School days are here again, and you need to fuel your brain with important lessons and fun information. But what will you do to satisfy your appetite when you get home?
If it’s been hours since lunch but dinner isn’t ready yet, it’s important to grab a snack. Snacks will boost your energy and help you stay focused for crucial things like homework later.
But after school, when you’re studying, playing with friends or relaxing, it’s easy to go for something quick and tasty, such as potato chips or cookies. These foods may taste great, but they aren’t always good for your body. Ask your parents to stock up on good-to-eat and easy-to-prepare foods for these times. That way, when you need a snack, you’ll have plenty of yummy, healthy things to choose from.
Eating good food is the best way to make sure your body gets all the fuel it needs to grow and stay strong, such as calcium, fiber and protein. These good components can be found in fresh fruits and vegetables.
[Steps for Living: Healthy Eating and Healthy Body Weight]
Here are a few tips for what to grab when your next snack attack strikes:
- Stay away from fried snacks—no potato chips, french fries, or fast food. Instead, reach for baked snacks, such as pretzels, air-popped popcorn or rice cakes.
- Drink more water and milk. Juice and sodas may taste good, but they also have a lot of sugar. Water and milk will not only satisfy your thirst, but keep you healthy!
- Stock up on fresh foods from the grocery store or a farmer’s market. Slices of fruit, vegetables, low-fat cheese, and lean meat and fish are all good for you.
There are many healthy snacks you can choose, and some need to be fixed ahead of time. Ask an adult to help you get parts of some of these snacks ready so you can easily make them when you’re hungry:
- Slice up fruit and assemble it into a “kabob” that you can have later with yogurt dip.
- Cut up fresh vegetables like carrots or celery into sticks so you can dip them in hummus or low-fat salad dressing.
- Spread peanut butter or jelly on a rice cake.
- Mix it up with a homemade trail mix of dried fruit, cereal, nuts, pretzel minis and yogurt chips.
- Dip pretzel nuggets into honey mustard.
- Layer low-fat granola or cereal and fruit together with yogurt or frozen yogurt for a parfait.
- Make sugar-free gelatin cutouts.
Eating these healthy snacks is another way to take care of yourself. They give you more energy to do fun things such as riding your bike or playing with friends. Save cookies, chips or pizza for special treats.
Change your snacks, too, and try different food groups—a glass of milk and whole-grain crackers, or spread peanut butter and raisins on celery to make ants on a log. By making your snacks interesting, it will be easier to pick healthy foods all the time.
Want to learn more about good-for-you snacks? Ask your teachers or parents for help in making these and other healthy food choices.