8 Healthy Snacks for Your Pre-Schooler:
Healthy eating habits begin when children are young so it is important to start showing him the importance of nutrition as early as possible. Your pre-schooler is full of energy and needs a good healthy snack with the right nutrients to get him through the day. To promote general growth and development your child needs 3 balanced meals a day and some healthy snacks as well. At this age around 3-4 hours between meals is normal.
By giving your child healthy snacks, you can help him see snack-time differently, as in that it doesn’t always have to be deep fried or store bought food. The Indian cuisine, great as it is, has many deep-fried and unhealthy foods which should be treated more as a once-in-a-while treat than a regular every-day snack. If you set limits and help your pre-schooler snack smart then he will carry these habits later on as well.
Here are some suggestions as to what to include in a snack box or general snacking ideas for your pre-schooler:
1. A popular layman’s way of telling if a meal is healthy is if it is colourful. That way you know you have included different nutrients. You can add different coloured fruits, cut up in small pieces. Home made Pav Bhajji, with as many different vegetables as possible, can become a very healthy meal and not just an all-time favourite snack.(how to get your child to eat vegetables)
2. Dips are fun ways to make kids eat healthily. They usually do not require any real cooking (heat application) which helps preserve majority of the nutrients. Hummus, mint curd dip, salsa are all healthy dips that kids can eat with carrot and cucumber sticks or toasted bread.
3. Home made popcorn (for which the seeds are sold separately and not the 2-minute ready to eat ones) made with a little oil and salt can also be a good snack and you can make it a nutrient packed one by caramelising it with jaggery.
4. Eating nuts such as almonds, walnuts and peanuts as a snack is another healthy snacking option. These nuts have fatty oils that are good for your child and provide a lot of energy as it is high-calorie as well. However ensure that children don’t binge eat on these nuts as it can lead to stomach upsets.
5. Bread pizza is a popular snack where you can pack in lots of nutrients with capsicums, mushrooms, tomatoes, corn etc. Simply spread a little ketchup on a slice of bread, put as many veggies as it can hold, top with some cheese and pop in the oven. Ensure your child eats all the veggies on the pizza by agreeing beforehand on what the toppings will be. You can add meat to the pizza to include some protein in the snack as well.
6. Most children have a strong sweet tooth. Instead of giving your pre-schooler store bought, highly processed cookies and biscuits you can try making them on your own at home. For example chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies have quite a few nutrients and will be popular with your kids. Extra points if you can put raisins in them! (Raw cookie dough can usually be frozen and made when needed) (You can also help your pre-schooler learn his alphabets using cookies! See Fun activities to teach your child the letters of the alphabet).
The internet is full of recipes as well as tutorials and it will be worth the effort to save your child from these unhealthy, chemically laced products. The fewer processed foods in his/her diet, the better (Alternatives to junk food).
However the best option is a fruit and if your preschooler can be satisfied with an apple then there’s nothing like it.
7. Vegetable paranthas (made with cabbage, spinach, carrot etc.) are also very healthy and can be eaten with a little raita. This is a popular and healthy option for a mid-morning preschool snack. You can nickname them differently according to colour i.e. ‘green parantha’ ‘ yellow parantha’ or ‘red parantha’ to make it more appealing to your child.
8. Shredded meat filling in a sandwich or toast (preferably whole wheat or multi-grain bread) is another way to get carbohydrates and proteins. Round it out with some salad like cucumber and tomatoes.