Here’s the situation: It’s 2 hours before dinner and you’re starving. Your mom says, “No snacks. I don’t want you to ruin your dinner!” The truth is a snack is okay if it’s a healthy food or drink and you’re still hungry when it comes time to eat dinner. Good times to grab a snack are mid-morning and mid-afternoon.
Because your stomach is smaller than an adult’s stomach and because you use up a lot of energy at school and playing sports, you have to eat more often to keep from getting tired and grouchy. You know that feeling, right? But, you want to make sure you’re snacking because you’re hungry and in need of good food to help you grow healthy and strong. Don’t eat because you’re bored, or watching a movie, or to reward yourself for doing something like finishing a homework project.
Let’s say it’s 10 o’clock in the morning, you just finished gym class, and you’re getting hungry. What should you eat? Some good choices would be an apple, orange, yogurt, popcorn without butter, peanut butter crackers, cheese, or a piece of whole-grain bread. Eat something you like, but try your best to avoid treats like candy bars, chips, and sodas that fill you up fast and will make you feel tired even faster. Remember, “snack” doesn’t mean junk food!
Need more ideas? Next time you’re hankering for something to eat in the middle of the afternoon, choose a fruit smoothie instead of a milk shake, frozen yogurt instead of ice cream, baked pretzels instead of cookies, water or milk instead of a soda, fig bars instead of a candy bar, a piece of fruit instead of hard candy, or a whole-grain bagel instead of a cinnamon bun. You get the idea. Make it a habit to snack on healthy foods. You won’t be sorry. We promise!