Now that school's in session, you're likely hearing a chorus of "I'm hungry!" as soon as your kids get home. But before you let them raid the pantry or fridge for just any old snack, keep in mind that kids need energy to focus on their schoolwork and enjoy active play. Junk food and sweet treats may shut down hunger for a short time, but empty calories don’t satisfy for long and can even cause mood swings in some children. A power snack helps kids stay full longer and gives them sustained energy to go from school to after-school activities, play dates and sports. Check out this list of great after-school snacks for kids!
The ideal power snack is like a tiny meal. It includes some protein and fat, as well as carbohydrates. Here are some ideas for healthy snacks for kids:
- Sliced apple or banana spread with peanut or almond butter
- Whole-grain crackers and carrot sticks with hummus dip
- Plain yogurt, sweetened with jam or honey, with a handful of dried fruit, nuts or granola
- Small tortilla roll-up spread with refried beans and shredded cheese
Kids are surrounded by junk food options, and they often go straight for less healthy treats when they have the urge to snack. By helping them make smarter choices, they can enjoy occasional treats without feeling deprived.
Many vending machines now stock healthier snacks, like mini protein bars and trail mix. But beware of items such as fruit-flavored gummies that appear healthy but have no real nutritional value. And teach your kids to keep portions in check, as a single bag of potato chips from a vending machine might actually contain three servings.
Power snacks provide great fuel for students’ active brains and bodies. By making sure your kids have access to healthy snacks that fill them up and give them energy, you’ll make sure they feel their best at school and at play. And by teaching your children to make smart snack choices, you’ll equip them with a skill they can use for the rest of their lives.