A kid’s school day is long and, for many, lunchtime comes really early – even as early as 10 am. By the time they get through their school day and any after-school activities, it has been hours since their last meal. It is no wonder that by the time kids get home, they are hungry and looking to raid the refrigerator.
Pediatricians agree that waiting for dinner to eat again is not always the best option. Rather, having a healthy snack can help to reduce their hunger while providing them some much-needed nutrition.
Let’s take a look at some healthy after-school snacks for kids that will still keep them hungry for dinner.
Should Kids Snack Before Dinner?
Every child is different, but as kids grow, their body needs fuel. Even more so if they are very physically active. On average, it is recommended for most young kids to eat 3 meals per day with two snacks thrown in, dropping down to one snack as they get older.
When your child is hungry, you don’t always want to deny them food, especially if it has been 3 to 4 hours since they have eaten their last meal. Or, if it will be longer than this before their next meal.
Providing a small, healthy snack can take the edge off while also providing them with much-needed nutrition. In other words, your child feels better and you can feel good about what they are consuming. It’s a win-win.
If you are unsure a snack is warranted after school, consider looking at their schedule. For instance —
- What time does your child eat lunch?
- What are they eating for lunch?
- Do they have any other snacks after lunch?
- What time will they be eating dinner?
Plan snacks accordingly so that your child always feels well nourished and void of hunger pangs.
What’s In a Snack?
While eating a snack can be a good thing, you don’t want your ravenous little one to walk in the door from school and start shoveling anything and everything into their mouth. Making better food choices available can make snack time healthy and nutritious.
You know you don’t want your child reaching for sugary, processed snacks, but what should you be focused on? What is the ideal snack made of?
When it comes to having snacks on hand for your kiddos, you want emphasis on:
- Whole foods
- Whole grains
- Low sugar
There are many different enticing options available if you stick to these rather than turning to boxed, pre-packaged snacks that have little to no nutritional value.
Healthy After-School Snack Ideas
Looking for some ideas for healthy after-school snacks? We have a few for you.
- Fresh fruits
- Cut-up veggies with hummus is a great option, but a healthy ranch may be more appealing
- Greek yogurt
- Smoothies filled with all kinds of fruits and veggies, naturally sweetened.
- Trail mix
- Nuts and seeds
- Frozen banana bites
- Healthy muffins made with whole food ingredients and veggies, naturally sweetened.
- Chia pudding
- Cold meat and cheese with pita
- Nut butter on whole wheat bread
- Air-popped popcorn
The idea is to get creative. Some kids get comfortable eating the same foods over and over whereas others get bored with it and want change. Make snack time fun by getting them involved in it.
Talk about healthy choices and give options. Together, you can then plan out weekly snacks. Not only does this teach your child about making smart choices, but it makes life much easier on busy school days.