Do your kids come in from school and make a beeline to the kitchen looking for something to eat? If so, how can you can make sure they enjoy a snack while still saving room for a healthy dinner?
Kids need less frequent snacks as they get older, but it's not surprising that most are hungry after school. Many kids eat lunch early - 11:30 or even before - and then have an afternoon of classes and maybe even an after-school activity before their next chance to eat. It's no wonder the snack food vending machine looks so appealing at the end of the day.
Depending on a child's age and after-school routine, parents might not always be able to control what their kids eat in the late afternoon. But don't throw in the towel just yet. These steps can guide kids to good after-school snacks that will be satisfying and still leave room for a nutritious dinner.
Figure Out the Timing
Put yourself in your kids' shoes and consider their eating schedules on a normal weekday. Some younger kids may have a mid-morning snack, but most older school-age kids won't. Find out: When is lunchtime? What and how much do they eat at lunch? Do they ever skip lunch? Does the after-school program serve snacks? This will help you figure out how hungry your kids will be when they get home.
Create a List of Healthy Options
Next, talk about which snacks your kids would like to have at snack time. Come up with a list of healthy options together and be sure to include a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. While a slice of cake or some potato chips shouldn't be forbidden foods, such low-nutrient snacks shouldn't be on the everyday after-school menu.
Make Healthy Snacks an Easy Choice
Don't expect kids - even teens - to cut up their own veggie sticks. It's just too much bother, especially when they're hungry. Kids are more inclined to eat what's handy. That's where you come in. Make healthy snacks easily available by packing them in their lunchboxes or backpacks or by having them visible and ready-to-eat at home.