Nutrition Basics: Sugar-Free Snack Ideas for Fussy Kids
One of the great advantages of a child care environment is that it can help to shift stubborn habits that you are struggling to overcome. Fussy eating habits can linger and create a good deal of stress around meal times. Sometimes it feels like no matter what you do, you cannot break though this phase.
A childcare environment can provide support to positive eating habits. During day care, children eat with their peers and teachers. They are supported by the sense of solidarity around healthy eating practices. When they can see the healthy food prepared and eaten all around them, they begin to see it as an appealing option and ultimately want to be part of it.
Hamersley Early Learning School supports healthy eating with positive reaffirmation of the value of nutritious whole foods. We can help your child to enjoy what’s in their lunchbox. If you are stuck for ideas, here are some tips for including healthy options that are attractive and appealing to kids.
Reduce Processed Foods
The key to reducing the impact of sugar in your child’s diet is becoming aware of the different kinds of sugars consumed throughout the day. Reducing processed foods while focusing more on whole foods is a good first step. While processed foods are a quick convenient option especially for busy families, they are ultimately working against you as they cannot provide the sustenance whole foods can.
Processed foods often contain high levels of hidden sugars. Foods that appear to be child friendly, such as flavoured milks or yoghurt, muesli bars and flavoured crackers, can be surprisingly high in sugar. It is important to read the nutritional values table for a quick check of the sugar content. Compare this with the recommended daily sugar intake for children. You might be surprised how much sugar some items contain.
More Whole Foods
Sticking with whole foods ensures your kids are getting natural sugars which behave entirely differently once metabolised in their body. The natural sugars contained in an orange for example, can support blood sugar metabolism, while the processed and refined sugars in packaged foods will create spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels. This can have a profound effect on your child’s mood and can become a precursor to diabetes.
So how can you put these changes in place?
- Try to go for a piece of fruit rather than tinned fruit or fruit juice. This ensures you will get the nutritional benefits of the whole fruit including the skins. Tinned fruit is often high in sugar, while juice is highly concentrated and should be used sparingly, or mixed with water.
- Stick with vegies. Celery sticks, snow peas, cucumber, carrot or capsicum sticks are all great options. Vegetables like this are appealing for kids as they can be eaten raw and have a satisfying crunch to them. High in healthy natural salts, vitamins, fibre and low in sugar, vegie sticks are a great option. Avocado, hummus or plain yoghurt makes a great accompaniment for dipping. Fill celery sticks with natural peanut butter or low fat cream cheese – or throw some sultanas on top and you have ‘ants on logs’.
- Choose crackers that are not covered in processed seasonings. There are a great range of natural crackers available so ensure you seek these out. Wheat can sometimes be an irritant. If this is a problem, try crackers made from rice, buckwheat, corn or quinoa. They are readily available in super-markets, have a unique taste, and are very affordable.
- Hydration – adequate hydration is so important, and supportive to appetite. Offering your child water as often as possible will ensure they remain hydrated and their system remains balanced.
Talk to Hamersley Early Learning School today!
Once you make these changes to your child’s diet you will find they start to seek out different foods for themselves. They will stop craving sugars and salts and find a natural balance. Children are sensitive and adaptable, and can move through a phase much more quickly than adults do! We can support healthy eating practices with positive role modelling.