What do you think of when it is snack time for toddlers? Pudding cups, fruit rollups, candy bars, cookies, chips, cheese puffs, soda, and Kool-aid. Most people can agree that these are not healthy, especially for children. These are the years you teach habits; help them develop a taste for what they do and do not like, and can set them up to be healthy or unhealthy later in life. Unfortunately for most of us, life is fast and we don’t always have the time to make snacks or meals for our children. Or we do not have the energy to argue with them about what they can and cannot eat.
This is not an area where you want to compromise or settle. Teaching children to eat a whole food diet, one that is rich in fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and unprocessed grains, can be a first step in getting them to be healthy adults. One of the places many people take short cuts is with snacks.
Why would a child choose to eat carrots when there are cookies in the house? The first step is to stop buying things if they are not whole foods. If there are no chips, then children cannot convince you to give them some. Next is to choose to eat the same snacks as them. If you are drinking a can of Coke or Pepsi, they will want some too. Choose water, low fat milk, or natural fruit or even vegetable juice.
So what are some good snack ideas for stubborn toddlers? Start by deciding what type of snack they are looking for. If they want chips, chances are a crispy snack may work. Try carrot or celery sticks, broccoli florets, or sliced apple.
Maybe they want candy bars, fruit bars, cookies, or other sweat snacks. Thankfully there are many great whole foods that are sweat without being too unhealthy. Many fruits like oranges, grapes, melons, or even ripened tomatoes may satisfy a sweat tooth.
If children are asking for soda or other sugar drinks, look for healthy substitutes. Fresh squeezed fruit juices can be good in moderation. Be sure to avoid adding too much sugar or other sweeteners. It may even be possible to get children to drink vegetable juices.
Homemade carrot and tomato juice can be filled with many other whole foods that children may not realize are there. And making them at home means you do not have to worry about overloading children with the sodium that comes in store bought juices. And always be sure they drink plenty of water before switching to juices. It is cheap and it is hard to beat the calorie count!
Any changes you force on your children, you should go along with as well. After all, they are great at mimicking what they see mom, dad, other adults, or people on TV do. So teach yourself to snack on whole fruits and vegetables and drink water or fresh juices rather than soda or other sugary drinks. You will be teaching your children great habits while improving your own health at the same time.