School’s out for summer! The summer holidays may prompt a change in a child’s routine, but it’s still important to keep up healthy eating habits, especially when offering snacks for the little ones.
Good eating habits formed in early life can last a lifetime.
Here are some tips to incorporate this summer:
- First and foremost, consider if a snack is needed – if it’s nearly time for lunch or dinner, you could offer a glass of milk or a small piece of fruit instead of a bigger snack.
- Try to have regular meal and snack times for your child – like starting the day with a nutritious breakfast, offering snacks a few hours after one meal ends, and one or two hours before the next meal. This can ensure a healthy appetite at mealtimes. Our dietitian Orna O’Brien recommends limiting snacks, “they can be offered one to three times a day.” Remember that snacks are just supposed to keep hunger at bay – they are not supposed to replace meals.
- Snacking at the table, as opposed to on the go or in front of the TV can prevent overeating if distracted. Sitting down with family for a meal or snacks has lots of benefits.
- It’s also important to make sure that the snacks you’re offering are nutritious. This not only helps improve your child’s diet, but snacks rich in fibre and protein have the added benefit of being filling, keeping the little ones well fueled to enjoy activities throughout the day.
- Of course, when many children think of summer snacks, they may immediately think of sugary treats. We recommend having a bowl of fruit on display in a prominent spot in the kitchen and keeping yogurts at the front of the fridge so that kids see the healthy options first. Try to set a good example by snacking on healthy foods yourself during the day. When it comes to less healthy snack options, out of sight is out of mind!
To sustain your kids for a summer of activity and fun, check out our smart snacking ideas:
- Wholegrain toast, nut butter, and fruit (peanut butter and banana toast is a personal favourite)
- Veggie sticks and hummus (carrots, cucumbers, and sugar snap peas all work well)
- Cheese cubes and grapes – you could even try freezing grapes for an extra-refreshing snack on warm days!
- Small pot of yoghurt, maybe with some chopped fruit or berries for a more filling snack.
- Frozen fruit ice lollies.
- Small handful of unsalted nuts.
- If on the go, portable snack options like bananas, small boxes of raisins, and single portions of cheese work well.
Don’t forget about hydration! A small reusable water bottle can be handy for your child to take around with them and helps them drink enough in the summer weather.