By Susan Hansen, Extension Educator,
Snacks are an important part of the daily diet. Choosing healthy, nutritious snacks is the key. Look to the MyPyramid and MyPlate for making those choices. Choose from the five major food groups:
2) vegetable group
3) fruit group
4) dairy group
5) protein group
Snacks are intended to supplement daily meals, not replace them. If snacks are eaten within an hour before the meal, they interfere with the appetite at the meal. Planning for snacks helps make the choices easier.
Make appropriate snack choices available. Snacks are often chosen because of availability rather than preference. If cupboards are full of cookies, chips and candy, then it’s a great temptation to choose one of those foods. If fresh fruit is washed and on the counter, it is easier to choose fruit. For vegetables, have carrot or celery sticks, broccoli or cauliflower pieces ready in the refrigerator.
Snacks are important to children. When planning snacks, think about these questions.
- Does the food look and taste good?
- Is there enough (but not too much) to eat?
- Does the food provide vitamins and minerals as well as calories?
- Can the food be chewed and swallowed easily?
- Will there be a choking problem since some foods can become lodged in the throat?
- Can fingers be used to eat the food since children enjoy handling their own food?
- Is today’s snack different than yesterday’s snack?
- Is the food fun to eat?
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