A small snack after school, another snack in the park, one at the grandparents and a little something after dinner, right? The notion of snacking and its usefulness is not yet well understood among parents, nor if children really do need it. Let's find out together what snacks are and how they can be used for the harmonious development of children.
First of all, a snack should be classified as a side meal, with a smaller volume than a main meal and a significantly lower caloric intake. A snack should not represent more than 10% of the total caloric intake of the child during a day. Thus, if your child needs 2000 calories a day, a snack should not exceed 200 calories. This is very important, because children's snacks often end up being foods with a fairly high caloric content, represented mainly by types of foods which are rich in sugars, sodas and juices or salty snacks. We must keep in mind that, for example, a 100g bag of corn puff snack has 435 calories which exceeds the recommended level, and that next time we should give the little one only half a bag!
Snacks play an important role in our diet, both for adults and especially for children. Their stomachs go empty every 3 hours, depending on how rich the previous meal was. Thus, if the child has breakfast at 8 o'clock, by 11 o'clock he will start to feel hungry again, and so a snack would be welcomed between breakfast and lunch, and one between lunch and dinner. Snacks should have the role of keeping the blood sugar level constant throughout the day so that feelings like intense hunger do not occur, because if this happens, children will not take into account if a snack is healthy or not, but generally eat what is on hand.
A well- organized day in terms of meals will be much better for their development than when there is no routine in place, and everything is a mess. Too many snacks during the day will lead to weight gain because of the much higher caloric intake.
Additionally, not having a schedule will disrupt the hunger sensation, when normally it would be mealtime. What should a healthy snack be, or what should it consist of?
The most important thing is that the snack should provide healthy nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and protein which, depending on the needs of the child, will prolong the feeling of satiety.
It's also important to offer a variety of flavors, tastes, and textures (including vegetables) at snack time. This will increase your child's familiarity with a wide range of foods and will encourage healthy eating habits as he or she grows.