Due to COVID-19, many children are participating in virtual schooling this year. As families try and adjust to the constant changes that come with the “new normal,” maintaining schedules has become increasingly difficult. One byproduct of this upheaval is the unusual focus on snacks.
Does it seem like your kids are always hungry? How many times a day do you hear “can I have a snack”? Here are some tips on how to help with snacking at home:
Create a schedule for the day that includes school, meals, snacks, physical activity, free time, electronic free time, family time, and any other elements that are important to your household. Offer a meal or snack every 3-4 hours for older kids and every 2-3 hours for young children.
Plan out meals and snacks for the week. Write them down so everyone is prepared, knowing what they can have each day. Have kids help with picking out and preparing by asking, “Would you like grapes or apples with your snack on Monday?” It may help to prepare any needed items on a “day off” so they can be easily put together or heated up if needed.
Create a “snack box” by dedicating areas in the refrigerator and pantry specifically for snacks. Portion out snacks into individual baggies or containers so kids have easy access and know what to pick, like a baggie of grapes or carrot sticks with a small container of ranch dip or peanut butter. Other healthful snack ideas include: apple or celery with 1 tablespoon of nut or soy butter, grapes and string cheese, carrot sticks and a boiled egg, light or Greek yogurt with fruit, and veggies and hummus.
Remind kids to drink water between meals and snacks. If possible, get each kid their own refillable water bottle and have a family water challenge: who can drink the most water in a day?
Limit quantities of high calorie, low nutrient foods such as chips, cookies, and candy in the house. These foods can be very tempting to eat in large portions or by the handful throughout the day. Try and help everyone stick to nutrient dense foods, like fruits and vegetables. Avoid eating while engaging with electronics. Encourage taking breaks away from screens for meals and snacks to avoid mindless snacking.
Remember not every day is going to be perfect and that every morning is a new opportunity to begin again on the right track.
Erica Domrose, RD, LD, is a registered and licensed dietitian with the Center for Healthy Weight and Nutrition at Nationwide Children's Hospital. Her areas of interest include promotion of healthy lifestyles and patient and family education.
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