Snacking keeps your child's metabolism going throughout the day. But getting a healthy choice out of a toddler can be tough. Here are some delicious tips that can keep you both happy.
I hate being the food police in my house. Now that my toddler has an opinion about food, the snacking battle had begun. I offer apple slices, he wants potato chips. I suggest water, he wants juice. I make a yummy mix of almonds, raisins and cranberries and he wants to eat Chex mix. It is exhausting!
According to registered dietitian Jennifer Haas, M.S., R.D. of Nova Medical & Urgent Care Center, Inc. — the largest primary care practice in Loudoun County, Virginia — snacking is essential to keep your child's metabolism going throughout the day. This will make sure your child's body is continually burning calories, which is an important component of weight management.
"If your child gets hungry, let him or her eat! Teach them to listen to their bodies. In doing so, you should also be teaching them portion control. As a parent, you are one of the biggest influences on your child's eating behaviors," says Ms. Haas, who notes that what kids learn in childhood and what they see their parents do will ultimately carry over into their adult lives. "By teaching them healthy snacking now, you can give them the tools to make smart decisions when it comes to their nutrition later in life."
Ms. Hass offers these suggestions for healthy snacks:
Other great, healthy kids' snacks include:
Ms. Haas also notes to always ask the child what she wants. If it's an item that's not completely healthy, teach your child portion control and pair the unhealthy item with a healthy one. For example, if your child wants ice cream, give her a smaller portion and pair it with fresh fruit. In addition, including the child in food preparation will make her interested in what she is eating — ultimately teaching her to choose healthier foods. Also be sure to pack snacks if you are going to be out all day. This way, you or your child won't be tempted to stop and get something high-calorie and high in fat.
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