Is your kid "oversnacked"?
Thursday 10 February 2011
Snack time, the siren call for every kid. But is your child overindulging in fatty, sugary between-meal treats? A nutrition expert weighs in.
"Despite the increase in weight of our children, there are still critical nutrient gaps," said Gina Bucciferro, an expert at US-based Loyola University Medical Center in a statement on February 8. "Snacks can either make or break the nutritional quality of a kid's daily intake."
Research has shown that 88 percent of children in the US do not meet the recommended daily intake for fruit and 92 percent do not meet the same for vegetables. Research in the UK shows similar results for kids there, with British kids eating fewer than the recommended five servings a day of fruits and vegetables.
So what are the rules for snacking? Bucciferro recommends a high-energy snack after playtime or physical activity - a slice of whole grain bread with low-fat cheese, a handful of unsalted nuts, fresh fruits, or vegetables. According to the American Dietetic Association, school-age children need to drink six eight-ounce (236 mL) cups of water per day and another eight ounces for every half-hour of strenuous activity.
The goal of the snack, says Bucciferro, is to provide good nutrition without excessive sugar, fat, and calories, which eaten two to three hours before a meal can spoil an appetite for a healthy, balanced meal.
Never offer a snack as a reward in order not to form unhealthy relationships with food at an early age. Rather, reward your child with playtime or fun activities. Experts advise not treating fatty foods as forbidden either, but encouraging everything in moderation.
Also, avoid giving snacks as a remedy for boredom. If you notice your child asking for snacks at off-times, assess the situation before doling out treats. If your child needs an energy boost, offer low-fat yogurt or vegetables with a low-fat dip.
More tips and ideas: http://health.kaboose.com/nutrition/snacks.html
The 20 best snacks for your kids: http://www.parents.com/toddlers-preschoolers/feeding/healthy-eating/the-20-best-snacks-for-kids/
Picky eater on your hands? Watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrDDfx2TRoA
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