Snacks are an important part of everyone's eating regimen. With their smaller appetites, and active days, kids need snacks to meet their nutrient needs over the course of the day. Adults, too, need snacks to get us through the day. With busy schedules and long days, snacks are often the saving grace from falling into the abyss of hunger. In fact, 30% of Canadians depend on snacks to stay fueled!
When you think of snacks, however, I want you to shift your thoughts away from the chocolate bar or bag of potato chips. Snacks can and should be a refueling shot of energy that also provides nutrition.
1. Have a set time for snacksYou probably know what times you (and your family) get hungry: perhaps it's sometime in the afternoon when lunch has worn off and it's not yet quitting time; that time between getting home and prepping supper; or maybe around 10:30 or so when lunch is just a faint dream... Use those times for a snack! There's only so much we can eat at a meal, and children even more so with their smaller bodies, so we need to refuel in between meals. I suggest having some food every 2-4 hours. Don't wait until you're cranky with hunger; schedule snacks into your day for when you need it most.
2. Plan what you're going to eat and/or serveLeaving your snack options up to the whims of the vending machine or break room likely means you'll find a stash of quick energy in the form of sugar and caffeine. Having planned snacks allows for foods with more sustained energy, including protein and fibre. Also, when we're hungry, we don't make such good food choices, eating whatever is front-and-centre. Planned snacks means what is available is a more filling and nutrient rich snack.
3. Eat mindfullyWhile I completely know the experience of a hectic day, and eating in the car, I highly recommend against it. First off there's the safety issue of distracted driving, possibility for choking, and making a mess in the car. Secondly is the options available while driving are probably something easy to grab and eat with one hand that isn't very filling or nutrient-rich. My third objection is that this kind of eating is usually mindless, and not satisfying.
Take a few minutes out of your day, and try to make your snack break a real break. Focus only on what you're eating, and how it's providing nourishment and satisfaction.
Building a Snack
When preparing a snack or "mini-meal", try for variety. I encourage having at least 2 food groups represented, while trying to include protein and fibre.
Protein and fibre are the satiating twins- they fill us up, and keep us feeling full for longer.
Protein includes: cheese, yogurt, beans & lentils, poultry, fish, eggs...
Fibre can be fruits, vegetables or whole grains
So let's try for some combos:
Yogurt & Fruit
PB&J sandwich (try this easy, low sugar cranberry jam)
Microwaved sweet potato and hummus
So... What are you having for snack today?