How to Combine Weekend Family Activities with Healthy Snacking
As a parent, you have a busy schedule, making it difficult to sit down regularly for a family meal. Eating out and to-go food are now more convenient than ever, but they may have adverse health effects. It is important to teach children early enough about healthy eating; however, it is not just the meals that are the foundation for healthy eating, but also snacking. Sadly, snacking is often overlooked, and children tend to snack on unhealthy choices.2
Why children need healthy snacks
Children require more calories than adults, so three meals a day may not be enough. They are more physically active than adults since their bodies are constantly growing. In addition their smaller stomach capacities may necessitate the need to eat two or more snacks between meals so they can meet their nutritional requirements.1
Eating unhealthy snacks may cause children to be overweight and increase the risk of developing chronic diseases later 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. Therefore, it is good to choose healthy snacks for your children that provide healthy calories.1
Parents’ diet habits have an influence on their children; they learn how to cook and can imitate nutrition behavior.2 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
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. It’s been found that teenagers tend to eat fun foods with their friends and healthy meals with their families. Additionally, 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 a colorful array of natural snacks like fruits and veggies
Kids get a significant number of calories from snacks, so they should be healthy. Try to choose snacks from fruits, vegetables, and grain products. Most snacks are highly processed and have added sugar, which means 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 servings, 2 hours or less of TV time, 1 hour of physical activity, and 0 sugary drinks.3 Encourage them eat snacks at the table and not when they are watching TV, as they tend to eat much more when watching TV.3
Serve the right portion of snacks based on the age and activity level of your child. Check the labels for added sugar. Fill their plates with fruits and veggies when they crave sweet stuff, since 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 picnics.1 Use this time to talk with them, monitor their food, and reinforce good eating habits.
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 gardens 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. Convince your children to eat veggies by creating a scene made of veggies to make it appealing to them, using 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. Pinterest is great 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!) are great options.
Smoothies - make smoothies using our freeze dried bananas, mangoes, papaya, blackberries, raspberries, or strawberries. You can also add them to yogurt or milk. Natural smoothies are healthier, 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 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 peruse our plentiful snacking options.
- Branden Evans