Extension and Ag Research News


Help Kids Choose Healthful Snacks

Encourage kids to eat nutritious snacks.

Kids are out of school for the summer, and you may notice them heading to the refrigerator more often.

However, they might not be making healthful choices. Candy, cookies, chips and cake are among the snacks kids choose most frequently, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture survey. Calories can add up quickly. For example, one can of soda pop has up to 170 calories and no nutrients.

Snack time is the perfect opportunity to include more fruits and vegetables in your kids’ diet.

“Providing nutritious snacks doesn’t have to be expensive, but you may need to do some planning to make them readily available for your child,” says Julie Garden-Robinson, North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist.

Here are a few tips:

  • Plan snacks with your child so you buy nutritious foods he or she likes and will eat.
  • Involve your child in grocery shopping by letting him or her pick out one new fruit, vegetable or other nutritious food each time you shop.
  • Keep baggies of cut-up fruits and veggies in the fridge for a grab-and-go snack.
  • Make snacks requiring more preparation the night before so they are ready when you need them.

Getting kids to eat fruits and vegetables can be difficult, so make snack time fun, Garden-Robinson advises. Try serving veggies with low-fat dip or providing a variety of cut-up fruits and veggies and letting your kids create kabobs. If your kids are preschoolers, you may need to help them.

Don’t be surprised if you are attempting to get your child to try a new fruit, vegetable or other nutritious food and he or she doesn’t like it. You may need to offer your child a new food 10 to 15 times before he or she will eat it, nutrition experts say.

Having kids help make snacks might be another way to get them to eat nutritiously. They’re more likely to eat foods they’ve had a hand in preparing. They’ll also learn what portion sizes look like and be better able to make smart food choices.

Keep safety in mind, too. Remind children to wash their hands before preparing a snack and before eating, Garden-Robinson says. Children under age 5 are at risk of choking on food or other objects, so always supervise young children while they are eating. Also remind them to chew food thoroughly, take small bites and eat slowly.

For more information about healthful snacks, visit http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/eatsmart/now_serving.htm. You’ll find a variety of publications, including two about easy snacks. For videos showing some easy-to-make snacks, go to http://www.ndsu.edu/eatsmart. Three NDSU Bison athletes and a coach demonstrate the snack recipes. The videos are part of the “Eat Smart. Play Hard. Together” campaign.

NDSU Agriculture Communication

Source:Julie Garden-Robinson, (701) 231-7187, julie.garden-robinson@ndsu.edu
Editor:Ellen Crawford, (701) 231-5391, ellen.crawford@ndsu.edu
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