A good tip: Keep that skin on fruit because its packed with nutrients. If you’re worried about pesticides, let your kids use scrub gloves to give fruits a good shine.
- An idea from Toby: pitted dates stuffed with an almond. Try sprinkling a little powdered sugar on top!
Are there snacks you avoid even if your kids beg for them?
- Fruit snacks might be gluten-free, but they are also high in sugar. Consult GoodGuide before serving to children.
- Everyone agreed: avoid trans fat and added sugar, like high fructose corn syrup!
- Products with artificial coloring, like yogurt, were also a big concern (some colorings have been linked to ADHD in kids). In Toby’s words, “My answer…cows don’t make purple milk to make purple yogurt!”
- If kids beg for french fries, try a healthier alternative and bake them in the oven. Even try other veggies like zucchini and sweet potato!
- Use the GoodGuide Toolbar to avoid food with controversial ingredients.
What do you feed kids to fuel them up before after-school activities?
- Fruit was the popular answer again, especially oranges.
- Yogurt was another common response – especially Greek Yogurt. Check for gums and other stabilizers to identify the least processed products. Or use GoodGuide!
- Sheila suggested adding 1/2 salsa to 1/2 Greek Yogurt for a fun veggie dip.
- Toby suggested creating homemade trail mix with your kiddo’s favorites – whole grain cereal, nuts, seeds, and/or dried fruit.
What portable snacks do you pack when you are on-the-go?
- Almonds and other nuts are easy to keep around and aren’t messy.
- String cheese is also a great choice!
- Always have water handy, preferably in a reusable bottle.
- Be wary of the seemingly easy-to-stash 100 cal packs. Devoid of nutrition and an excuse for wasteful packaging!
How has this discussion influenced the snacks you will offer kids tomorrow?
- The overwhelming response? Read product labels better (hint: that is what GoodGuide is for) and avoid things such as added sugar.
- Offer them tons of fruit and veggies. Try new, creative and healthy dips to spice things up.