With summer comes an array of fun activities and outings. Sometimes it’s hard to make sure kids eat healthy when they’re on the run, yet they need good nutrition to keep them going strong. Most children need to eat five times each day: breakfast, A.M. snack, lunch, P.M. snack, and supper.
Snacks should contain about half the number of calories in a meal and account for ¼ of a child’s calories per day. So, for a six-year-old girl that needs 1400 calories per day, each meal should be around 350 calories and each snack about 175 calories. A ten-year-old boy who needs 1800 calories should have meals of about 450 calories each and snacks of around 225 calories. Besides counting calories, it’s important to look at the type of calories. Snacks high in solid fats and added sugar and salt should be avoided or eaten as a rare treat.
Here are some tips for easy, healthy snacks to keep on hand at home.
Fresh fruit and veggies
To make fruits and veggies easier to access and more desirable for kids, pre wash and cut. Then put the fruit or veggies in clear, individual serving size containers so kids can grab and go.
Nuts and seeds
A serving of nuts for kids is about ½ oz. (half a handful). Measure out some servings of nuts and seeds and seal in plastic baggies. Place baggies in an easy-to-reach container in the cupboard.
Low Fat/Fat-free Dairy Products
Keep some individually wrapped string cheese and several cartons of fat-free yogurt in the refrigerator.
Sometimes kids aren’t at home when hunger strikes. Community swimming pools, movie theaters and amusement parks are all frequented by kids during the summer months. Besides offering entertainment, these venues also provide a wide array of tempting snack options—most of them loaded with fat, sugar and calories. Here are the calorie counts for common snack options:
- Cotton Candy: 180 (all from sugar)
- Ice Cream Cone: 170-300
- Medium fries: 380
- Nachos with cheese: 346
- Snickers bar: 271
- Snow Cone: 270
- Soft pretzel: 483
- Theater popcorn: 400-1200
Some of the options, like cotton candy or ice cream cones, might not be extremely high in calories, but the calories they do contain provide little or no nutritional value. Certainly it is okay for kids to enjoy a special treat once in a while, but if they’re at the pool eating soft pretzels every afternoon, they could probably stand to make a switch to some healthier snacks.
Parents can involve their children in helping prepare healthy, satisfying and delicious snacks to take along on their summer outings or enjoy at home. Click on the links below for some easy snack recipe suggestions.