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Snacks as part of children’s diets

Snacks as part of children’s diets

Haralambos Georgakakis

Clinical Dietician - Nutritionist M.Sc.

The “in-between” meals eaten during the day may, together with breakfast, be the most important meals in a child's diet. Figures show that by organising children’s snacks better at school and at home, we can avoid unnecessary calories and excessive consumption of ingredients such as saturated fat, sugar and sodium - salt. When we talk about a healthy diet for a child, this means we need to organise the "on-the-run" meals which are eaten between the main meals (lunch and dinner).

As for the quality of a healthy snack, it should include essential ingredients such as carbohydrates, proteins and micronutrients such as calcium. These ingredients will give the child enough energy and will also help him/her to develop properly. Some suggestions for a healthy snack are:

  • 1 healthy milk shake made with semi-skimmed milk (up to 2% fat) and fresh fruit mixed in the blender with 1 or 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 1 toasted sandwich or Arabic pita bread with cheese and boiled turkey and 1 fruit
  • 1 fruit salad made with fresh fruit and honey and 1 yogurt (2% fat)
  • 1 bagel with 1 piece of cheese
  • 1 glass of milk with cereal and honey
  • 1 sesame seed bar

However, because children never stop asking for treats, and banning certain foods does not always have the desired results, it is a good idea to give children some more enticing choices. However, these should be home-made so you know exactly what ingredients have been used. Make biscuits or cake at home, give them to you child one or twice a week. If his/her favorite snack is a croissant or 2-3 chocolate cookies, allow him/her to eat it once a week.

At this point it should be noted that a frequent excuse given for why children do not to eat breakfast or do not take a snack with them is, as well as a lack of parents’ time, that it takes time to prepare food and there is not time to do this before school in the morning. So, if you do not have much time between your child waking up in the morning and leaving for school, you need to be better organsied. Getting your child’s school bag and clothes ready the night before, will give you and your child more time in the morning. Instead of looking for books, finishing off some of the homework he/she should have done the night before, or deciding what clothes to wear, your child can enjoy a good breakfast and you can prepare a healthy snack without getting stressed.

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