Kids' snacking can become a problem when it starts interfering with their regular meals. Responsible snacking is a solution to this issue.
Most kids love to snack. But kids' snacking can become a problem for parents when it involves unhealthy foods. This not only interferes with regular mealtimes, but can also be bad for their health if it turns into a habit.
If you are a parent of a little non-stop snacker, this doesn't mean that you need to eliminate snacks altogether. Instead, you need to encourage your child to snack responsibly.
What is responsible snacking?
Snacking doesn't always have to be about chocolate, cake and biscuits -- it can actually be a valuable source of energy and nutrients for your kids through their day.
Medical experts and nutritionists say that when planning out your kids' snacks to make sure that they are "every bit as healthful as the meals you serve."
The easiest way for you to encourage responsible snacking among your little ones, according to experts, is to use the same guidelines for snack planning as for meal planning, selecting healthy options encompassing fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes.
Singaporean mums try to get it right
If you haven't been quite sure about what responsible snacking is until now, you're not alone. According to a recent survey commissioned by Paddle Pop, most Singaporean mums aren’t quite sure either!
The survey was conducted by Nielsen Singapore, in tandem with Paddle Pop’s brand relaunch to champion nutritional responsibility.
The study, involving 257 mothers and 237 children aged between 8 - 12, aimed to gain a better understanding of the snacking habits of kids in Singapore, as well as parents' perception of their kids' snacking habits.
The top five most consumed snacks, according to kid respondents.
Chocolate tops the charts
According to kid respondents, chocolate came out as the number one most consumed snack. It was followed by cookies, bread, and fruits respectively. Ice cream finished fifth, with kids consuming it an average of three to four times a week.
What these results suggest is that parents can do more to control their kids' snacking choices -- and 64% of mothers reported that they do so by suggesting healthier alternatives.
When and where kids are snacking.
When do kids snack most often?
52% of kids’ snack consumption occurs between 3-5 pm. Children also like to eat snacks at home after school, at home during weekends, and at school during break-time, respectively. This shows that the home is a great place to encourage responsible snacking as more than half of kids' snacking occurs during teatime.
As much as it's important to encourage responsible snacking, mixing up the healthy snacks with alternatives occasionally -- for example, ice cream -- keeps snack time fun and exciting.
While 31% of mothers agreed that ice cream is a somewhat less or much less healthy snack than other snack options, 75% agreed that they see ice cream as a fun alternative and kids enjoy them more compared to other snacks.
On the next page -- more on the survey and useful tips to keep your kids snacking responsibly!
Responsible snacking, as understood by Singaporean mothers.
Responsible snacking -- more awareness is needed
The results of the study indicated that parents and kids lack awareness about responsible snacking on the whole. The key statistic that revealed this was when parents were asked which statement best describes “responsible snacking”.
On average, only 33% of mothers agreed strongly that responsible snacking involves:
- replacing certain snacks with healthier options;
- striking the right balance between taste and health;
- consuming snacks in smaller portions; and
- letting kids have fun while eating the snack.
Eating right is only part of the picture. Kids should also be encouraged to spend time playing outdoors.
Snacking right, snacking responsibly
With some careful thought, it's quite easy to put together healthy snacks that offer valuable nutrients and energy in every scrumptious bite. You could also keep healthy drinks, such as water and juice, readily available and accessible to your kids.
For some healthy and yummy alternatives to sugary snacks, try avocado salsa dip, goofy waldorf salad, and other healthy options.
Remember to avoid those snacks high in processed carbohydrates, sugar, and salt. If your child is snacking while studying, keep the healthy options bite-sized and pick those that provide a steady flow of energy instead quick rushes.
The percentage of mothers who decide on a snack's healthiness by looking at nutritional information on packaging.
A great way to gauge the healthiness of a snack is by looking at the nutritional information on the back of the packaging. The Paddle Pop survey showed that only 48% of mothers usually do this.
When checking the nutritional information, pay attention to serving size to keep track of how many servings your kids are getting. This article is a great guide to reading the fine print on those nutritional labels.
This Fun Food Meter (below) is also a great way to match your child’s calorie intake to the recommended activity to burn it off. Keep your kid’s calories-in and calories-out balanced, and you’re good to go!
The Paddle Pop Fun Food Meter
Parents, don't forget to eat and snack healthily yourselves, as by doing so, you set the best "responsible snacking" example to your kids.
Let us know in the comments how you practice responsible snacking at home!