We know some people claim the healthiest way to eat is to eat small and often. There’s plenty of research that shows eating frequently throughout the day reduces your chances of becoming overweight. But there’s also plenty of research that contradicts this, too. And the French, for instance, believe that hunger between meals is a good thing. They believe it produces good eaters, teaches kids self-control, and produces discipline around eating.
Why do we snack?
We snack to get us through to the next meal. Sometimes we just get a snack to ease the ‘hangries’. Snacking can become a habit, and we end up bingeing on quick-fix sugary foods. Or, perhaps, the meals you are eating are designed for fast satisfaction, not for longer ‘fullness’, meaning the last meal didn’t provide all it should.
Drinking plenty of water helps your blood sugars from dropping. And eating healthy whole foods can eliminate your kids’ moods and tantrums. They will not only increase their nutrient intake but also their nutrient absorption. Each macronutrient – carbs, proteins, fats – is important at each meal because each has a role in healing and building our bodies. Protein builds and repairs our bodies, carbs are for energy, and fats for satiety. And all science aside, each tastes great for different reasons.
Are we saying no to snacking?
Well, no. But do you want to be here to survive (to the next meal) or to thrive? You can improve your children’s nutrition by including healthy snacking. Avoiding processed or packaged foods doesn’t have to be an inconvenience to your schedule. Just add a few new twists …
Eat nutrient-dense whole foods
Healthy snacks are the foods for our body as nature intended. If you purchase foods without ingredients like bananas or strawberries, eat them separately or combine them to your taste. It’s not rocket science, just plain old home science. Keep at it. You’ll get better at it, especially as your taste buds yearn for the deliciousness you’re serving up.
So what’s enough?
Let your baby and children be the guide in what they want to eat and how much is enough. When they turn away or are no longer interested, the meal is over. Seriously. Having to eat everything on your plate was probably handed down to us by our grandparents and parents’ generations who were food-deprived during wars and the Depression. It’s better to eat healthy than to eat more.
Snack ideas that can turn to meals
We know that sometimes kids would rather snack than eat meals. But healthy snacks can turn into healthy meals, almost without them realising.
Boiled eggs and pancakes can sound like just breakfast, but having both cooked and ready in the fridge can make for delicious snacks as meals.
Turkish eggs – try rolling your boiled egg in dukkah
Sweet deviled eggs – cut egg in half longways. Scoop out yolk, mix with 1 tsp almond butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Scoop back into both halves and drizzle with a little maple syrup
Banana pancakes – Ingredients: 2 bananas, 1 carrot (or raw beets for pink pancakes!), 4 eggs, 2/3 cup cassava flour (or gf flour), butter for frying. Whiz all ingredients. Cook in frypan and flip when first tiny bubbles appear. (Cook nut flours on lower temperatures to avoid burning)
Sweet pancakes – serve with maple macadamia butter
Fancy pancakes – serve with a spread of yoghurt and a slice of smoked salmon
BLAT pancakes – serve with lettuce, avocado, tomato and crispy bacon
Nourishing our kids to safeguard them from modern-day illness is actually increasing their chance for genuine long-term health – too many conditions begin in childhood and they’re caused or made worse by nutrient deficiencies and/or toxic overload.
Having all the macronutrients in our snacks mean our kids’ bodies are getting what they need, so ‘hangries’ begone. And with that comes better long-term energy. Maybe thinking about snacks for your kids might change how and what you snack on, too.
Words by Vanessa Green, a nutritional therapy practitioner
Fitness Australia registered trainer. See @fit.by.nature on Instagram.