Teaching kids to make healthy food choices requires more than simply planning three square meals a day. Making sure your kids are eating balanced meals is a great start, but the importance of healthy snacking should not be overlooked.
Why Kids Need to Snack
Kids require more calories than adults. There are two main reasons for this:
- Kids are typically more physically active than adults.
- Kids' bodies are constantly growing.
According to HealthyChildren.org, children can't meet their high caloric needs at mealtime alone because they have smaller stomachs than adults. Allowing kids to eat two to three snacks per day between meals helps them fulfill their daily nutritional requirements.
The Value of Healthy Snacks
When choosing a snack for your child, it's also important to consider if the food provides the right kind of calories. It's easy to let kids have some chips or cookies when they get home from school, but letting kids have junk food can actually defeat the purpose of snacking.
Many packaged and processed foods provide empty calories with low nutritional value, which means they do very little to satisfy hunger and many times, they can actually increase appetite. If that increased appetite leads to more unhealthy snacking, children can become overweight and potentially develop serious health concerns.
There's also the crash factor to consider. Unhealthy snacks that give kids a sugar high inevitably end with a crash in energy that usually makes them irritable and difficult to deal with.
Lastly, making sure kids eat healthy snacks can shape how they eat as adults. If kids learn to enjoy nutritious food at an early age, it can influence the type of food they choose to purchase as adults, which can lead to a lifetime of good health.