The rising obesity rates in America have turned our attention to the need for eating a healthier diet. It’s an issue that is especially important for kids. The CDC has reported that over the last three decades childhood obesity has doubled, while adolescent obesity has quadrupled.
These sobering statistics point to the fact that creating healthy eating habits early on is crucial. The habits people create as children will stay with them as they get older, which is one reason why the adolescent obesity rates are twice as high as childhood obesity rates.
The entire month of March is National Nutrition Month. It’s a great opportunity to begin creating healthier eating habits, starting with after school snacks that help kids keep their bodies evenly fueled throughout the day.
Our Top 5 Tips for Eating Healthier After School Snacks
At Pro-Vision Academy we teach our students about the importance of eating fresh fruits and vegetables at our Urban Farm. Students get the opportunity to take part in planting, growing and enjoying the delicious, nutritious food that’s produced on our campus. It’s an after school program that gives kids a better appreciation for where their food comes from and helps them connect with the food that they eat. As a result our students say their favorite snacks include healthy options like apples, bananas, Go-Gurt and fruit snacks.
Here are a few more ways you can encourage kids to snack healthier after school:
Give Kids a Variety of Healthy Options – Even if something tastes great, it can get boring eating the same thing. By providing a variety of options, kids are given a choice in their snacks and are able to switch it up so that their taste buds don’t get bored. Other benefits include a more balanced diet and a higher likelihood that kids will try new foods.
Practice Proper Portioning – We’ve all heard the saying ‘too much of a good thing.’ Some healthy snacks like carrot sticks are fine to eat in abundance, while others, such as peanut butter, avocados and pretzels, should be eaten in smaller portions. One solution to this is buying snacks in single portions, or it may be more cost effective to invest in Tupperware containers and ration food out at home. For additional guidance on healthy portions check out the food portion charts at HealthyEating.org.
Follow a Snack Schedule – Establishing a snack schedule helps create structure and ensures that kids won’t spoil their dinner by snacking at the wrong time. Schedule snacks so that they are earlier in the afternoon around 4pm.
Have Fun – Let kids get creative with their snacks before they eat them. Allow them to invent their own snack creations or decorate a snack with edible extras. The more engaged kids are the more invested they’ll be in what they’re eating. Visit ChooseMyPlate.gov for a lot of fun snack ideas that will make kids of all ages smile.
Make It Easy to Snack Healthy – Kids often reach for food that is familiar and easy to eat. You can encourage kids to snack healthy by doing some of the work for them. First, buy healthier options whenever possible so there isn’t junk food they can grab instead. Also take the time to wash fruits and vegetables, package them up in containers and put healthy snacks front and center in the refrigerator or pantry.
If you’d like to help us promote healthy eating, learn about our volunteering opportunities at the Urban Farm. Horticulturists, chefs and many community members all contribute to the farm and help our students live happier, healthier lives.