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You’d probably be rich if you had a dime for every time your child came off the school bus proclaiming her hunger. You may be reluctant to feed your child a snack so close to dinner, so pack your child a snack for school. Healthy snacks should be a part of almost every child’s school day. They provide a much-needed energy boost and prevent your child from overeating at her next meal.
Young children have smaller stomachs than adults. They are incapable of eating a lot of food at one meal and typically get hungry between meals. If your child only eats three meals, he may not get enough carbohydrates, protein and fat. Snacks also give your child the vitamins and minerals he needs to grow and develop properly. KidsHealth.org states most children need two snacks and three meals daily 2.
Snacks and the Brain
Food is turned into glucose in the body. Glucose gives your child’s body and brain the energy he needs to run just like gas gives a car the fuel it needs to go. In between meals, glucose levels fall. This can negatively affect your child’s mood, behavior and brain function. A snack at the right time between meals prevents major hunger pangs and gives your child an energy boost to keep him studying and playing hard at school.
Health Benefits of Snacks
According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, when schools serve snacks, they help children develop lifelong healthy eating habits and prevent chronic diseases, such as:
- heart disease
- high blood pressure 3
Allow your child to eat a couple of appropriately portioned snacks during the day. Children who pick at food all day long have a harder time determining when they are actually hungry, which disrupts their appetite and natural hunger and fullness cues. Nutritiously planned snacks don't interfere with meals, but rather will help your child achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
Choosing Snacks Wisely
Snacks should provide your child with important nutrients, such as calcium, fiber, iron and vitamins. They should not be high in calories, fat or sugar. Preslice vegetables and fruits and pack them ahead of time for your child to take to school. Opt for whole-grain bread, crackers and popcorn or low-fat dairy products. Make a homemade trail mix with nuts for a lean protein source. Ensure your child’s snacks are tasty, colorful and varied so that he gets healthy nutrients to get him through his day.
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