Q. I would like to give my children healthier snacks. Now they tend to get things like potato chips, banana chips, the round buns, the trail mix with dried fruit and nuts. I also try to insist on a fruit. But I read that snacking can cause them to put on weight. Am I giving them too much food? Should I try to wean them off the snacking and just have their regular meals? Wouldn’t want them to grow obese. Help please.
The purpose of snacks is to make good any nutritional deficit not obtained from the meals. There is also the question of the timing of snacks relative to meals. Children eat snacks since they USUALLY have small appetites and run an energy and nutrient deficit from 3 meals daily. For me to recommend suitable snacks, I would need to meet with you and them to assess their current intake to determine any deficits relative to their individual nutritional needs.
For instance, if the meals are short of calcium, then you could try yogurt, cheese or milk – the quantities would depend on their individual needs. Fresh fruits, high in vitamins A and C are good since these are also usually deficient from meals – but not necessarily so if they already take juices and vegetables containing these vitamins. The sugar content of juices would be of concern. For iron, dried fruits such as raisins and tamarind balls are good but again quantity is important. These also provide dietary fibre which is good.
The snacks you have named offer primarily carbohydrate and fat although they may also be a source of dietary fibre and phytonutrients. If these are the deficits, then the snacks are appropriate but this depends on the sodium content. Depending on the size of the snack packs, these can run from 200 calories to 450 calories in the case of the round bun. Also suitable for these requirements are nuts of various types.