Healthy alternatives for after-school snack time
The new school year is just around the corner, and with childhood obesity on the rise and an increased national focus on sensible eating, it's more important than ever to offer healthy food alternatives to kids. And not just for school lunch. Afternoon snack time is often overlooked when parents are planning meals, making it easy for families to stray away from making smart food choices.
When grocery shopping, it's important to plan in advance, keeping snack time in mind. The following five tips for keeping after-school snack time healthy should help you get started:
- Be creative. Use cookie cutters to cut fruit into fun shapes, or engage kids by having them help make fruit or vegetable kabobs.
- Stock your fridge (and freezer) sensibly. Make it easy for kids to eat healthy by avoiding the junk food aisle all together.
- Try a twist on the traditional. Frozen grapes or a banana dipped in peanut butter are more likely to tempt kids' taste buds than a simple celery or carrot stick.
- Lead by example. If your eating habits are unhealthy, it's likely that your kids' will be the same way. Make smart food choices and they will too.
- Keep the options open. Give children a variety of choices to show them that there are many ways to eat healthy, tasty food. This prevents food boredom and will encourage them to make smart snack decisions on their own.
Bypassing the junk food aisle and heading to the produce section is always a good idea. But you might be surprised to know that there are a variety of healthy alternatives in the frozen aisle, too. There is an increasing number of healthy frozen foods geared specifically toward kids' tastebuds. Dr. Praeger's Littles, for example, are all natural, bite-size veggie pancakes that come in fun-shaped broccoli, potato, sweet potato and spinach varieties. Parents pressed for time can pop them in the oven for a quick and nutrient-rich snack perfect for fueling kids' brains and bodies for an after-school sports practice or homework session.
"Parents should see snack time as an opportunity to teach kids to make smart health decisions," says Dr. Peter Praeger, a practicing cardiac surgeon and founder of Dr. Praeger's Sensible Foods. "If kids start eating good-for-you foods early in life, they're very likely to take healthy eating habits into adulthood."
On your next trip to the supermarket, consider incorporating healthy after-school snacks into your meal planning, including healthy frozen food options for kids. You'll be surprised to see how quickly kids learn that good food can be tasty, too.
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