What kids eat is so important for healthy growth and development. However, many children’s diets are falling well short of recommendations with many typically eating too many unhealthy foods and too few foods they need for healthy growth, especially teenagers.
Did you know?
- Nearly one in two children regularly drink sugary drinks
- Half of children eat an unhealthy snack every day
- 60% are eating enough fruit and only 5% are eating enough vegetables each day
Healthy snacks help children and teenagers meet their daily nutritional needs as they provide that extra fuel they may need between meals, especially when there is a long time between breakfast, lunch and dinner and for when they are growing quickly.
Snacks based on fruit and vegies, nuts and seeds, reduced fat dairy products and wholegrains are the best choices. Limit snacks that are high in sugar, salt or saturated fats – such as biscuits, cakes, ice creams and confectionery as these foods don’t provide the important nutrients kids need. These ‘extra foods’ should only be offered to your kids occasionally.
Try these simple homemade healthy snacks:
- Toasted sandwiches made with wholemeal or wholegrain bread
- Wholemeal raisin bread or English muffins
- Home popped plain popcorn
- Fruit platters
- Hommus or tazatziki with wholegrain crackers and vegie sticks
- Yoghurt with fruit and a sprinkle of muesli
- Wholegrain crispbread with cheese and tomato
- Pikelets plain, fruit or savoury
- Wholegrain low sugar breakfast cereal with milk and banana
Instead of sugary drinks or fruit juice try:
- Milk, preferably reduced fat
- Smoothies made on milk or yoghurt with fresh or frozen fruit or vegetables
- Icy cold water with sliced fresh fruit
Commercial snack foods available in the supermarket, while convenient, can be expensive, contribute to packaging waste and have varying nutritional value. The best choices are fresh fruit, fruit and nut packs, tubs of plain or low sugar yoghurt, tubs of fruit (in juice not syrup), wholegrain crackers, cartons of UHT plain milk and lightly salted air popped popcorn.
Your kids can check out the healthy lunch box website for ideas on snacks they would like to try. They can even make some of them themselves. See our swaps section for ideas on how to swap out those unhealthy snacks.