“Mom, I’m hungry,” says your son. It’s been hours since he ate lunch, and there are still a few hours before dinnertime. Seems like a snack’s in order.
But you don’t want to give your child just any kind of snack after school. After a long day of learning (and with homework on the horizon), help replenish his energy with the best kind of snack.
So what makes a perfect snack? You want snacks that give your kids quick energy but also keep them satisfied and full until their next meal.
It’s All About Combinations
While a piece of fruit might seem like a quick, easy and healthy snack, it won’t keep your kids full for long. Same goes for any type of carbohydrate, including bagels, crackers and pretzels.
For the perfect snack, you want to pair together a combination of food groups. Ideally, to provide both a burst of energy and a longer lasting feeling of fullness, a snack should include a carbohydrate, a protein and some healthy fat.
Keep in mind that not all carbohydrates are created equal. You’ll want to choose whole grains, fruits or vegetables as the carb in a healthy snack.
Many foods contain both protein and healthy fats, so your choices there are plentiful. You want to look for foods that have at least 5 grams of protein and no more than 10 to 12 grams of fat. Greek yogurt, peanut butter, hummus, cheese and nuts are good options.
The combination snack has some scientific backing — a 2012 study published in the journal Pediatrics found that kids who were given cheese and vegetables as a snack rather than potato chips needed 72 percent fewer calories to feel satisfied.
Some Snacks to Try
Looking for a few good snacks to have on hand after school? Try out these:
- Plain or lightly salted popcorn + a serving of cheese
- Granola bar + a handful of grapes
- Celery + a serving of nut butter + raisins (Remember Ants on a Log?!)
- Apple slices + Greek yogurt (Can be used a dip!)
- Whole-grain pita or whole-grain pretzels + a serving of hummus
- Trail mix of whole-grain granola cereal + a serving of nuts + freeze-dried fruit
Add a little fun to the afternoon snack routine with fruit/vegetable and cheese kebabs — on a straw or coffee stirrer, alternate pieces of fruit or vegetables with pieces of cheese.
And as a bonus: If you sneak one of the kids’ snacks for yourself, it’ll be good for you…and delicious!