As leaves bud and the grass greens up, America’s fields and baseball diamonds come alive as well, with kids once again enjoying outdoor sports. Along with this rise in activity comes a need to make sure they’re adequately fueled with healthy snacks.
“The more exercise they do, the more calories they’ll need,” says Wesley Delbridge, R.D.N., a national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and a school nutrition specialist. That doesn’t mean, however, that you should coax them to eat a set amount of food on a rigid schedule. “Let their hunger signals dictate when and how much they eat,” he recommends.
Think beyond three meals a day, and be prepared to provide your kids with healthy snacks at any time, Delbridge says, especially at midafternoon before they head to practice or games. If your child’s school doesn’t offer an afternoon snack time, have something ready to go right after school, he suggests. “That way, by the time they start the practice they’re ready to go and not feeling sick because they just ate.”
Every snack —and meal—should have three components: a carbohydrate, a protein and a fat, Delbridge advises. Consuming the three macronutrients together leads to what’s called delayed gastric emptying, meaning the food stays in your stomach longer and goes into your intestines slowly, causing a more gradual rise and fall of blood sugar levels. It also helps to avoid snacks and drinks with a lot of added sugar. Common culprits in kids snacks include yogurt, snack bars, juice boxes and sports drinks, Delbridge says.
These healthy snacks for kids incorporate carbs, protein and fats.
- Rollups made with lean turkey breast wrapped around a cheese stick and greens of choice Vegetables and hummus
- Apple slices with nut butter
- Homemade trail mix with nuts, dried fruit, a touch of dark chocolate
- Fresh-fruit smoothies with yogurt and ground flaxseed
- Pro tip: Add a bit of frozen cauliflower for extra (undetectable!) fiber and nutrients.
At-the-Ready Kids Snacks
Grab-and-go healthy snacks for kids that keep added sugar to a minimum.
Kashi by Kids
A panel of kid influencers helped create tasty Super Food Bites, using nutrient-heavy ingredients, such as organic chickpea flour, sweet potatoes and ground flaxseed. Each serving contains 2 grams of protein, so consider eating with yogurt or nuts.
New USDA Organic Snack Packs are a yogurt dipper with graham crackers and low-fat yogurt, no spoon required. With 3 grams of protein per serving.
These tasty protein bars meant for children provide 3 grams of fiber, 7 grams of protein from a whey and soy blend, plus 14 grams of carbohydrates for energy.