Fruits and vegetables make the best snacks

Teaching kids to choose healthy snacks can be as easy as keeping fruits and vegetables at close proximity and ready to eat.

Most school-aged children need to eat two to three cups of fruits and vegetables each day.  Unfortunately, research has shown that the people are the least likely to eat the recommended daily amount of foods from the vegetable group more than any other food group.  Getting kids to choose a healthy snack sometimes takes creativity and a teachable moment or two.  Snack companies spend millions of dollars annually to market foods to children.  Some of these marketing strategies can be used to help kids see vegetables and fruits as possible snack options. 

One common strategy food companies use is to showcase products at eye level and in close proximity of high traffic areas.  Parents can use this same technique in the home to encourage healthy food choices.  A simple bowl of fresh fruits, washed and available in the refrigerator, on the table, or counter where children can self-serve may help.  For vegetables, try having a fresh tray of a variety of vegetables in the refrigerator.  Both of these techniques will make it easier all members of the household to choose fruits and vegetables as snacks.  At dinner, try serving tossed salad first or making sure that their plates are half full of vegetables and fruit.  Adding vegetables to recipes is another option.

When choosing a healthy snack remember the acronym S.N.A.C.K.

  • Simple.  Simple foods are made without a lot of sugar, salt or fats.  
  • Nutritious. Fruits and vegetables are best. Low-fat cheeses and whole grain products make for healthy snacks too. 
  • Available and affordable.
  • Colorful.  Challenge your kids to eat one color of the rainbow in fruits and vegetables each day.
  • Kid-sized.  Keep portions small and choose from one or two food groups.  Snacks are not meant to be another meal.

If your children are not fond of vegetables, start slow, be patient and keep introducing vegetables and fruits, and make sure they are easy and accessible in the home.  Look for recipes that include fruits and vegetables that they can make themselves. For more information about how to build a healthy plate for all your meals visit MyPlate.