Snacks are an important part of our lives because they keep us filled and on the go. They are always within reach when we need to relax after a hectic day or keep up our energy at work. Plus, snacks are easy to pack for our kids when they are going to school. Snacks are useful when kids need a bite in between meals, and snacks are also what retailers serve us at cinemas. In the modern world, it is an arduous task to avoid snacks.
For parents who intend to raise a healthy child with the appropriate weight, controlling what our kids eat becomes an important task. Parents can find it difficult to motivate a child to eat healthily if healthy, alternative snacks and foods are not available. Since snacks seem to be everywhere, this article will examine some unhealthy snacks and suggest healthy alternatives that are easy to switch to for kids and parents alike.
Sweetened Soda Drinks
Soda is one of the most popular drinks across geographical, cultural, and generational divides. There are hundreds of different forms and brands. However, all forms and brands of soda are carbonated, loaded with sugar (or, in some cases, aspartame), and lacking in required vitamins and minerals. Soda does not support the recommended daily intake of vitamins, and it has no nutritional value.
This claim is substantiated by “Health Effects of Energy Drinks on Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults,” a report by Seifert et al. that was published by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2011. This report found that the consumption of soda comes with severe health risks for children and adolescents. Soda’s associated health risks include obesity, diabetes, cardiac diseases, and psychological illnesses.
Healthy Alternatives (Water and Soda Water)
Water is an essential part of human life. It contains many essential minerals that are lacking in typical soda drinks. In addition, a 2012 research study by Stookey et al. found that replacing sweetened beverages with water reduces energy intake. In other words, drinking water can reduce one’s calorie intake. Therefore, drinking water can help people fight obesity and its associated health risks.
However, if water seems too bland, lemon can be added to give water a nice flavor and more minerals.
Most fruit juices being sold are high in sugar and loaded with preservatives. The preservatives and sugars in these drinks can cause cancer and obesity. Most fruit juices are low in nutritional value and fruit concentrate. They also are abundant with unnatural flavorings and corn syrup (which, on its own, is associated with obesity).
Therefore, parents should look out for these drinks and read their ingredients to ensure their children are consuming what is healthy.
Natural Fruit Juice as a Healthy Alternative
One alternative to unhealthy fruit juice is for parents to get fresh fruits and juicers so they can make natural fruit drinks. Natural fruit drinks are high in sucrose, which is easily digested and absorbed by the body. Natural juices are also rich in antioxidants and vitamins that help in the fight against obesity-associated diseases.
Sweetened Breakfast Cereals
Like soda and unhealthy fruit drinks, sweetened breakfast cereals are easy to prepare for kids; they are the go-to for parents who need to control their already-hectic schedules. However, like most processed foods, sweetened breakfast cereals are very low in fiber. They are also loaded with sugars and have low satiety value (meaning that they are bad at decreasing hunger and increasing energy). Sweetened breakfast cereals are recipes for obesity and metabolic syndrome.
While such breakfast cereals do have supplemental vitamins, the bioavailability of these vitamins is reduced. Therefore, parents should seek healthy alternatives and should not make eating sweetened breakfast cereals a habit for their children.
Healthy Alternatives to Breakfast Cereals (Homemade Oats and Plain Yoghurt)
Breakfast cereals that are high in fiber and low in added sugar are healthy alternatives. However, finding such cereals can be tricky because manufacturers do not always advertise the true nutritional value of their products. According to the work of Schwartz et al. (2008), most breakfast cereals marketed to children do not meet the national nutritional standard. Therefore, making one’s own oat porridge is the parent’s best bet. Another healthy alternative is to serve cereal with plain yoghurt, which is rich in protein and minerals.
Most yoghurts marketed to children are unhealthy. They are rich in artificial additives and preservatives that are likely to cause cancer in the later phase of life. In addition, children’s yoghurts are loaded with sugar as a sweetener and lack probiotics that aid digestion and absorption of nutrients.
Greek Yoghurt as a Healthy Alternative
When a parent seeks healthy yoghurts for as child, it is essential to look at the ingredients. Selection should be based on protein contents; calcium and other minerals are required for a child’s development. Alternatively, one can make the healthy choice of switching to unsweetened yoghurts (like plain Greek yoghurt), which are rich in probiotics, calcium, and essential minerals.
These combos of crackers and meats are convenient for both parents and children. Children can get so hooked on a snack that they will keep craving for it, and this should be a warning sign for parents. As convenient as prepackaged lunches are, they are loaded with preservatives that are high in fat, sugar, and sodium—a complete recipe for metabolic syndrome and obesity.
DIY Lunch Packs Alternative
To avoid the risk associated with prepackaged lunches, parents should fill their kids’ lunch packs with whole wheat, low-sodium meat, and Swiss cheese. These lunch items are healthy for the kids and more filling.
While applesauce is usually fed to infants, it has found its way into the diets of many children as an on-the-go snack. Regardless of whether it is being fed to infants or to young children, applesauce is low in fiber, essential nutrients, and nutritional value. In addition, it is loaded with sugar and calories, making it unsuitable for weight management.
Apple Fruit as the Sauce
To avoid unhealthy, store-bought applesauce, parents should try to make their own applesauce. Parents can employ a natural sweetener such as honey to supplement their homemade applesauce, thereby avoiding the unnecessary danger of corn syrup (which is utilized in most of these processed children’s snacks).
Kids love energy bars. These bars are rich in carbs, the necessary fuel for physical and mental activity. However, most energy bars on the market are loaded with sugars and sugar alcohol. They have no nutritive value and may lead to obesity and metabolic syndrome.
Alternative (Ditch Them or Make Your Own)
The healthy alternative is to make your own energy bars. This way, you can monitor the ratio between sweeteners and nutritive ingredients.
Calorie Snack Packs
Parents may feel happy to feed their kids calorie snack packs while thinking the kids are getting necessary calories. However, these snack packs still contain loads of processed materials, sugars, and corn syrup.
Natural Calorie Snack Packs
Go natural and give your kids natural calorie snack packs with almonds and fruits. Natural ingredients will provide kids with much more energy than they would get from Oreos and cookies.
Peanut butter is always a go-to option for different snacks and spreads. However, we should try to avoid putting peanut butter in kid’s snacks. It is loaded with sugar and salt and is therefore unhealthy.
Almond Butter as an Alternative to Peanut Butter
Alternatively, we can make natural peanut butter in our homes or use almond butter instead. Almond butter is rich in healthy fats and low in sugar.