Parenting is tough; there’s no other way to describe it. Although it’s something to be cherished and revered, let’s face it, kids are a constant challenge. From keeping up with their homework and after-school activities to making sure their clothes fit, parents are constantly on the go and looking for time they don’t have. So where in the day is there time to create healthy meals and snack options? Here are five ways to keep kids nourished and satisfied while maintaining healthy habits.
1. Keep Healthy Snacks in the House
Kids are always hungry. The first thing they do when they come home from school is ask “What’s for dinner?” as they scan the cupboards and pantry for something to snack on. Most children have an early lunch at school; so by the time they get home, they are ready to fuel up again. At home, you can control what they eat. Choosing healthy options and having them on hand for easy grabbing makes life easier for everyone. SuperHealthyKids.com is a great resource for low-sugar snack options, like popcorn, celery, cheese, and pistachios.
2. No More Fruit Juice
Fruit juice, although perceived as a healthy option, can be as unhealthy as sugary drinks. On average, one cup of apple juice contains about 28 grams of sugar. With 4 grams of sugar equaling 1 teaspoon, that means there are 7 teaspoons of sugar in that one cup. Grape juice is up to 40 grams of sugar per cup. Cutting juice altogether is a quick and easy way to reduce a large amount of unnecessary sugar going into your children’s system. This is a time to get creative with flavored waters and iced teas. There are many fruit blends in teas these days, and they can be very refreshing. Coconut water is another great option, and it adds potassium to the diet. And let’s not forget about drinking plain old water.
3. Read Labels
Reading labels on the food we buy is essential in monitoring what goes into our children’s mouths. Nutrition labels list sugar in grams, but they don’t distinguish between processed sugars and natural sugars. As mentioned above, 4 grams of sugar is equal to 1 teaspoon. That means an apple-cinnamon cereal bar contains 3 teaspoons of sugar. Arming yourself with this kind of information when reading labels can help to determine how much sugar is in that bar.
4. Make Jell-O
Jell-O is fun, colorful, inexpensive, and has sugar-free options. It’s really fun to make as well, and the kids can get involved. There are 20 sugar-free gelatin and instant pudding flavors to choose from. Aside from being fun and low in sugar, gelatin is very good for overall health, including improving gut health and digestion.
5. Keep Fresh Fruit Available
Kids, and adults, generally want something sweet during the day. With fruit readily available year-round in the United States, it’s easy to keep fresh fruit in the house on a regular basis. Making fruit more fun is an option as well. Try freezing grapes or bananas in the summertime for a fun and healthy alternative to popsicles.
Eating healthy is a constant challenge. Most of the quick and easy processed snack choices are unhealthy and full of sugar. By taking a little extra time to plan meals and snacks, parents can ensure kids have healthy and satisfying snacks in the house.