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Feature Articles: Children


Teenager enjoying yogurt, a healthy snackHelp your child snack healthfully

Tammy Roberts, MS, RD, LD, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, Barton County, University of Missouri Extension


Snacks can provide 25 percent or more of food intake on any given day for your school-aged child. Because children in the six to twelve age group grow two inches and gain about five pounds a year, it is important that snacks help to provide the important nutrients these growing children need. It has also been found that well-nourished children learn and perform better in school.


Most children in this age group know about making healthy choices but it is the job of the parent to assure the healthy choices are easily accessible. Use these tips to help assure your children are getting the best nutrient value from their snack choices:

  • Keep snack bins with individual servings of a variety of food in them. This makes it easier to make healthy choices. A refrigerator snack bin might contain string cheese, yogurt, cut up vegetables with dip or fresh fruit. A snack bin in the pantry could include crackers, dried fruit, trail mix, pretzels or popcorn. Make sure your children know they should choose from these bins at snack time. This allows them to make a choice but they are choosing from the healthy foods you provide.
  • Encourage your child to choose a snack that includes at least two food groups. Examples might be cheese with crackers, peanut butter on apples, yogurt and fruit, or dried fruit with milk. This helps to ensure your child is getting a wide variety of nutrients.
  • Let your children help decide what will go in the snack bins. They are more likely to consume the foods they have made a decision about purchasing.
  • Let your child catch you eating foods from the snack bins. They need to see you being a good role model.
  • Keep a bowl of fresh fruit on the counter. If it is visible, your family is more likely to grab a piece. To keep fresh fruit affordable, choose fruits that are in season. Keep in mind that a single banana costs about 25 cents and a candy bar costs at least 50 cents. The healthy choice is less expensive!
  • Keep it interesting. Vary the types of food you keep in your snack bins to keep your child interested.
  • Provide healthy drink choices for your child. Water is a great choice. Low-fat or fat-free milk (plain or flavored) is also a good choice because of the nutrients milk contains. Offer only 100% fruit juice, which is full of nutrients; avoid fruit-flavored drinks which have a lot of sugar and little or no nutrient value.


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Last update: Monday, August 29, 2011