Kids who eat in between meals consume an average of 1-3 snacks per day. That totals to almost 1100 snack times each year! Imagine which new foods you could introduce and what unhealthy habits you could break in that amount of time. Studies show it takes 10-15 introductions for a child to be comfortable with a new food. Heck, that’s 100 new foods! Add up all those snacks and they’ll account for 25-30% of your little one’s daily food intake. You catch my drift? Snack time is crucial when it comes to raising healthy eaters.
Most American families, myself including, consume snacks in a frenzy, between childcare and school pick-ups and drop-offs, errands or extracurriculars. Layer on picky eating habits and we’ve got ourselves in a real pickle with finding feasible options. We often serve the most convenient options that children can munch on anywhere (keeping the whining to a minimum) including: cheese crackers, fruit snacks, pretzels, cookies and granola bars.
Unfortunately, despite the flashy claims on the packaging, the majority of these products aren’t real food at all. In fact, most of these foods are just empty calories. “Empty” meaning products void of any real nutritional value. Your kids, who need vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and protein to grow properly, are getting literally nothing
nutritionally beneficial from these 1100 snack times. According to a study
published in the Journal of Dietetics Association, the average child consumes 40% of his daily energy intake in the form of empty calories. That’s almost half of the food our children consume everyday! Imagine how much happier, healthier and smarter our kids would be if snack time mattered. This week, I’m challenging you to find a new nutrient-dense snack to add to your family’s regular snack options. Think:
- Veggie sticks + travel hummus (kids love to dip!)
- Frozen fruit like grapes + blueberries
- Naturally sweetened, plain granola like Purely Elizabeth, Grandy Oats or Homemade Granola
- Double Coco Cherry Walnut Bars
- Portable fruit like apples and clementines
- Apples or pears + nut butter
- Roasted sweet squash bites with cinnamon
- Homemade trail mix: combine pumpkin seeds, coconut flakes, cranberries and dark chocolate chips for an irrestible treat!
Remember, it’s all about making small, sustainable changes that matter. So, don’t go prying cheese crackers from your son’s fingers immediately after reading this post. Just start offering this new snack option first with the goal of reducing empty-calorie snacks over time.
Which nutrient-dense snack are you going to add in? Tell us in the comments!