Whether they’re in a club or after-school programme, play on a sports team or go straight home, when the school day is done, all children have something in common — they could use a good snack. Children need healthy fuel after school, but often can be picky about what they’ll reach for. Parents can struggle to find snacks that are portable and provide the protein and nutrition children need, plus deliver on the flavour and fun factor that will ensure their children eat the snack instead of tossing it in the trash.
Hungry for snack ideas? Here are some tips for choosing snacks that parents can feel good about to help keep your children going when the school day ends:
* Pack in protein — Protein is a vital component of a balanced diet, especially for the developing bodies of young children. Choosing a high-protein snack can also help children avoid the energy crash that occurs after consuming sugary snacks.
*Whole grains are great — Whole grains offer a host of healthful nutrients, including B vitamins, minerals, protein, and antioxidants. Children can get whole grains from many sources, including whole-grain breads, but cereal can be a very child-friendly option for whole-grain goodness. Create your own small treat bags of cereal for on-the-go snacks.
* Drink up, drink wisely - At the end of the day, children thirst for something to go with their snack. Before letting children reach for a juice or sports drink, remind them that water is the best beverage for everyone, regardless of what they do after school. Nothing hydrates like H2O, but if your child doesn’t like the taste of plain water, you can find many sugar-free, lightly and naturally flavoured waters to tempt their taste buds.
* Calcium is key - Young bones do a lot of growing, and calcium is essential for bone growth. Children can benefit from snacks rich in calcium - which are, coincidentally, often also rich in protein - such as cheese and yoghurt.
Numerous studies show after-school activities benefit children physically, mentally and socially. Choosing the right after-school snacks can help ensure children get the most enjoyment and nutritional benefits after the school bell rings.