Three Types of Snacks You Should Never Give Your Kids

Kids and snacks just go together and as a parent I know there is no way I will ever stop my kids from snacking. Honestly, there is really nothing wrong with snacking as long as the foods you pick are not really bad for you and you don’t snack constantly. ‘Everything in moderation’ is our mantra and it seems to work for us. The hard part about snacks is making sure they are healthy for your children or at least not really bad for them! So how do you make sure you have healthy snacks for kids in your pantry that will not only satisfy your kids but also is healthy for them? It is tough but if you make sure you keep a variety of items that do not have HIGH sugar, HIGH salt and HIGH bad fat you are on your way to having healthy kids. Let’s find out more about each category.

HIGH SUGAR SNACKS

There are certain snacks you should simply never give your kids and on top of the list is anything that has a high sugar content. The bottom line is sugary snacks are simply not good for you and are empty calories meaning they normally provide no nutritional value to your kids and the calories do nothing for them (outside of packing on the pounds.) It is amazing to High Sugar Snackssee the sugar content in foods these days and sometimes I cannot understand how companies can put these things on the shelves. Take regular old Coca-Cola for example. A 12oz can of regular Coke contains roughly 8 teaspoons of sugar and some kids drink a couple of cans of this stuff every day of every week.  Anything high in sugar should not be a regular snacking option for children, although there is nothing wrong with a candy bar here or there to satisfy a child’s sweet tooth. High sugar snacks include:

  1. Soda, soft drinks, pop, etc.
  2. Fruit snacks (and we’re talking about those little jelly snacks that are labeled ‘Made With Real Fruit’ but have a ton of sugar.
  3. Cookies (i.e. Oreos, Chocolate Chip, just about anything in the cookie aisle of your grocery store)
  4. Most fruit juices in those little juice boxes or flashy looking containers (i.e Hi-C, Juicy Juice, Capri Sun, etc.)
  5. Ice Cream, frozen popsicles, ice slush, slushies, Slurpies, etc.

These items need to be “once in a while” snacks and not everyday snacks. Now do not take this sugar thing the wrong way. I know fruits have natural sugars in them and I am not saying take away the fruit. What I am suggesting is to take away the sodas, candy bars and other junk foods that are high in processed sugars that do nothing more than pack on pounds and lead your children down the road to future health issues, namely diabetes. There are tons of things (like fruit) that are really good for children and that can satisfy the sugar cravings but we’ll leave the good snacks for another article!

HIGH SALT SNACKS

Salt (or Sodium) is the second no-no on our list when it comes to health snacks for kids and it’s another tough thing to take away as most snacks have high levels of sodium. So why am I suggesting taking away salty snacks?

Healthy Snacks For KidsFor one, salt affects blood pressure levels in adults as well as children and can lead to heart problems later in life. Salt also makes you more thirsty and for kids that means grabbing more sugary drinks which has been linked to childhood obesity.  Sodium is in just about everything our kids consume these days and keeping an eye on their salt intake is extremely important to avoid health problems like these.

But if you are like me you were probably saying “I don’t put any salt on my child’s food so I should be ok.” Guess again. I was surprised to find out how much salt is actually hidden in many sweet snacks like cakes, cookies and breakfast cereals. Kids are actually getting more sodium from a bowl of Corn Flakes in the morning (300mg) than a serving of high sodium potato chips (200mg.) The recommended daily allowance of sodium is quite small for younger kids (around 2-3 grams per day) so monitoring what snack foods your child is eating is extremely important for their health.

HIGH FAT SNACKS

When I talk about high fat snacks I am mainly talking about snacks that contain the bad fats which are Saturated Fats and Trans Fats.  These are the fats that raise your cholesterol levels, clog arteries and over time can lead to many health problems. When selecting snacks for your children make sure you are picking foods that contain low levels of saturated fats High Fat Snacksand if possible steer totally clear of trans fats all together. Some snacks like whole milk dairy products, foods made with hydrogenated vegetable oils, donuts, fried foods, pastries, pies and cakes contain high levels of saturated fats which is why I suggest that parents do everything they can to pick more healthy snacks for kids.

A good guideline to stick with when it comes to fat consumption comes from the American Heart Association which provides the following suggestions:

  1. Only 25-30% of your child’s total calories each day should be from fat.
  2. Less than 7% of your child’s total calories each day should be from saturated fat.
  3. Less than 1% of your child’s total calories each day should be from trans fat.

So for example, if your child should be eating 1,500 calories per day and we know that each gram of fat contains 9 calories, then your child should be consuming approximately 40-45 grams of dietary fat each day (max.) Just make sure your children are not consuming all of their fat calories with sugary unhealthy snacks.

CONCLUSION

Parents need to understand that controlling the types of snacks children eat on a daily basis is not something that is difficult to do but it does take a lot of vigilance. By following the guidelines of staying away from high sugar, high salt and high fat snacks and incorporating more healthier options into a child’s diet, parents can promote great health habits for their children and teach them great eating habits that will follow them the rest of their lives. For more information on healthy snacks for kids, keep checking back here as we’ll be providing suggestions and recipes for some great snacks kids will love. Good luck to you!

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