Are you struggling to reduce treats in your home? You are not alone, new research shows that a fifth of calorie intake for 2-4 year olds is treat food like biscuits, chocolate, soft drinks and savoury snacks. This rises to a quarter of calorie intake for primary school children. The research also found that children are getting treats instead of healthy snacks during the day.
To help, we have teamed up with the START campaign, to give you some satisfying healthy snack ideas to keep your kids full of energy throughout the day. START is a public health campaign from safefood, Departments of Health in Ireland and Northern Ireland, Healthy Ireland, the HSE and the public health agency.
Healthy Snack Ideas and Tips for Kids
What Kind of Snack is Required?
Children should eat between 2 and 3 snacks a day to help keep energy levels up. Offering healthy snacks is important, not only nutritionally but also to help your children as they grow.
Kids look for snacks for a variety of reasons so here’s some things to consider before deciding what to offer them:
- Length of time to their next meal and length of time since their last meal
- They may actually be thirsty so is a drink of milk or water what they need?
- Will a light snack like a piece of fruit keep them satisfied until mealtime?
- If they are hungry after school or physical activity, you may need to give them a more filling snack
Healthy ‘go to’ Snack ideas
Having a range of healthy snacks to offer when hunger strikes is the best way to ensure you are offering good choices. So next time you go shopping, include these in your basket so you are not caught out when the kids proclaim they are starving!
Lighter snack options can include:
- Chopped raw vegetables
- Glass of milk or water
- Small portion of nuts or seeds
- A kids-sized yogurt
- 1-2 crackers, oatcakes, rice cakes or bread sticks
- Small portion of air popped pop corn
For more filling healthy snacks try:
- Small portion of cheese and crackers
- Sliced apple or pear with nut butter
- Hummus with raw vegetables for dipping
- Kids-sized yogurt with fruit
- Mashed banana and wholemeal toast
- Boiled egg with a slice of wholemeal toast
- Homemade soup
- Small bowl of cereal with milk
- Egg muffin
- Slice of cooked meat
- Small wholemeal pitta with cheese or cooked meat or dip
- Slice of wholemeal bread toasted
- Pizza soldiers
- Wholemeal scone with a little butter
- Air popped popcorn with grated parmesan
- Baked oat bar
For more ideas and recipes on healthy snacks check out MakeaStart.ie
Healthy Muffin Recipes
Next time you make a batch of muffins consider freezing some so you have a handy, healthy snack ready when the kids are looking for a pick me up. Here are a couple of healthy muffin recipes ideal for a quick snack between meals or as an after-dinner treat.
- Quick and easy blueberry muffins
- Protein-packed egg muffins
Let’s go easy on the treats
Keep hunger at bay with these healthy snack ideas for kids all brought to you by START
Baked Oat Bar Recipe
Oats are filling and nutritious and we love these homemade oat bars. Best of all they will last in an airtight container for a week and can be frozen to use at a later date too.
They have just 6 ingredients and are ready to eat in about 30 minutes. Get the recipe here.
Go Easy on the Treats
For many, treats are a part of our daily diet and it can be difficult to say no or not reach for a treat when everyone is tired, ‘hangry’, upset, busy or you are on the go. But treat foods provide very little in terms of nutrition and can leave us feeling more tired more hungry and less fulfilled than we want.
Making healthier decisions around food and forming good habits with your kids will benefit them for life. The START campaign has a range of tips to help you give treats in smaller amounts and less often.