As every mom knows, shopping for snacks is a constant tug-of-war between what their kids want and what they need, nutritionally speaking. Oftentimes, unhealthy favorites can end up in the cart to save time and money. However, that can mean that kids are eating heaping doses of added sugars, or sugars and syrups that are added to processed foods.
A report by the American Heart Association states that American children should eat or drink no more than 25 grams of added sugars daily, which equals about 100 calories. This is in stark contrast to the fact that American children usually consume much more than that every day.
The bottom line is that added sugar is probably sneaking its way into your child's diet, and it may be time to take a closer look at which snacks your child eats.
Added Sugar Is Everywhere
Eating too many sugary snacks can cause tooth decay, obesity, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes — not to mention poor dietary habits that can last a lifetime.
Finding sugar in kids' snacks can be tricky. Some snacks — such as candy and chocolate, soft drinks, ice cream and packaged sweets — are easy to spot.
Unfortunately, seemingly healthy snacks can be just as loaded with sugar. Common culprits include packaged protein or snack bars, breakfast cereals, bottled smoothie drinks and pre-packaged oatmeal. Many of the yogurts marketed toward kids contain as much sugar as a candy bar.
Incorporating healthier snack options will not only help your kids get the nutrients they need to grow up strong, it'll set them up for nutritional success for years to come.
Healthy Snacks Your Kids Will Love
Snacking healthy doesn't have to mean eating like a bird or blowing your budget. Here are some delicious and affordable snacks that your kids (and you, too) will crave.
Cheese is loaded with protein and calcium and no added sugar. Fun-to-eat string cheese or cheese slices served alongside apple slices, carrot sticks or grapes is a healthy and satisfying snack that kids will love.
Nature’s candy — fresh peaches, plums, apples, grapes, bananas and just about any other fruit — makes for a great snack that's naturally sweet.
Natural Peanut Butter
For most kids, protein-packed peanut butter is a welcome menu staple. Choose natural peanut butter, which comes without added sugars and other unhealthy ingredients. Try it with apple slices, bananas, celery or whole-wheat toast.
Hummus and Other Dips
These days, hummus comes in a variety of flavors that are equally appealing to kids and adults. Serve it with sliced veggies, pita chips or toasted pita bread. If hummus is a no-go in your house, try salsa or black bean dip instead.
This whole-grain snack isn't just a crowd-pleaser at the movie theater. For at-home popcorn, avoid the microwave bags and go for the stovetop kernels; they’re healthier and more cost-effective, too. Once it's popped, dress it up with all kinds of tasty toppings, from cinnamon to grated cheese to a light sprinkling of dry ranch dressing mix.
This snack requires a little detective work, too, as some store-bought trail mixes are loaded with added sugar and sodium. Look for bags with only whole ingredients, like unsalted nuts, dried fruit, yogurt chips or even dark chocolate. Or, buy the ingredients in bulk and make your own mix.
100% Fruit Juice
What kid doesn't love fruit juice? However, not all juices are created equal. Read labels closely to make sure you're buying 100% fruit juice with no added sugar, rather than a fruit beverage that’s loaded with corn syrup and only a fraction of actual juice.
Supporting Healthy Kids and Moms, Too
Getting your kids to eat healthfully is just one part of helping them build a healthy lifestyle. At AdventHealth, we’re dedicated to caring for kids and supporting moms in as many little ways as we can. Learn more about our children’s care services near you.