Get those snacks right!

Get those snacks right

Kids have more snacks scheduled into their day than full meals, making it important for you to plan healthy foods into their snacks as well.

You see, learning doesn't just make your kids smart, it also makes them hungry. And that's why it's so important to have a mid-morning snack at school, two or three hours after breakfast. This snack gives kids an energy boost, and helps keep their concentration going through the rest of their lessons. Children who eat a good breakfast don't need to top up quite as much as kids who "don't do" breakfast, but everyone needs to refuel.

Give breaktime snacks a boost

Apart from needing energy to learn, kids also need a healthy supply of vitamins and minerals. Their second breakfast, or mid-morning snack, should consist, as far as possible, of healthy foods such as yoghurt, fruit, vegetables, wholegrain bread, etc. Any of these power snacks will boost your child's energy levels and revitalise them to continue with their lessons. The mid-morning snack will also ensure that they don't get too hungry before lunchtime. Remember: the older the child, the more time they spend at school and so, the longer they have to wait until lunchtime.

Does your child like to eat something sweet at school? Choose from fresh or dried fruits, nuts, fruit bars, or a sandwich of wholegrain bread with cheese, veggies, butter or jam.

What if your kids are not really into mid-morning snacks? Give their breaktime sandwich a healthy boost with crispy vegetables such as cucumber, carrots, cherry tomatoes or salad leaves, and add fresh fruit such as grapes, apples or pears. Avoid sweet treats such as biscuits, chocolate or sweets that contain high levels of sugar and, in some cases, also fat, with little or almost zero levels of any of the essential nutrients that your child needs. Take a look at our table to see how you can boost your child's breaktime snack.

Mid-morning snack: pick and mix

Name of recipe

Recipe

Big snack

Thinly spread 1 wholegrain roll with mayonnaise or butter. Fill with 1 lettuce leaf, 1 slice of cheese, 2 thin slices of cucumber and 1 slice of tomato.

"Rabbit" sandwich

Spread 1 slice of wholegrain bread with cream cheese or cottage cheese. Grate 1 small carrot and sprinkle over the cheese. Cut the slice of bread in half, put one half on top of the other and press down firmly.

Spicy burger

Spread 2 slices of brown bread thinly with mayonnaise or butter. Place 1 slice of cheese on one of the slices of bread. Take one red pepper, remove the top and the core and wash thoroughly. Leave it to dry on a piece of kitchen towel. Then slice the pepper into rings, add veggies and place on the bread.


Tea-time : Time for some sweet treats

If your child wants an afternoon snack, make a particular time for it. Let your little ones satisfy their sweet cravings after lunch or later in the afternoon, as part of their afternoon break. This is the right time to indulge your child’s sweet tooth as he / she can burn it off later with all the afternoon or evening playtime activities.

Just as we adults sometimes like having some chocolate or a biscuit with our cup of tea or coffee, children fancy something sweet too. Human beings innately have a sweet tooth almost from the moment they are born: even breast milk tastes slightly sweet. So, banning sweet things won't solve the problem. In fact, banning something just tends to make it more appealing.

Ideally, fruit, yoghurt, bread, or wholegrain cereals should feature on the afternoon tea table.  But every once in a while, you can also include pastries, cakes or other sweet yummies.

Remember, in a balanced diet, not more than 10% of the day's energy requirements should come from sugar. Sweet snacks like chocolates, wafers can be ideal if taken in between meals in controlled portions.

Many children tend to dig into sweet foods and guzzle sugary drinks in the late evening out of boredom. These will make the young one put on extra pounds if not followed by physical activity.

And don't forget the drinks

Water is one of the most important foods, as approximately two thirds of our body consists of water. While the body can manage for several weeks without food, too little water soon causes bodily functions to deteriorate. The younger the child, the more important it is for her to drink adequate water. So make sure you include enough drinks for your little ones. Their fluid reserves should be kept topped up at all times. Water, unsweetened fruit or herbal teas and/or juices diluted with water are ideal drinks that can be carried around easily in a well-sealed bottle suitable for cold drinks.

Planning your child’s snack time to include a mix of healthy foods and indulgences will ensure your child is eating well at all times and has the required energy to stay focussed in school and at play, as well.