Healthy snacks grow healthy kids

Kids have big nutrition needs and small stomachs. Healthy snacks can help.

Peanut butter spread on apple slices.

Peanut butter spread on apple slices.

Kids love to snack, and fortunately eating between meals is important to a child’s growth and nutrition. Children are growing and developing rapidly. Active kids have an increased need for energy as well as other essential nutrients, but they have small stomachs. They need to eat adequate calories but can’t eat large amounts at a time. Eating meals and snacks through the day helps children get all of the nutrients they need.

If children get too hungry they may become cranky or find it difficult to concentrate on a task. Healthy snacks help to satisfy hunger between meals and boost energy. They can also round out the diet, ensuring that children are getting all of the nutrients they need to fuel their growth and development. Learning to eat and enjoy healthy snacks encourages kids to develop healthy eating habits.        

A nutritious snack is a healthy snack. This means that each bite contributes to the child’s intake of nutrients. Plan ahead in order to provide quick, easy and healthy snacks. Keep foods on hand from each of the five food groups as shown in MyPlate, a guide to healthy eating. Mix and match the nutrients at snack time by teaching children to choose snacks that include foods from at least two different food groups.

Save time and promote enthusiasm for eating healthy snacks by including the children in planning and shopping for foods that will become their snacks. Many snacks are simple and the children can even help prepare them. Remember to keep snacks small and healthy. Michigan State University Extension offers these quick and easy ideas to enjoy.

  • Granola bars
  • Trail mix
  • Crackers and cheese
  • String cheese
  • Low-fat yogurt with fruit
  • Celery and peanut butter
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Low-fat microwave popcorn
  • Snack size low-fat pudding
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole-grain bread
  • Applesauce or fruit in a single serving cup
  • Animal, graham or whole grain crackers, plain or with peanut butter
  • Raisins, pretzels, dried fruits, dried cereals
  • Shakes with low-fat milk or yogurt and fruit
  • English muffin pizzas with vegetables
  • Canned fruit in its own juice

Healthy snacks are part of a well-balanced and nutritious diet for children. Help your child learn to choose, prepare and say “yes” to healthy snacks every day. Healthy snacks grow healthy kids.

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