Snacking has become a serious hobby for many children. They eat when they’re bored – setting the foundation for unhealthy eating habits going forward. This feeds into the growing cases of childhood obesity.
Controlling snacking while making sure children are eating when they are hungry can be a stressful balance for parents to find. Anne-Marie De Beer, Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Health and Wellness Manager at Nestlé shares some simple guidelines we can apply to our children’s snacking habits to help them build healthy eating habits.
“For children, snacks supplement meals. Because they have much smaller stomachs, they may need to eat more often than adults. Teenagers who are active and growing rapidly need the calories that snacks supply,” says Anne- Marie.
While snacking between meals can be contrary to some eating plans and diets, it makes up an important part of children’s diets and offers an opportunity for parents to supplement the nutrients children get from their formal meals.
“Preparing easy snacks and recipes together is a good way to lay a strong nutritional foundation in children. Getting children involved in the preparation of meals leads them to adopt healthier eating habits – in short, their diet quality is higher, with children more inclined to eat fruits and vegetables,” she adds.
Choose snacks carefully
The portion size for your child’s snack will depend on several factors including your child’s age, the size of their actual meals and how many meals and snacks they eat.
While following your child’s hunger cues and allowing them to eat when they are hungry, you can enforce healthy eating habits by offering healthy, nutrient-dense snacks.
“Preparing easy snacks and recipes together is a good way to lay a strong nutritional foundation in children. Getting children involved in the preparation of meals leads them to adopt healthier eating habits – in short, their diet quality is higher, with children more inclined to eat fruits and vegetables,” says Anne- Marie.
Anne- Marie adds that convenience snacks like instant noodles can also be considered a healthy snack especially when you add vegetables and healthy toppings to them.
“Nestlé for Healthier Kids aims to support the parent in helping to add a little more goodness. For example, Nestlé Maggi Noodles could be a quick snack/meal by adding some tomato and onion relish, and for a more substantial meal, some cheese.”
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