Handy snacks to keep your children on track
Hangry children after school? Have healthy snacks on standby.
Iím poolside again, but not with my feet up and a cocktail in hand ó that would be a luxury for a Tuesday afternoon! Instead Iím watching Belle improve her strokes with iSwim. Sheís a natural little fish but a bit kamikaze when it comes to how she gets from A to B. Sheís come along so much in just a few weeks. Itís amazing how fast children pick things up. She must get it from her dad; she definitely doesnít get it from me. I didnít swim much as a kid and, although I love the ocean and the things IN the ocean, I donít really love being in the ocean WITH the things. I am quick to think that every fish or bit of seaweed is actually a shark. Thatís what happens when you grow up landlocked, rarely swimming and watching Jaws for family entertainment.
Right now, Iím just happy Belle is in the pool and laughing as she goes. We had a bit of a run-in on the way over here as Iíd made the fatal mistake of forgetting snacks. Belle gets a little hangry right after school ó sheís always irritable when sheís hungry (now that she definitely does get from me).
Eating regularly through the day is often key to keeping blood sugar balanced. I know weíre often told that snacking is bad but we need to try and ditch that mindset. Snacking is bad when youíre snacking on Doritos and Diet Coke one hour after a big breakfast. Snacking mid-morning and midafternoon when you have smaller, healthy meals is amazing for providing consistent energy and preventing weight gain. I will say that there is a ton of evidence to support elements of fasting too, but I am just not sure that fasting protocols are a good long-term solution within our current food environment. Fasting can be tricky socially and is difficult to maintain when youíre faced with constant temptation. Blood sugar balancing protocols help you to navigate our existing set-up and prevent the cravings that lead to overdosing on doughnuts.
When children get out of school they usually havenít eaten anything for about three hours. Couple that with short lunch times and a rush to head out and play, and youíre often picking up a kid with sugar levels that are on the floor.
I went through a phase of trying not to have any snacks in the car (ant invasion that was horrendous!) but it just wasnít practical. If life after school was going to be harmonious, then I had to have healthy snacks on the go ó especially with after-school activities to factor in as well.
Iíll admit, sometimes the snacks arenít amazing. If I havenít got myself organised then occasionally itís the least offensive cookies (Digestives) and some pistachios from the gas station. We also have Mento Monday, when every other Monday, the children share a packet of Mentos (they are dye-free, but hardly amazing).
I know itís not nutritionally sound, but I give them a handful of nuts to slow down sugar release. So Iím by no means perfect. Real life, people!
However, most of the time (and itís most of the time that matters) I have something healthy on hand. I try and switch things up so the children donít get bored. Unfortunately our children are so used to lots of choice that they become outrageously picky. I keep telling mine that cave babies didnít say no to the deer and berries their parents dragged in ó you either ate or you starved. They do get it, but Iím pretty sure they give me a secret eye roll, too.
Anyway, if you need kid-friendly healthy snacks on the go, then hereís a real-life list for you:
1. At the gas station
Having a day when youíre a hot mess? Everyone has days when all the plans go out of the window. Your best bet if you have to stop for convenience food would be a simple cookie (try a British brand like Digestives vs American brands and youíre more likely to skip artificial colours and GMOs) and some nuts. Re: the nuts, go plain too. So some simple almonds or pistachios rather than the ones with an extra ten layers of flavour. If it has to be something salty/crunchy, then better the home-popped popcorn or plain chips. Skip anything with artificial dyes, hidden sugars (things like maltodextrin) or anything processed into an unrecognisable shape.
2. Made Good bars
My absolute favourite granola bar brand for children. This Canadian brand is a serious win. Small portions, low sugar, nut-free, high fibre. They have a great range of flavours and packaging thatís fun enough not to be off-putting to children. These bars and bites are available in most grocery stores now. If you do go with the Rice Krispie treats, then definitely give nuts as well, otherwise your children will be hungry again in a hot second.
3. KIND bars
These are higher calorie and great for children on their way to an after school activity. I would pick anything from the Nuts & Spices range (it says ďNuts & SpicesĒ under the KIND logo vs ďFruit & NutĒ). The Nuts & Spices range is lower in sugar and higher in protein. Some of them have chocolate (yea) and all are OK with some lower-sugar fruit, too ó berries, kiwi, etc. An apple is fine if the children have otherwise been low sugar or are on their way to some kind of sport!
4. Other bars and cookies
Next best options for bars/cookies would be the Annieís range or Barbaraís Snackimals. Anything thatís sugar is best with a few nuts too; so keep almonds on stand by. Kids that donít like nuts are often won over by pistachios, so try that. Walnuts are really rich in Omega 3 which is brilliant for growing brains, but they can be a harder sell. Still, if your kid is starving and itís the only option, you might get lucky!
5. Bake something healthy
If you like to bake something at the weekend to use during the week, then try my Holy Crap cookie recipe or Nutrifit banana bread. Both contain lots of fibre and protein which helps to offset the sweet and provides tons of sustained energy. Iíll post the recipes to social media again over the weekend. Or just Google them along with my name!
6. Fruit/nuts, veggies/hummus, organic cheese with fruit
The classic go-to options. Fresh fruit and any nuts/seeds (ideally not peanuts) or fresh veggies and hummus or guacamole are both good options. If this can be your baseline youíre on to a winner. Give yourself a big pat on the back.
ē Catherine Burns is a fully qualified nutritional therapist trained by the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in the UK. For details: www.natural.bm, 236-7511 or, Facebook, Natural Nutrition Bermuda