The Importance of a Good Snack
By Onnie Sanford
After a fun-filled summer with no hard-pressed schedules, we are now thrust into the new school year. Some kids are excited, others are terrified. Some parents look forward to this time of year, while other parents dread it.
If anyone else is like me, school lunches can be our nemesis. I have some healthful tips and tricks to keep your kids, and yourself, fed while we gear up for a busy school year.
Most people can grasp the idea of eating a well-balanced meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You throw in the meals in between (the majority calls them “snacks” but I call them meals two and four) and people start to get anxious.
We will start with kids’ lunches and snacks, because kids always seem to be hungry. I do buy some processed foods, but I am selective on what I buy and I balance it out with fresh food. I look at my kids’ lunchbox as a meal plan.
First, I incorporate a protein in the form of a sandwich with a hearty slice of bread; we love tuna, turkey or ham. We have even made their own “lunchables” by cutting up lunch meat and cheese to fit on hearty crackers.
I also try to throw in some type of fat in the form of peanut butter, nuts, cheese, yogurt or even hummus. Fat is important for kids to help them remain fuller longer and be more satisfied after a meal.
My go-to fruits are blueberries, strawberries or oranges because they are easy to eat and, well, my kids love them. To balance it out, I throw in a fun item like fruit snacks or popcorn.
The biggest thing that I do to ensure that my kids are eating is I let them choose items from the list that they want in their lunches – and they have to make their own lunch the night before. I buy snacks in bulk and put them on the pantry shelf already in bags and easy to grab to fill lunchboxes. The kids love helping with sorting food after grocery shopping. Making them a part of selecting their own meals actually increases the odds that the food is eaten.
Now to grown-up snacks. Our kids cannot function if we are not functioning properly.
On most days, my “snack” meals are the same size as all my other meals, and that is what I prefer. Occasionally, even I falter and need a quick grab snack.
Of all the questions that I get asked, the “what do I eat for a snack?” ranks No. 1. Keep it simple, and remember it is all about balance.
Just as you put your kids’ lunches together and plan for them, do the same for yourself. If you are smart about it, the snacks can actually cross over – fruit, peanut butter, nuts, hummus, ham and pickles, guacamole and veggies.
It is preferable to use a carbohydrate with your morning snack, like apple and peanut butter. Your afternoon snack, which is when most people reach for the sugar-filled snacks, should be the veggie type. Keep it ready and on hand and you will be less likely to derail yourself with a candy bar.