The all-time favourite pastime of most pre-school or school going children is snacking on junk foods. This pastime, or rather, unhealthy eating habit extends throughout the school going period & may even prolong till adolescence. Children often love to munch on those irresistible pack of potato chips or crisps or nachos while they watch their favourite cartoon show on TV. The problem with this is that healthy snacks are never chosen for munching & all these junk foods just supply zero nutrition & loads of empty calories!!!
These unrestricted indulgences have often led to the increased incidences of childhood obesity all over the world. Various food industries have now come up with a separate niche for developing lip smacking snacks exclusively for children. The problem with these snacks are that they are too addictive due to the presence of lots of additives such as caffeine, MSG, high fructose corn syrup, etc. The result is that the rate of childhood obesity is now catching up with the rate of adult obesity worldwide.
Why are junk foods so appealing & irresistible??? Apart from their containing too many addictive substances, children are not given healthy snacks alternatives in place of these items. Parents should make healthy snacks options easily available at home as well as they should choose healthy foods when they themselves snack. Children obviously learn through example & discipline, more so from the former than the latter.
Composition of Healthy Snacks For Children
Go slow on carbs (especially sugar)
Despite the fact that children love to binge on everything sweet, we as parents need to be cautious. Add some dried fruits or whole sweet fruits such as banana, mango, etc. in place of simple sugars, for sweetness. Try sweetening those favourite cookies with banana or brown sugar or honey, which are much better than castor sugar.
Protein is a must
Prepare healthy snacks which contains atleast one good source of proteins such as from whole sprouts, baked beans, green peas, soya, cottage cheese, homemade yoghurt, eggs, etc. This helps the snack to be a filling one.
Include whole grain cereals than refined cereals
Dry roasting corn, jowar, rice to make their puffed versions are a much safer & healthy snacks options to munch on than on those fattening potato, banana chips.
Nuts for Fats
Try adding roasted & powdered walnuts, peanuts, almonds, pistachios in their snack smoothies which makes them thicker, fuller & creamier.
Are you among those parents who are busy with professional life & unable to devote additional time for cooking, here are few quick healthy snacks for your tiny tots :
Flaked rice replaced with whole grain oats which makes for a wholesome healthy snacks. Prepare in weekend for a month in bulk & store.
Healthy Snack Bars
Go for those having granola, oats, raisins, dates & other seeds such as sesame seeds, flaxseeds, etc. Can buy a pack which lasts a week.
Baked Sweet Potato Chips
Baked with minimal fat instead of frying, so much less of saturated fats. Sweet potato has natural sweeteness as well more fibre compared to plain potato. Prepare in weekends & store.
Banana Oatmeal cookies
Sweetness from banana, fibre from oats, minus the refined flour & sugar, this healthy snack can tickle your child’s taste buds in the same way as junk foods, but sans any harm.