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5 Ways to Healthy Summer Snack Time

Written by Noggin Team

Did you know that preschoolers “should be eating between 1,200 and 1,600 calories per day,” according to the Cleveland Clinic? That’s probably not a surprise if you’re a parent who hears “I’m hungry” constantly throughout the day. But considering the average calorie intake is 2,000 per day for women and 2,500 for men, it’s clear that despite their smaller tummies, little kids need to snack regularly – and we hope, healthy! This may be harder during the summer when routines are disrupted and vacation treats are everywhere. Plus, playing in the sun all day has your child burning tons of calories – and probably craving popsicles, ice cream, and other cool sweets.

Happily, a little easy planning is all it takes to snack smart. Here are five tips on how!

Prep It, Pack It, and Be Ready for Anything!

One of the easiest steps you can take to avoid buying from the snack bar is having your own food prepped and packed. When you’re on the go, it may feel easier to buy items out, but you’ll save your kids the sugar rush (and your wallet!) if you prepare snacks beforehand. Here are some fun tips and tricks to make your packed snacks rival anything they find in the vending machine.

  • Use a bento box or new lunch case with their favorite character (PAW Patrol, anyone?) to get them excited about their own snacks.
  • Fill their box with colorful fruits, veggies, whole grain crackers, nuts, and other easy-to-grab snacks. Their ability to choose will make them feel like they have control over their snacking.
  • Freeze fruit! Frozen grapes (don’t forget to cut in half for younger kids!) or berries can be the perfect refresher. An ice pack can keep them cold and delicious for later.
  • Jazz it up! Cut out a face in their PB&J sandwich; make ants on a log using celery, peanut or sun butter, and raisins; create banana sushi by rolling a banana in toppings, like coconut and nuts, then slice in pieces sushi-style.

Drink Water … Lots of Water

When it’s hot out, staying hydrated is critical for everyone in the family. It’s also common to confuse thirst for hunger. So if your kids are spending time in the sun and being way more active, make sure they are drinking throughout the day, especially before they grab a snack.

  1. Let them pick out a fun thermos to carry around! Be sure to fill it continually throughout the day.
  2. Add fruit to their water to make it more flavorful. Strawberries, lemons, oranges, limes, berries, and mint make great additions.
  3. Fill their thermos with ice! Cold water on a hot day is the best treat.
  4. Check in with them to see the progress they’ve made.
  5. When they ask for a snack, make sure they have water first to ensure it’s the hunger and – and not the thirst – talking.

Make Snack Time an Activity

It might be summer, but that doesn’t stop bad weather. When stuck indoors, make or bake a healthy treat! Working together to make a snack will build your child’s anticipation for their treat and also make them feel proud of their effort. An added bonus? Cooking also teaches skills like measuring and counting while offering the chance to work on focus as they follow a recipe.

  • Go to the grocery store, and pick out the ingredients together, making the activity feel even more special.
  • Making a batch of healthy snacks that lasts a week or more will give your child snacks they can be proud and eager to reach for, knowing they helped make them.

Model Healthy Eating!

  • Pack your pantry with good food! One of the biggest tricks to healthy eating is not having junk food lying around. If you mostly have healthy options to choose from, you and your kids can avoid mindlessly eating chips or other high-calorie, low-nutrient foods.
  • Take a break, and share a snack together to set an example of mindful eating. By demonstrating that food is something to slow down for and enjoy together, you’re creating healthy habits they can follow as they grow up.

Choose the Least Worst Option

It’s inevitable, sometimes you're going to have to buy snacks out in the wild. Rather than throwing caution to the wind, have a game plan.

  • Scan the menu and see what’s the least sugary or processed option. Sometimes that means steering them towards a fruit cup instead of a snow cone – or popcorn instead of potato chips.
  • Everything in moderation! If there isn’t a healthy option, try dividing the portion in half before handing it over, or splitting it with them to reduce the amount.
  • Having a plan before staring at the menu will help you make the best decision for them.

One big point to make to little kids is that eating healthy isn’t a punishment. It’s a wonderful way to make both kids and grown-ups minds and bodies feel their best. Most importantly, establishing good snack habits early can set children up for success in having healthy eating habits as adults.

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