Happy school year! Time for a resolution. Let’s clear out all of the processed unhealthy snacks from our pantries and fill them with nutritious alternatives.
Over the last 25 years, children’s lifestyles and environment have changed tremendously in a world that has become increasingly fast-paced. We know that childhood obesity is on the rise, as many children already suffer from risk factors for heart disease, which include high cholesterol, elevated blood pressure, high triglycerides, raised insulin levels, physical inactivity, and obesity. Additionally, many children now suffer from type-2 diabetes, a disease which is typically environmental, triggered by unhealthy choices. And let’s not forget that technology is producing a generation of sedentary children, where physical activity becomes secondary. Furthermore, in many homes, nutritious eating is not a priority, as families are always "on the go" rushing to various time-sensitive appointments. What can a parent do to help their child get on the path to a healthier lifestyle?
A good first step is to get them in the habit of healthy snacking after school. According to certified nutritionist Cheryl Wheeler Duncan, "Eating healthy snacks can provide children with the nutrients they need to 'feed their brain' and gain natural energy to get through their day." Unfortunately, many children are coming home and selecting the snacks high in saturated fat or processed sugars, which are escalating their risks for heart disease while increasing their waistline. Duncan adds, "Kids should stay away from sugar-laden snacks and drinks and high fatty foods. The sugar creates excess insulin, which can lead to increased fat production and 'energy drop off.' Many foods high in fat tend to slow down the digestion and create that 'sluggish feeling' that tends to prohibit activity."
Healthy after-school snacking does not have to be complicated, time-consuming, or expensive — just creative. Here are 12 quick and easy snacks that your child can enjoy after school, which can be easily prepared the night before ready to eat the next day.