Gerber Life Family Times --- News and tips for familes of all ages and stages of life

Make That Snack a Healthy One

April 2003 Issue

Credit Card Fraud

Arbor Day--
Plant a family tree

The First Steps
to Potty Training

Sports, Kids
and What Parents
Should Know

Make That Snack
a Healthy One

Did You Know?

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“Mom—I’m hungry!” How many times a day does that phrase resound across the nation? Snacks are an essential part of the childhood experience. From toddlers to preschoolers and even high school age kids, growing bodies need a regular flow of nutrients to keep them going throughout the day and sometimes three meals are not enough.

When considering snack food choices for children, keep a few things in mind. Snacks are just that—snacks. Don’t let them become replacements for meals. Your child should be getting the majority of his/her nutrition from regular meals each and every day. Snacks are a way to refuel the young body that’s expending energy every minute spent playing, learning and exploring. Space snacks far enough from regular meals to avoid ruining young appetites. Make portion sizes appropriate for your child. A toddler needs less than an elementary school child and teens can practically eat you out of house and home. Start your kids off eating healthy snacks from the start. Avoid prepackaged, highly marketed fun “lunches” which may be high in fats and preservatives. Prepackaged snack foods may be convenient but check the nutritional information on the side panel. Chances are they are high in sugar and or fats and that type of snacking is just setting your child up for a lifetime of bad eating habits. However, growing children need some fat in their diets so it should not be eliminated completely.

Instead, start early and use good natural foods as healthy alternatives for snacking. Fruits and vegetables are always a good choice. Dress them up with peanut butter spreads and yogurt dips to break up the monotony of the same fruit or vegetable. Peanuts and raisins make a great quick snack that’s filled with protein and a bit of natural sweetness. Regular or frozen yogurt is another option for snack time that provides essential calcium in your child’s diet. Instead of using the “fruit-on-the-bottom” yogurts, try plain vanilla yogurt and make your own fresh fruit mix to flavor it to your child’s liking. Smoothies have become a very popular snack alternative and are easily made with milk or yogurt, juices and fresh fruits. Cheese also makes a great snack alternative and string cheese is a fun choice for the little ones. If your child has a sweet tooth, try dried fruits. The drying process intensifies the natural sugars in the fruit and may make a great alternative to candy bars loaded with processed sugars and extra fats. They are also good alternative to processed fruit rolls which have added sugar and tend to get caught between teeth—increasing the likelihood of tooth decay.

Crackers and graham crackers, vanilla wafers and gingersnaps, flavored rice cakes with peanut butter should all be snack food staples in the kitchen. Get creative and dress up plain popcorn with a flavored seasoning (try cheese or a favorite seasoning blend). A cereal mix is a wonderful option combining pretzels, nuts and a bit of flavor. If you’re constantly on the go, prepackage some non-perishable treats in mini plastic storage bags and throw them in your purse or pocket. When the inevitable time comes for the “mom, I’m hungry”, you’ll be prepared and can avoid a stop by the fast food restaurants. Just like everything else, good nutritional habits start at the earliest age. Get your kids off on the right track with some creative snacking options!

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