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While many parents believe afternoon snacks spoil dinner appetites, it turns out snacks are good for kids to help them grow and develop, as well as stay focused on schoolwork. For optimal health and nutrition, it’s important for them to fuel properly throughout the day so they are prepared to learn and participate in after-school activities.
Snacking is also a way to add healthy and nutritious foods into your child’s diet. It’s an opportunity to include a variety of macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein and fat. Although offering your child an apple as a snack is an excellent source of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), it may not be filling because it doesn’t offer a mix of macronutrients. Including some protein and fat keeps stomachs fuller for longer. Try adding some peanut butter for dipping or pair with string cheese to really fuel your child throughout the afternoon.
It’s also a good idea to think about your child’s preferences. Make sure to always offer something that’s considered a safe food—something your child will reliably eat. If your child is hooked on Cheetos, offer a few of them in combination with healthier food options, such as fruit, cut-up veggies, sliced turkey and guacamole. When you give your kids options, they make the choices of what they eat, which helps them feel positive about healthy eating and sets them up for long-term success.
Ashlee Roffe, MS, RD, Nutrition Director at Swedish Hospital, part of NorthShore University HealthSystem, said after-school snacks don’t need to be grand or complicated. Here are eight after-school snack ideas that are simple, healthy and delicious:
If you’re interested in learning more about healthy snack options for kids, check out MyPlate.gov for tips and recipes.
NorthShore can also help parents learn more about nutrition for kids. Our pediatricians can point you in the right direction or give a referral to a registered dietitian. We also offer community classes to help families learn more about eating healthier together. For more information, visit us online or call 847.926.6800.