For most parents, picking and packing the right snack for children is a daunting challenge. We know that snacks play an important role in managing kids' hunger levels and boosting nutrition. So, let’s look into some tried and tested methods that can benefit both parents and children.
As we know, the nutritious snacks should be low in sugar, saturated fat, and salt, and be high in vitamins, minerals and fibre to meet the adequate nutrients for the day. It can be a fresh fruit or a vegetable as an instant choice or foods like sandwiches, multigrain toast, rolls, frankie and protein choices.
Tips to pick and pack healthy snacks
- Use snack times as an opportunity to increase your child’s fruits and vegetable intake.
- Use aluminum foils, easy disposable containers and tissues to pack the snacks instead of plastic containers. This way you can ensure healthy nutrients.
- Avoid processed and instant foods like juices, squash, candies, instant mixes which is loaded with preservatives, additives, sugars and salts that is not suitable for child’s stomach.
- Keep a range of healthy food items handy at home or while on the move - sliced or cut fresh vegetables and fruit, nuts and dry fruits, yogurts as a dip, hummus, energy bars (for older children) cherries and cheese sticks, non-cream crackers, biscuits, corns or home-baked varieties.
- Spice up their dishes with delicious toppings like paneer, cheese, nuts chopped or sprinkling with cinnamon, mixed herbs, garam masala. For eg. instead of plain dosa or idli - add a twist by sprinkling generous dose of grated paneer or cheese, pureed spinach or carrot, etc. You will see your child relishing them.
Pay attention to portion sizes and timing of snacks. Let them not munch too frequently.
Snacking well can be a challenge, especially once they become independent with food choices. But if you've set the stage right from the start — offering mostly nutritious choices at home and encouraging good alternatives — they're more likely to reach for something healthy when a hunger pang strikes.
The author is Priyamvadha Chandramouli - founder, Alma Nourisher, child nutrition expert and wellness consultant.