Snack time, kids! Or not? When should children snack?
Children have a higher metabolic rate than adults and they need lots of energy for growth and development, but most of the time, they may not be able to eat large amounts at mealtimes to supply these needs. That is the reason why their daily meal plan should include 2 or 3 healthy snacks.
When should children snack?
Usually, children and teens need to eat every three to four hours throughout the day to meet their energy needs. Relating to their age, the daily food plan should include 3 main meals and 2 or 3 snacks for younger children and 3 main meals and 1 or 2 snacks for older children.
The snack time should be carefully planned for a child, since random snacking can lead to some unwanted problems, such as overweight or food disorders. Accepting more often unplanned snacks can distort children’s natural instinct to experience hunger or fullness. It is well known that a snack that isn’t correctly planned can spoil child’s appetite. The best moment to offer a snack to a child is a few hours after one meal ends and about one to two hours before the next meal begins. Coordinating the snacks with meals, kids are more likely to be a healthy weight. Both meals and snacks should cover for a child a daily energy requirement of approximately 100 calories/kilogram/day, as stated by World Health Organization.
Some inexpensive, healthy snacks for your children are:
- Fresh fruit such as pears, bananas, kiwi fruit;
- Cheese cubes, slices or strings;
- Crackers or rice cakes and cheese;
- Bread- toast, rolls, baps etc;
- Small sandwiches;
- Homemade milkshake using yogurt and fruits;
- Unsweetened breakfast cereal with milk;
- Homemade soup;
- Vegetable slices, sticks or wedges;
Snacks packed with empty calories like desserts and sweetened beverages, salty snacks — i.e. potato chips, tortilla chips, pretzels – should be avoided as much as possible. You should never use this type of snacks as a reward.
Where should children snack?
Designating a certain area for the children to snack is as important as having a structured snack plan, because it teaches kids self-control and produces discipline around eating. The kitchen is the perfect place for both meals and snacks. The worst place to choose is in the front of the TV. Everybody knows that mindless munching leads to overeating, which results in unhealthy weight gain.