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What is a healthy snack?

All parents want what’s best for their children, but here’s a fact that might shock you; the second most commonly food group eaten by children now is junk food – foods high in sugar, fat and salt. These are most often eaten as snacks.

Snacking is a normal and healthy part of everyday family life, especially when our kids are growing, always on the go and always hungry! But, over the years, it has become a norm to give treat food like crisps, sweets, sugary drinks and bars to children as snacks. This is what we have to change. Children need snacks that are healthy and nutritious.

Here’s our advice on how to ensure your kids are snacking on food that is good for them.

Make a list of healthy snacks  

Come up with a list of healthy snacks with your kids that they like. This will give them a sense of control.

Have healthy snack options at the ready

When you have a list of agreed snacks, try to have them readily available for when your kids say they are hungry between meals or need a snack.

Snacks don’t always have to be sweet

There are lots of savoury snacks options that kids enjoy such as 2-3 crackers with small slices of cheese or toast with peanut butter. And if you’re on the go, a small bag of popcorn or a single portion of cheese packs are easy to grab from the shop.

Vary snacks throughout the week

To help keep snacks fun for your child, try to include savoury and sweet options. A sweet snack could be plain yoghurt with chopped or stewed fruit. A savoury one might be cheese on wholemeal toast.

Cut down on daily treats

It’s okay for you and your children to have a small treat once or twice a week. Work out which days are treat days with your kids so everyone is clear on what to expect.

Keep treats out of sight

To encourage kids to eat healthy snacks when they are hungry, avoid having fatty and sugary treat foods or drinks freely available. Instead, have fruit and healthy foods in easy to reach places so your kids become familiar with seeing them as snack options. 

Tell your family and friends your plan

It’s important to share your plan to encourage healthy snacks with family and friends so everyone knows what’s going on. Explain the changes you are making, so that they understand and respect that you want your kids to eat healthy snacks not treats.  

Kids do what they see

Children are more likely to learn from seeing how their parents behave rather than from what parents tell them. If your child sees you eating an apple as a snack and enjoying it, they will be encouraged to try one too.

© The Food Safety Promotion Board