Eating healthy starts at a young age, so it’s important to begin introducing healthy food choices to preschoolers as young as two and three years old. Snacks are an essential part of a preschooler’s day because they provide energy and prevent little ones from becoming overtired or over hungry. Yet as any parent or caregiver knows, it can be difficult to know what to prepare for a preschooler that’s both healthy and flavorful.
In order to make preschoolers healthy snacks, you must have healthy foods on hand. Too often, parents and caregivers stock their fridge and cabinets with convenient snack foods that have little nutrition. It’s hard to choose a piece of fruit or a cold-cut vegetable when cookies and salty crackers are standing near. To help make good choices, make a list of snack ideas before heading to the supermarket. This will encourage you to buy the healthy foods off your shopping list and avoid the snack aisles that are loaded with sweet and salty food options.
To get preschoolers eating healthy snacks, you must also make their snack foods fun. Too much surprise, preschoolers enjoy eating fruits and veggies, but they must be presented in the proper way. For example, pair fresh cut apples with a side of caramel dipping sauce. Caramel is naturally low in fat and contains less sugar than many cookies or sweets. You can do the same by cutting up strawberries or bananas and dipping them in yogurt.
For vegetables, cut up celery sticks and serve them with cream cheese and raisins to make ‘ants on a log‘. Both entertaining and nutritious, preschoolers will get a kick out of their healthy snack. Or choose to offer cold cut veggies with a side of ranch dressing or veggie dip. Kids also enjoy the taste of hummus, spread on cucumbers or pita chips. Or, use cookie cutters to make shapes out of cheese slices or whole wheat bread.
When making preschoolers healthy snacks, be sure to offer a variety of foods, not just the same ones you know they enjoy. Sometimes it takes as many as 10 times for a preschooler to try and like a new food. Encouraging preschoolers to try different foods will also get them eating a wide range of food groups. Also allow preschoolers several healthy snack choices, not just one. There’s no sense in forcing preschoolers to eat something they don’t have a taste for. Instead, save the uneaten snack for another day.
Another way to get preschoolers to eat healthy is to let them be a part of the snack preparation experience. Let them pour granola on their yogurt or add nuts and raisins to their trail mix. Swap out sodas and fruit cocktails with water, low-fat milk and one serving of 100 percent fruit juice each day. Finally, be sure to set a healthy example yourself by eating a wide range of healthy snack foods.