Back to school – get back on track with healthy snacks

By June Shannon Nutrition News   |   13th Sep 2018

Our expert dietitian Sarah Noone shares her top tips for healthy snacking

Always have fruit and vegetables handy

Vegetables and fruit are always the best snack choice as they contain vitamins and minerals, are a good source of fibre and count towards your child’s 5 a day. They are also easy to eat on the go. Sarah suggested having a bowl of easy to reach fruit at home or pre-preparing some ready-to-eat fruit and veg, like cucumber, cherry tomatoes, carrots or peppers, as a quick healthy snack that children can easily take to school.

Get creative with better -for -you snacks

Sarah suggested making healthy snacking fun by pairing tasty dips like hummus or yogurt with fruit and veggie sticks, adding chopped fresh or dried fruit and nuts to natural yogurt or chopping up some cheese and grapes to take to school in a plastic container.

 Plan and prepare in advance

Try to think about lunchbox and after school snacks for the week ahead when writing the weekly shopping list as this will help avoid those impulse snack decisions when the kids are hungry. Sarah suggested egg and soldiers, beans on a slice of wholemeal toast, a small cup of homemade soup or a small bowl of warm oat-based cereal with some chopped fruit as some healthy after school snacks.

Consider how they will take the snacks to school

According to Sarah, small Tupperware containers are great for bringing things like nuts, fresh fruit salad and dried fruit to school. “If the kids are taking snacks such as cheese or yoghurt, which need to be kept cool, I would recommend investing in a mini cool bag. They can use it for their lunch as well as their snacks,” she said.

Always check the label

It can be difficult to know how healthy a snack is just by looking at it. Luckily most packaged snacks have a nutrition label to help you decide. The best choices have a lower fat, salt and sugar content. Use the Irish Heart Foundation’s handy food shopping card  when choosing which snacks to buy your little ones, Sarah said.

Home habits

Have a bowl of fruit on display on the kitchen counter and yogurts in the front of the fridge, so your children notice the healthy options first. Keep less healthy treats out of sight.  Remember if the kids see you eating something at home, they are more likely to eat it too.

“And Remember – snacking is simply meant to keep their hunger at bay, it’s not a meal so use the Food Pyramid to guide serving size,” Sarah concluded.

 

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