Thursday 30 October 2014

Give children's snacks a particularly healthy twist

Published 26/08/2014 | 02:30

Children's food choices are critical to their healthy development
Children's food choices are critical to their healthy development

SNACKS for children can be a healthy part of their diet - provided parents try to give them the right kind of foods.

Dr Catherine Logan, nutrition manager of the National Dairy Council said: "Before tackling that all-important homework, an after-school snack may be on the cards.

"While some people perceive snacking as a bad habit, it can actually play an important role in the diet, especially for some children who, due to their relatively small body size, can only eat small amounts of food in one sitting.

"However, food choices are critical - snacks should be nutritious and based on the individual's overall diet and lifestyle. Some great examples are: fresh fruit, yogurt, vegetable sticks with a hummus or yogurt dip, small wholemeal scone or bowl of homemade vegetable soup."

Children often like food they can eat with their fingers, so chop up raw veggies such as carrots or peppers, and give them hummus or cottage cheese to dip the veggies in. Breadsticks and wholemeal crackers are great finger foods and they can be spread with low-fat soft cheese or eaten with reduced-fat cheddar and pickles.

Advising on the back to school brigade she suggested establishing a routine around meals; three meals per day, plus snacks as required.

Sandwich tips include:

- Tuna with chopped mixed peppers and light mayo

- Cheddar cheese with green salad leaves and tomato relish

- Chicken salad with green salad leaves, sliced cucumber, tomato

- Chopped or mashed boiled egg with spinach leaves and light mayo

- Turkey with sweetcorn and crunchy peppers

- Tuna with chopped red onion, sweetcorn and light mayo

- Grated cheese and sliced tomato

- Hummus and mixed vegetables -chopped peppers, chopped tomatoes and sweetcorn

- Chicken with crunchy peppers and mild salsa-type relish.

Don't forget exercise with national guidelines advising that children and young people (two-18 years of age) should be active, at a moderate to vigorous level, for at least 60 minutes every day. This can include sport, active play and PE, as well as every day activities such as cycling.

"Muscle-strengthening, flexibility and bone-strengthening exercises should be included three times a week.

"It is best to establish healthy lifestyle and eating habits from a young age and set a good example."

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