March is national nutrition month, making it a great time to focus on how to incorporate healthier menu options in your family’s diet. Johns Hopkins All Children’s Healthy Weight Initiative clinic focuses on going beyond “quick diet fixes” and instead empowering kids to make life-long behavior changes for a healthier life. This can start with something as simple as your child’s afternoon snack.
Snacks are a great way to combat that in-between meal time hunger. However, many times we think of “grab and go” snacks like chips, cookies or crackers, that are higher in simple carbohydrates and processed foods. It might be tasty in that moment, but often you will find that you’re still hungry soon after eating and might even go back for more. Why do snacks like these leave us wanting more? Crackers or chips tend to lack fiber, a key component of what keeps us fuller for longer and also contain hidden sugars (even in salty foods) that tend to increase our hunger drive.
Instead of those higher carb snacks, consider snacks that have at least two food groups. This can include two of the following:
- Whole grains
Choosing healthy snacks is also a matter of changing your child’s food environment. It is a good idea to have some of these foods be readily available and in high traffic areas that kids can see right away-either the refrigerator or pantry, already split up into individual containers and ready for snacking. This can help your family easily pick these healthier snacks rather than something more processed. Not only will this maximize the nutrition of your child’s snacks but they are likely to feel less hungry later.
Here are just a few healthy snack swaps you can try with your child:
|Chips||Carrots with hummus dip|
|Saltine crackers||Cucumbers with Greek yogurt dip|
|Spicy chips||Mixed nuts and an apple|
|Chips and guacamole||Fresh veggies with guacamole (or avocado)|
|Peanut butter crackers||Banana and nut butter|
|Store bought yogurt with fruit at bottom||Fat free vanilla yogurt topped with fresh fruit|
|Store bought popsicle||Homemade popsicle (just blend frozen fruit & water)|
The Healthy Weight Initiative team provides customized recommendations for each child’s unique developmental, dietary, and lifestyle needs. For more information or more ideas on healthy snacks, visit HopkinsAllChildrens.org/HWI
*Presented by Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital