Oh the joy of after school snack time! What’s the first thing your kids say to you when you pick them up after school? If they’re anything like my two it’ll be…
“Muuuuum… I’m hungry!”
Sound familiar? All that learning, running around and playing they do at school really does give them a big appetite! Even if they’ve had a healthy lunch at school, most kids will still need a snack in the afternoon to bridge the gap until dinner.
If you’re heading straight home, you can give them fresh, whole foods for their after school snack. Healthy options might include:
- Vegetable crudites – you can add a dip or tuna mayo
- Fresh fruit – you can add nut butter for scooping
- Nut butter on wholegrain or cricket crackers
- Sourdough breadsticks dipped in full fat cream cheese
- Boiled eggs or leftover meat
- Avocado on toast
- Peanut butter and banana sandwich
Or premade goodies such as:
Some days you may be heading straight for an after-school club or to a play date or the park, and you need an on-the-go solution. Here are some tips on choosing healthy after school snacks for those busy afternoons.
Chocolate Bar > Protein Bar
Chocolate bars are basically a sugar bomb that will give your child a quick rush but leave them hungry again in no time. Their mood may swing from high to low along with their blood sugar levels as their hormones kick in to process the sweet stuff. Plus, they might ‘burn off’ the calories at their swimming lesson or climbing the monkey bars at the park, but they’re getting zero nutrient benefit with it.
On the other hand, a good protein bar will be made with ingredients like dried fruit, nuts, and oats that will still give them an energy boost. However, the balance of healthy fats and protein alongside the natural sugars in the fruit slows down how quickly the food is digested and keeps energy levels steady. Protein bars come in a wide range of flavours (including chocolate) so you’re sure to find one that your child likes.
Crisps > Roasted Peas
Crisps are another snack usually devoid of many nutrients. They also contain high levels of unhealthy fats and salt. Why not offer your child nutrient dense roasted peas instead? Peas are full of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals. Calorie-for-calorie, they punch above their weight compared to other snacks. Again, these come in a range of savoury and sweet flavours – have fun finding your child’s favourite! If you do love a bag of crisps check out some brands that use higher quality potatoes and oil such as Two Farmers, Corkers or Pipers as well as crisps that have veggies in such as Wholesums and Growers Garden.
Pretzels > Seed Snacks
Most pretzels are made from processed white flour, high in salt, and are essentially devoid of nutrients. Whereas seeds are one of the most nutrient dense foods you can eat. They contain healthy fats, fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Your child’s crunch cravings will still be satisfied and their taste buds will be tantalised with a variety of flavours made with herbs and spices instead of salt and additives. Soak in salt water and dehydrate them for a fantastically salty crunch that’s easier to digest! You can even add flavours when dehydrating/roasting a la Boundless.
Processed Fruit Snack > Healthy Fruit Snack
Not all fruit snacks are created equal! Many fruit snacks in the supermarket are marketed as healthy. You can’t always tell the difference just by looking at the packets on the shelves. But flip the box over to examine the ingredients and you may discover hidden nasties lurking. Sugars and sweeteners have no place in a food that is already naturally sweet. However, they are cheaper than whole fruit and some businesses place profit before their customers’ health. Look for fruit snacks that are made from 100% fruit and veg like BEAR Paws, Claws and Yoyos Gregory’s Fruit Twists and Liobites.
Snack Crackers > Oatcakes
Regular snack crackers have just the right combination of sweet and salty and melt-in-your-mouth texture that keep you reaching for more. Look at the ingredients and you’ll see why… white flour, sugar, oil and salt. These ingredients make your child’s brain light up with pleasure, but are a nutritional wasteland.
Let’s look at an alternative option…oatcakes. Oats are a well-balanced grain, nutritionally speaking, and a great source of vitamins, minerals, fibre, protein and antioxidants. Oats are also very filling, meaning your child will feel satisfied with less. If you don’t have time to make porridge in the morning, oatcakes can be a convenient way to include this beneficial food in your child’s diet.
There are also tons of other healthier cracker alternatives out there these days such as Erbology’s delicious raw, gluten free crackers, Cricke’s high protein, sustainable cricket crackers and Amisa’s selection of delicious crispbreads such as the chestnut ones we featured in a past box.
Regular Sweets > One of the many delicious fruity, chewy naturally sweetened snacks available in our fun healthy snack boxes!
Healthy After School Snacks
If processed, high-sugar, low-nutrient foods are consumed on a regular basis, they can cause a whole range of issues. Tooth decay, hormone imbalance, bad skin, inability to concentrate, control impulsivity or manage emotions, lack of motivation, poor quality sleep, digestive issues such as IBS.. the list goes on, not to mention the increased risk of more serious illness such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
Most supermarket bought snack foods are made with highly processed ingredients, along with added sugar, salt and synthetic additives. They might fill your child’s tummy, but they’re not getting any goodness from them.
Making the switch to healthier snacking options can be a gradual process so our kids’ tastebuds return to a normal state and healthy snacks taste sweet and flavourful enough. Eventually they may begin to reject regular treats for being too sweet!
So, look for healthier options for after school snacks. Pick snacks made from nutrient-dense, whole food ingredients such as nuts, seeds, peas, fruit and wholegrains. Of course, snacks should always be eaten in moderation, whether they are ‘healthy’ snacks or otherwise. Just because they are better for you, doesn’t mean it’s ok to eat twice as much! But if we truly are what we eat, why would you want less than the best for your child?