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What is a healthy snack?

Snacking is normal and healthy, especially at a time when your child is growing rapidly and very active. Children often get hungry between meals and it’s important that snacks provide important nutrients, in the same way their meals do. The challenge for many parents is that children often want the unhealthy snack option. So here are our top tips on healthy snacking.

Create a list of healthy snack options

Create a list of healthy snacks for your child and add these to your shopping list. Your child can help choose a snack from the list. This gives them some feeling of control. Ask your child what their four favourite fruits and vegetables are. This way you can offer them snacks that you know they like and will be more willing to eat.

Snacks don’t always have to be sweet

There are a number of savoury snacks that are really delicious. For example, why not try some vegetable sticks (carrots, celery, cucumber or pepper), a small bowl of plain popcorn, pitta bread or crackers with hummus or cream cheese, a piece of cheese, a sandwich with cherry tomatoes, or a small peanut butter and banana sandwich.

Vary the snacks

Eating the same snacks may become boring for your child. Try making fruit kebabs, funny faces using vegetables, cut sandwiches into fun shapes using cookie cutters, or make your own healthy alternative to an ice pop by dipping a banana into some yoghurt and freezing it.

Try to include 2-3 food groups

Snacks can be more interesting if they contain more than one food. Try fruit/vegetable sticks with hummus or cream cheese, a hard-boiled egg with a slice of wholemeal toast, hummus served with wholemeal pitta or rice cakes or apple slices with cream cheese.

Try to avoid buying less healthy snacks when you are shopping

If you don’t buy them, they can’t eat them. And if they are genuinely hungry, they will start eating the healthy snacks that you offer them.

Keep less healthy snacks for an occasional treat

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

© The Food Safety Promotion Board