Staying Nourished During the School Year
By Abigail Usen Berner, MS, RD, LDN
Parents and caregivers likely are faced with planning what snacks and lunches to pack or provide after school. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.
- Offer a meal/snack every 2-4 hours. Anything less than two hours is considered “grazing,” which is something to avoid. The goal is to provide a meal/snack that will allow your child to be full for 2-4 hours and work towards meeting their nutritional needs for the day, including protein, fat, fiber, vitamins and minerals. This cannot be accomplished by providing only one balanced meal per day.
- To increase the feeling of fullness, it is important to include protein/dairy, whole grain/complex carbohydrate and a fruit or vegetable for all meals and snacks. If you offer just one of these three categories of food items, your child will most likely be hungry in less than two hours and may resort to grazing. Grazing can lead to future meal and snack times being disrupted in addition to your child consuming fewer nutrients.
- It is important to read labels. Do not get captivated by marketing and buzz words on packaging. Look to purchase products with 3 grams of fiber per serving, 4+ grams of protein per serving and 6 grams of sugar or less per serving. Also pay close attention to recommended portion sizes so your child will be hungry for 2-3 categories of food listed above versus filling up on just one.
- Skewered cantaloupe and cheese cubes or string cheese and whole grain crackers
- Applesauce cup, graham crackers with sun butter or celery and peanut butter
- Greek yogurt with granola and fruit
- Hummus and carrots/celery/pepper/broccoli, popcorn, and sunflower seeds
- A hard-boiled egg, dehydrated snap peas or chickpea puffs, and an apple
- Oatmeal cookies, milk and a clementine, peach or pear
- Homemade trail mix (whole grain cereal, nuts and/or seeds, dried fruit)
- Chicken or egg salad on whole grain bread or roll and green grapes
- Grilled bean or chicken and cheese quesadilla with a side of avocado or guacamole
- Soup, a small whole grain roll, a hardboiled egg and sliced cucumbers
- Cottage cheese and egg, a whole grain roll, snap peas and a gingersnap cookie
- Lunch meat, a whole grain tortilla or pita, baby carrots and cubed watermelon
- Turkey pepperoni, cheese slices, olives, whole grain crackers and an applesauce cup
For more information or to be scheduled for a nutrition evaluation, please contact one of our Pediatric Outpatient sites.