Ideas to improve children's snacks

Olga Amado

19 May, 2021

Promoting a healthy, balanced diet also includes snacking, so we shouldn’t forget it. 

In many cases, our children's snack after school has become a meal full of sugars, industrial flours, refined fats and additives ... more guided by the desires of children and, why not say- ho, of the little planning that we adults do. 
 
One may think that children can eat everything and it won’t hurt them, but let’s think coldly: is this argument valid? Does it justify having free bar every afternoon of chocolates, commercial juices, industrial cookies, cheap pastries, snacks, candies, or sugary dairy desserts? 

Why do you need a snack?

Promoting a healthy, balanced diet also includes snacking, so we shouldn’t forget that. The snack, although it is a small meal compared to the others we make throughout the day is interesting for different reasons:
  • It helps us get to dinner without a fierce appetite.
  • It prevents us from itching all afternoon if it’s nutritious enough.
  • It helps us not get fat.
  • And, above all, it is essential for all those children who practice some sport or physical activity after school.

What can they snack on? 

Traditionally the snack should include a dairy, some cereal and a piece of fruit, but it’s also a good time to eat nuts, seeds, some cocoa or a slice of cooked ham. 
 
Here are some easy, tasty and healthy snack ideas:
  • Yogurt with mango and cereal 
  • Milkshake with strawberries, banana and oats
  • Toast with fresh cheese, avocado and cherries 
  • Yogurt with nutmeg and carrot juice
  • Yogurt with cookies and hazelnuts and tangerine
  • Toast with peanut butter and apple   
  • Bread with cheese and quince and watermelon juice 
  • Rice crackers with ham and fresh cheese and orange juice  
  • Milk shake with almonds, banana and a touch of cocoa powder
  • Yogurt with blueberries and chia seeds 

Snacks and sports  

When children do extracurricular physical activity or play a sport, this snack should be different. For children athletes, it is important to achieve a positive energy balance, ie that the energy provided throughout the day is sufficient to carry out the activities of daily living and also those of sports. When these needs are not met properly, eating less, too much or badly can lead to problems such as poor school or sports performance, growth and development problems, eating disorders or being overweight.
 
The energy requirements they are variable depending on the age of the child, the total volume of training and also the intensity of this. To give an example, a seven-year-old boy who practices judo two hours a week is not the same as a twelve-year-old swimmer who trains ninety minutes five days a week. Therefore, there is no single recipe for everyone, and the most appropriate would be an individual assessment. 
 
Anyway, the snack should be practical, with a sufficient energy density in accordance with the sport that will be done below. For most children's extracurricular sports activities, which usually last about an hour and take place two or three days a week, snacks do not have to be very different from that of another child who do not play sports: a piece of fruit or a glass of natural fruit juice accompanied by a dairy (yogurt, cheese or milk), and a serving of cereal such as two slices of bread or four wholemeal cookies or half a bowl of sugar-free cereal additions are enough for snacking. They can also be combined with a little ham, honey, cocoa, peanut butter, seeds, nuts or avocado to make it more complete. 
 
For children who practice high intensity sport, who do more than six hours a week of sport, some considerations need to be taken into account for optimal sports performance:
  • · If possible, it is recommended to eat a couple of hours before the activity to avoid gastrointestinal problems. 
  • · You need to choose foods that are easy to digest: low in fiber and low in fat. It can happen that the workout is almost in the evening when it has been a long time since you have had a snack, then you can eat something very light half an hour before the workout like a juice and some bread sticks or a handful of cereal. But it can also be the other way around, that the time of training sticks to the exit of the school and does not allow to make a very complete snack. In this case, I recommend that it be distributed in a snack between before and after doing sports, but avoiding that the latter is very copious to avoid making you lose your appetite for dinner or dinner very early and if you need to take a sip.    
 
And remember! Just as important as a snack is good hydration. A couple of hours before training it is recommended to drink half a liter of water, during exercise the equivalent of a glass every twenty minutes and after exercise a glass of water per hour of effort made. Children should drink water although they can also drink isotonic drinks, but not sugary juices or soft drinks. 
 

 

the author

Olga Amado

Responsible Area of ​​health of the Llinars Sport

Graduate in medicine and surgery (UAB). Specialist in Physical Activity and Sports Medicine (UB). Master in Nutrition and Food (UB).

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