Showing posts with label fruit snacks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fruit snacks. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Importance of Healthy Snacking

Snacks are often viewed as special treats, only to be enjoyed on occasion. Actually, when snack ideas are healthy, they can be an important part of a well-balanced diet. These small meals aren't just for children anymore; adults can benefit from snacks, too. Food snacks are especially helpful during the warm summer months when activity levels are high and dehydration can be a concern.


Why snack?

The best snacks provide vitamins and nutrients your body needs throughout the day. This is particularly true for children who can’t consume much in one sitting due to their smaller stomachs. These mini meals help keep energy levels up, especially during activity. In addition, snacks can even help you consume less. But, the key to healthy snacking is wise food choices.

What’s a healthy snack?

According to nutrition experts at webmd.com, the best snack choices offer a good combination of carbohydrates, protein and fat. Examples of healthy snack ideas include: trail mix, low-fat yogurt with granola and fruit and a piece of fruit served with an ounce of cheese and a handful of nuts.  When considering fresh fruit as a snack, a 4-ounce serving offers fiber, vitamins and minerals as well as carbohydrates. Fruits with a low glycemic rating, a number that indicates how quickly blood sugar rises after eating, are best.

Good fruit snacks include:

  • Cherries
  • Grapefruit
  • Kiwi
  • Oranges
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Plums
  • Cantaloupe
  • Strawberries

During the hot days of summer, frozen fruit makes an extra special treat.  While kids may prefer ice cream sundaes, sugary frozen drinks, muffins or French fries, these snack ideas don’t deliver the vitamins and minerals the body needs.


How to encourage healthy snacking:

  • Be Creative:  If kids enjoy a cool glass of lemonade, for instance, offer them water with lots of fresh lemon added as a healthier substitute. They’ll still be satisfied with the refreshing lemon taste of the beverage without all the added sugar. If it’s ice cream they find appealing, opt for frozen treats that are less than 150 calories each. Fudge bars, fruit bars, sherbert and frozen yogurt in tubes are all healthier frozen snack choices.
  • Make It:  Kids are more likely to enjoy healthy snacks if they take part in making them. Ants on a Log is a great example of a healthy recipe that kids can create. Comprised of celery sticks, filled with peanut butter and topped with raisins, it’s a simple, quick and fun recipe for kids to enjoy. Check out allrecipes.com for other great snack ideas, such as Roll-up Salad, Bunny Food and Apple Ladybugs.
  • Lead By Example: While adults may prefer less than healthy snacks, they usually understand the importance of healthy choices. With children, the best choices are not always so obvious. Yet, kids do mimic what they see. If the adults around them choose healthy snack foods, chances are they will follow.
  • Keep It Simple: Sliced red, green and yellow peppers as well as baby carrots make great snacks for summer. Healthy smoothies are another great snack option. Popcorn, wholewheat bagels and crackers and cheese are additional ideas to keep in mind. Visit www.mayoclinic.com for additional snack ideas.

As with meals, keeping snacks varied and interesting makes them more appealing. With a little creativity and planning, health snacking can quickly become an important part of your family’s diet.

Kathy Rembisz 
Contributing Writer