When a child gets home from school they can be pretty hungry. Being quite small and having a high need for nutrients means that they do need to eat more often than us adults. The after-school snack is a perfect time to refuel them especially if they have active clubs to attend, it’s going to be a while until their dinner or you are expecting them to sit and have the necessary concentration for homework!
It is very tempting just to give them a biscuit, a piece of fruit and even a little bag of sweets but actually, the after-school snack needs to be a very good one.
The main components of any good snack are:
- Protein – keeps them full for a long time, helps repair and is very important in keeping blood sugar levels stable
- Complex carbohydrate – a nice slow releasing sugar to provide energy
- Fibre – to ensure that those delicate little tummies are working as week as they can be
Which type of snack you provide your child does depend on how much time you have….and of course, if you have a picky eater. Some of the best snacks are ones that you can make at home but there are alternatives that are very simple and can be bought quite easily from the shops
Examples of some homemade healthy afterschool snacks include homemade flapjack (packed with seeds and some dried fruit and low in sugar), apples and cinnamon oat muffins or oaty cookies. These can all be eaten with fruit and perhaps a small glass of milk.
Alternatives that can often be made quickly from ingredients already in the home are yoghurt, fruit and granola, a good quality peanut butter on wholemeal toast with banana, a fruit and yoghurt smoothie with some oats added, vegetable sticks and hummus, apple wedges dunked in peanut butter or simply some fruit and a few nuts or seeds. My children love to eat dry granola with nuts and dates added and a piece of fruit!
If out and about and needing to grab something very quickly it is much more of a challenge. The cereal bars that are marketed as healthy often have a lot of sugar in them and you are normally faced only with a display of crisps and chocolate. At this point, you need to think broader than this display – grabbing some fruit works to start with and then look to add a pack of ready cooked chicken, some oatcakes, a pot of yoghurt, a sandwich or even some cheese portions. All of these have protein which is much more likely to hit the spot and keep their energy stable and their nutrient intake more optimised.
There is much more information, recipes and ideas on snacking in the online child nutrition course that will be available soon. It will also include access to a private facebook group where you’ll meet likeminded people and be able to share ideas and concerns.