The idea of a snack or mini meal to get you through until lunch or dinner has quickly been replaced by convenient, readily available processed snacks. No where is this more apparent than in school lunches and classroom recycle bins. We are a society living in the fast lane and somewhere along the highway we substituted empty calories and processed food for nutrition. To make matters worse, kids seem to be in a constant state of snacking as families get busier.
Studies do suggest eating smaller meals more frequently during the day can be healthier than the traditional larger breakfast, lunch and dinner, but the snacks being added to our children’s 3 daily meals are processed packaged foods with empty calories and very little nutritional value. (I’m looking at you fishy crackers).
As an active family there are many occasions when we have meals in our mini van or enjoy car snacks to hold us over until a late dinner, but I treat those snacks and mobile dinners as mini meals. I ensure they are healthy and include 5 essentials of a balanced meal because my busy active kids need to be properly nourished to be at their best.
Now is the time to purge the processed snacks.
Purge Processed Snacks – Choose Healthier
Free the Fish
Fish shaped crackers offer very little value besides maybe engaging kids busy hands and helping to pass time. There are so many snack options that are easy to grab on the go and pack much more of a nutritional punch. Make your own trail mix of low sugar dried cereals and add in dried fruit like raisons, apricots, prunes, nuts or seeds, and even add chocolate chips for fun.
Toss the Tubes
You are getting more sugar, colour and additives for your buck than nutrition in the tubes and drinkable yogurts. Buy plain or vanilla greek yogurt and dress it up with frozen berries or a drizzle of maple syrup. Store in individual reusable containers in the fridge for easy to grab on-the-go snacking or school lunches.
Steer Clear of Colour
All you need is water or 100% juice that gets its colour naturally from the fruit. Anything else has dyes and chemicals in it. Sport drinks, crystals, fruit punches and cocktails are nothing more than coloured sugar water. Stick with clear water and add your own flavour with fresh or frozen berries, lemon, lime or even cucumbers and mint.
Crush the Candy
Those ‘made with real’ fruit snacks are more like candy than fruit. Replace fruit in a cup, fruit in a roll up, fruit gusher and fruit chews with REAL fruit. Sliced apples, grapes, bananas, orange, melon, pears – the list is endless and kids love eating real fruit. Put it on a stick, add a yogurt dip, freeze grapes for more fun. Get in the habit of serving the real thing and crush the candy fruit habit.
Dessert is not for Breakfast
Breakfast is a an important meal that gets you going for the day. It should be full of protein, calcium, whole grains and fruit. Slowly our choices in breakfast cereal seem to be morphing into dessert toppings with ingredients like chocolate, marshmallows and honey clusters. A bowl of fruity loops or crunchy captains has the same amount of sugar as 4 cookies and pretty similar nutritional value. Steer clear of cereals that have more than 10 grams of sugar and stick with simple whole grains that offer protein and fibre with only 1 gram of sugar, then go to town with real fruit toppings like bananas and berries.
Let Go of ‘Granola’ Bars
They are easy, convenient and have words like whole grains splashed all over them but many granola bars are not that great nutritionally. The average bar offers only 1 gram of protein and 2 grams of fibre while boasting 6 or more grams of sugar. Compare that to a serving of dry cheerios, shreddies or oat square cereal that offers 3 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein with similar or less sugar. Or an IronKids Nutrition Snack Bar made from brown rice and real fruit that has 4 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein. Learn how to read labels in the granola bar isle to get some nutritional value out of your snack bars.
Purging processed snacks starts with making healthy choices at the grocery store and being mindful of the snacks we are packing for school lunches and busy days on the go. Look for nutritional value as well as convenience the next time you get a snack craving.
Pin to your Healthy Eating or School Snacks Pinterest Board for easy reference.