Healthy snacking advice is something we get asked for a lot by parents and family members, so we hope this information page will be useful for you.
At the end of this page you will find a PDF version of this information. You can download it, print it out and stick it on your fridge or noticeboard to help you and your family to be able to plan a healthy, balanced diet.
Many parents worry about their children’s snacking habits. This is perhaps not surprising given that many children in the UK are eating up to four high sugar snacks every day!
Children have small stomachs and high energy demands for growth, and snacks can contribute valuable energy and nutrients to children’s daily diets. The key to whether snacking is good or bad for your child is which snacks you choose and how much you give of them.
When is snacking a problem?
High energy, sugary snacks will give children an energy burst but will quickly leave them wanting more in a small amount of time – often leading to continuous grazing between meals and resulting in less being eaten at mealtimes. A frustration for many parents!
Research in the UK shows us that children are eating more than double the maximum recommended amount of sugar per day, and that half of their sugar intake is coming from unhealthy snacks or drinks. If children eat too many high sugar foods over the long term this can lead to some serious health concerns including obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Encouraging children to eat less sugary snacks is an important health message.
How to plan healthy snacks
When planning healthy snacks it is best to use the Eatwell Guide in the same way that we would to plan main meals. Good snack choices include: fruit or vegetables; dairy foods such as milk or yogurt; protein foods such as fish, meat or eggs, and; wholegrain foods such as toast or cereal. These foods will make a positive contribution to your child’s daily diet, providing vitamins, minerals, fibre and protein.
You could also include a glass/cup of water; the perfect way to encourage your child to stay hydrated across the day, without adding extra sugar to your child’s daily diet.
Make sure that you offer snacks at appropriate times and not too close to meal times. Appropriate portion sizes are important too; sufficient to keep your child going between meals but not so much that they don’t eat their dinner.
What about packaged snacks?
Whilst the best kind of snacks are home-made and based on the four main food groups, it may not always be possible to provide this for our children. We all lead busy lives, and sometimes whilst we are out and about, we might have to reach for packaged or shop-bought snacks.
Packaged snacks vary greatly in their calorie content. The best way to ensure that we’re making healthier choices it to choose packaged snacks below 100 calories per portion, and to restrict packaged snacks to no more than 2 a day.
100 calorie snacks – 2 a day max!
Some products have traffic light labelling and these can also be used to make healthier choices. Try and choose packaged snacks that have mainly green or amber labels and less red. Red means that the snack is high in fat, sugar or salt and are best kept as an occasional treat, not an everyday snack.
Further information and support:
For more healthy snack ideas and recipes visit www.phunkyfoods.co.uk/recipes