Let’s face it – we’ve become a society of snackers. And it’s especially the case when your family’s daily schedule is thrown out the window while travelling or on holidays. Here are some tips on how to snack healthily.

Studies confirm that the rate of snacking and amount of calories ingested via snacks has increased dramatically over the years. A 2010 study in the United States found that the number of eating occasions has increased over the past 30 years across all age groups, including children.  

I don’t believe there is an issue with snacking per se, rather the quality and regularity of snacks children (and adults) consume. I’m not one to push any particular patterns for food consumption as I realise that every family has their own schedules and each person within that family has their own requirements.

So, instead, here are my Top 3 tips for ensuring snacking habits in your household are healthy:

1. Don’t snack near mealtimes

Avoiding snacking at mealtimes ensures your kids are always ravenous come dinner time. It may be difficult if your kids are moaning for a snack (and I understand the temptation for peace and quiet in these circumstances) but you are not doing them or yourself any favours to give in. I know many parents who allow their children to snack right up to dinner time, then battle with them over the dinner table because they are fussing over their meal – the child is simply no longer hungry because they are full on snacks! It’s not pleasant for either party and it sets an animosity over eating that could have been avoided.

2. Set snack times

Rather than supplying your kids with food all day long, consider setting specific times for snacks. Schedules are just a part of life and it is beneficial for kids to learn this from a young age. For younger children, you will be doing them a favour setting times for morning and afternoon tea as this will prepare them for the day they go to kindy or school.

3. Make sure snacks are nourishing

This is critical, especially for children who are natural grazers. Falling into the trap of doling out convenience foods or treats as snacks can lead to nutritional deficiency and no desire for a proper meal. So it’s really important to make sure that even snacks are nourishing our children’s tiny bodies. Remember that children have a much smaller stomach capacity than adults, but a much greater nutrient requirement, so every mouthful needs to count. I recommend a little protein be part of all snacks. I find if I give my kids a piece of fruit or a bowl of popcorn (or another simple carbohydrate) then they are likely to be complaining that they are still hungry within minutes. They are much more sustained when protein is part of the snack and less likely to keep hassling me for more food.

Well Nourished

Well Nourished  

Founded by Georgia, a mum, cookbook author, naturopath with 19 years experience and the creator of The Well Nourished Lunch Box Challenge, Well Nourished delivers wholesome, easy-to-follow recipes targeted to busy families. Readers flock to Well Nourished for inspiring health advice and free, nourishing, family friendly recipes. // www.wellnourished.com.au