Usually, the least nutritious time of the day is the period after school and before dinner. During this time, kids generally reach for fatty and unhealthy snacks, such as chips and soda, and sit in front of the TV to watch their favorite shows. Then, after filling up, they are usually not even hungry for the meal you have cooked.
Although many parents will force their children to finish every bite off of their plate, we explained in another blog postanother blog post why you should let them go without dinner, instead. However, if you do, that does mean that your children will not be receiving a properly balanced meal.
So what should you do to help your children change their habits?
You can provide them with these 20 healthy alternative snacks:
- Fruit. Apples, bananas, pears, and other fruit are great – and portable – snacks for after lunchtime.
- Peanut butter. With plenty of protein and fiber, peanut butter is great by itself or combined with other foods.
- Smoothies. You can create delicious smoothies for your kids in no time with nonfat yogurt and real fruit or 100% fruit juice.
- Sweet potatoes. We don’t recommend serving raw sweet potatoes to children, but you can bake them, mash them, or make chips out of them.
- Carrot or celery sticks. These are great to dip in ranch dressing, hummus, or peanut butter.
- Applesauce. You can usually find applesauce in little individual cups (perfect for portion control), but be sure to get the kind with no added sugar.
- Nuts. Add nuts to your homemade trail mix for a great high-protein snack.
- Hummus. Hummus is made from pureed chickpeas, which contain iron and vitamin B6. Use it to create a dip for veggies or pita bread.
- Popcorn. Popcorn isn’t just for movie-watching anymore. Add cheese or herbs for extra flavoring.
- Raisins. Combine them with peanut butter and celery to create the classic “Ants on a Log.”
- Kale chips. These chips are extremely easy to make and have the added benefit of being one of the healthiest snacks you can have.
- Rice or corn cakes. These are a great low-calorie snack that you can have with fruit, peanut butter, or any other topping.
- Cheese. Packed with protein, low-fat cheese is a perfect afternoon snack.
- Yogurt. Greek yogurt topped with fruit, honey, nuts, or cereal can even be substituted for a whole meal.
- Whole grain waffles. Try a fun alternative to the classic sandwich: spread peanut butter and jelly on toasted whole grain waffles.
- Seaweed. Portable and rich in many minerals, seaweed is another great alternative to chips.
- Whole grain cereal. Perfect for snacking on the road, cereal usually contains a healthy amount of vitamins, calcium, and fiber.
- Strawberries. Strawberries are a great summer treat for when your kids get tired of apples and bananas.
- Oatmeal. Whether served hot or in cookies, oatmeal can be mixed with raisins, cranberries, or dried apricots for a sweet, fruity flavor.
- Eggs. Not just a breakfast food, eggs can be served hard-boiled, scrambled, or rolled up in pita bread or a tortilla.