Why Are After School Snacks So Important For Kids?
Do your kids head straight for the refrigerator as soon as they get home from school?
If you answered yes then they are just like the majority of school aged children. It is important to understand why children need to snack more often than adults.
Children have much smaller stomachs than adults and therefore need to eat on a more frequent schedule. Most children eat lunch anywhere from 11am to 1pm and by the time they arrive home after school they are very hungry. This is due to children needing to eat every 3-4 hours.
Serving an after school snack will help to teach children to maintain energy and refuel with healthy foods not empty calorie foods that will cause them to crash when the sugar wears off. Snacking will also help them to stay full until dinner is served.
So, what are some good snack options? Most of the snacks should be fruits, vegetables and whole grains. This will help children to make good food choices that will continue as they get older. These food choices will also help to prevent any type of diseases later in life. Healthy after school snacks will also help with portion control and curb over eating tendencies.
Snacks such as raw veggies, apples, bananas, oranges, cheese sticks, grapes, strawberries, nuts and yogurt are all good ideas. These can be made ahead of time and put in kid friendly containers to be opened and consumed.
When children come home after school and are starving they are not going to wait for a snack to be made. They want something ready to eat now which is why a lot of kids like to eat junk food because there is no preparation needed. Healthy snacks do not need to take a great deal of time. Prepping and planning ahead are important to delivering a healthy after school snack.
Snacks are important whatever age your children are. For younger children having a snack will ensure they do not become cranky before dinner is made and it will help them to maintain getting the necessary nutrients for the day. When older children eat snacks after school it helps to make sure they do not over eat when dinner is served.
Snacks also help children to understand portion sizes of food. A snack should not be more than 250 calories and healthy snacks can be filling. Portion sizes help children to maintain a healthy weight and also teach them good habits when choosing snacks as they get older.
Snack time after school does not have to be a struggle. If everyone gets involved and healthy snacks are encouraged this routine will become second nature. Even if your children are accustomed to grabbing anything to eat it is never too late to start a new routine.
The choices children make now will carry through into adulthood. Make yourself a role model and show your children how much fun it is to prepare the snacks and enjoy eating what you have prepared. If healthy choices are offered soon enough your children will be reaching for an apple instead of a bag of chips.