Kids grow up fast. Their bodies are continually changing. So good, healthy and nutritious dietary intake is essential to support growing bodies and maintain good dental and oral health. And this includes snacks.
Choosing healthy snacks for your child doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are some tips to help you make it even easier to choose healthy snacks for your child:
1. Start with fruit and veg
All fruits and vegetables have different health benefits. But most kids do not eat the recommended amount of these nutrient-dense foods. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables each day is a great way to make sure your child is getting an array of vitamins and minerals.
Snack times offer a great opportunity your increase your child's fruit and vegetable intake. Offer them on their own, try these tasty combinations (pairing with protein will keep them fuller for longer) or experiment with your own:
Carrot sticks, hummus and pita bread
Pear slices with natural yoghurt and honey
Sultanas and cheese sticks
Cherry tomato halves, cheddar cheese and crackers
Celery pieces filled with nut butter
Cucumbers with cream cheese
2. Consider immune-building snacks
Building and supporting your child’s immunity is important, especially during these winter months. Add in winter sports, the stress of school, and everything else that goes along with being a kid and we can see why prioritising your child's immunity jumps up the list.
These Berry Immune Gummies by NutraOrganics pack many wonderful immune-building goodies into a kids’ snack. And we have it on good authority (from Kasse’s beautiful nephew) that they’re a total winner!
Here are some nutrients which are important for the immune system and a couple of examples of where to find them: vitamin C (citrus fruits, strawberries, blackcurrants), vitamin E (sunflower seeds, almonds, green leafy veg), vitamin A (eggs, fortified breakfast cereals, orange/yellow vegetables and fruits), vitamin D (oily fish, egg yolks), folic acid (broccoli, chickpeas), iron (tofu, cashews, beans), selenium (brazil nuts, seafood), zinc (meat, shellfish, legumes, seeds, nuts, dairy).
3. Look out for hidden sugars
Sometimes snacks which seem healthy can actually contain hidden sugars. Occasional treats are ok - we recommend an “everything in moderation” approach - but we don’t want you to be caught out by surprise sugars when you think you’re offering your child healthy snacks.
Most of the sugar we consume today comes from processed foods, which have been cleverly hidden by its manufacturers. The World Health Organisation recommends limiting sugar consumption to less than 10% of total energy intake (20-25g per day for kids) as part of a healthy diet, and limiting it to less than 5% of total energy intake for additional health benefits.
Here are some common ‘healthy’ snacks which you may not know include sugars:
Dried fruit - Fresh fruit contains sugar too, but dried fruits have much more by volume because the water has been removed.
Granola bars - Many include sweeteners like corn syrup, sugars and sugar syrups, honey, dextrose, and fructose. Choc chips and yoghurt or chocolate coated bars contain even more sugars.
Canned fruit - Look for the ones in water or juice and not syrup as these will reduce the amount of refined sugar your kids are consuming
4. Plan snacks in advance
When you grab snacks on the go there are often less options available, so you have to reach for the bag of chips or sugar-laden muffin. Planning snacks in advance and packing them the morning or night before gives you more control to make healthy snack choices.
Cancer Council NSW has created an online Lunch Box Builder which might just be a game-changer! It’s an easy, fun tool which breaks down lunchbox planning into six sections (breads and cereals, vegetables and salads, meat and alternatives, fruit, dairy and water) and provides healthy recipe ideas for each. Older kids might enjoy helping you to do the planning with this one. But Nikki is also loving it for planning on-the-go snacks and lunches for her energetic toddler.
5. Don't forget water!
What your child drinks will also affect how many calories and nutrients they consume. Water is an important no-sugar nutrient which our bodies need to keep working at their best. Offering water regularly throughout the day is important to replace the large amounts of water lost through your child's daily activities.
Drinking enough water also supports healthy teeth! It encourages your child to produce more saliva (...bear with us) which plays a number of valuable roles:
Saliva helps wash away food residue from teeth
The minerals in saliva, such as calcium and phosphate, prevent against and heal damage from tooth decay
People with dry mouth are more likely to get tooth decay and decay along the gum line
Do you have questions about your child's dental health?
If you'd like to know more about how you can best support your child's dental and oral health, call us on 08 9450 2073 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also reach us on Facebook or Instagram.