How to Combine Weekend Family Activities with Healthy Snacking
Why children need healthy snacks
Children require more calories than adults, so giving them only three meals a day may not enough. They are more physically active than adults since their bodies are constantly growing, but aside from that, they have smaller stomach capacities compared to adults; therefore, they may need to eat two or more snacks between meals so they can meet their nutritional requirements.1
Junk foods have a high calorie value and a low nutritional value. Eating unhealthy snacks may cause children to be overweight and increase the risk of developing chronic diseases later on in life, like hypertension, cancer, and type 2 diabetes.1 Also, unhealthy snacks could children an energy rush that can make them irritable and difficult to deal with (we all know the scenarios and consequences of a sugar rush); therefore, it is good to choose healthy snacks for your children that provides healthy calories.1
Parents’ diet habits have an influence on their children; they learn how to cook and can imitate nutrition behavior.2 Meal times have an impact on how children eat as they grow into adulthood and start to make their own food choices. Children whose parents eat fruits and vegetables with them tend to eat more of those foods than children who don’t eat with their parents.4 When children learn healthy habits, it influences their food choices as adults, ensuring they have a lifetime of good health and free of lifestyle diseases mentioned above.1
A strong family finds an opportunity to enjoy quality time together. The more time spent together, the better chance of bonding and sharing experiences. Doing chores or having meals together sends a strong message of love to your spouse and your children.2 Family meals help improve achievements and self-esteem, and is a key to raising confident and healthy children. Eating together with your children is meaningful and makes their interest in nutrition soar; teenagers tend to eat fun foods with their friends and healthy meals with their families. Children who eat with their families tend to have a lower chance of being overweight.1
Tips for Healthy Snacking
Eat a rainbow - give children snacks of natural foods like fruits and veggies with a variety of colors
Kids get a significant amount of calories from snacks, so they should be healthy. Try to choose snacks from fruits, vegetables, and grain products as the primary choices. Most snacks are highly processed and have added sugar, which have empty calories.2
Rule of 5-2-1-0
Follow the rule of 5-2-1-0. It states that you should give your children 5 or more fruits and veggies serving, 2 hours or less of TV time, 1 hour of physical activity, and 0 sugary drinks.3 Encourage them eat snacks on the table and not when they are watching TV, as they tend to eat much more when watching TV.3
Portion control is important. Serve the right portion of snacks based on the age and activity level of your child. In case you buy snacks, check the labels for added sugar. Fill their plates with fruits and veggies when they crave sweet stuff, because these have plenty of natural sugars. You can make desserts with fruits (like sorbet) or make fruit smoothies.2
Make meal plans a priority.
During the weekend, make time to sit down for a meal and do fun activities. Some of the fun activities you can do with your children include visiting a fire station, the zoo, playgrounds, or go for picnics.1 Use this time to talk with them, monitor their food, and reinforce good eating habits. Prepare healthy meals and explain the importance of healthy eating to them.
Get them involved in meal planning
Have fun grocery shopping with your children, as you teach them how to read labels and gather foods for making meals at home. You can also plant vegetables and herb garden with them. It can be a fulfilling and teachable moment for them to plant, maintain, and harvest the plants.4
Make snacking fun and creative
There are endless ideas for kid friendly snacks. You can use creativity to make children eat veggies by creating a scene made of veggies to make it appealing to them. Use broccoli for trees, yellow pumpkin for the sun, and you can let them to make apple slices into a car and use toothpicks on grapes as wheels. Be sure to check out Pinterest for ideas.
Fruits - carry whole fruits when going for picnics. A bowl of apples and banana will come in handy. Our freeze dried bananas, pineapples, peaches, cherries, blueberries, mangoes and apples (and so many more!) will come in handy as they eat.
Smoothies - make smoothies using our freeze dried bananas, mangoes, papaya, blackberries, raspberries, or strawberries. You can also add them yogurt or milk. Natural smoothies are healthy, since they don’t have added sugar.
Veggies - Hide veggies in other foods. Shred or grate veggies, such as carrots, and add them to stews or casserole. Freeze dried veggies are good since kids love to eat them from the pack. Be sure to try out our freeze dried broccoli, peas, corn, or even potatoes.
Use the chance when out for picnics to teach them healthy eating habits so they will use the skills throughout their lives. Avoid highly processed foods and pick whole grains and natural foods for meals, as well as snacks. Click here to purchase our healthy snacking packs.