As Snack Attacks Rise, Seek Healthy Options

If you think your kids have more snack attacks than you did as a child, you're right.

Compared to two decades ago, children are taking more snack breaks. Each time children snack, they probably eat the same amount of food and get the same number of calories as they always have -- but the higher number of snack breaks adds up to more calories a day.

More snacking

Youths of all ages from 2 through the teen years snack more often. With 13 to 14 percent of children and adolescents overweight, we can blame eating between meals for part of the trend.

Yet, snacks play an important role in the well-being of a child. First of all, children usually do not consume a sufficient number of calorie in one meal. Second, glucose is necessary for properly brain functioning. The task for parents and others who care for kids: offer healthy snacks that children like.

Those food choices should include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, even though that might mean extra trips to the food store. The extra time and effort are worth it to help your child develop good eating habits for the long term. Also, make sure your own eating habits are nutritious. Parents who follow good eating habits themselves are more likely to have children who eat healthy.

Making choices

You'll have more luck if you let your child make choices. For example, instead of asking your child what fruit she wants, give her two choices to pick from. Then she feels like she has some control over her diet.

Your children probably won't give up a daily soda-and-chips routine without protest. Still, the sooner you start, the easier it will be. It is much harder to change the habits of a teenager than it is to create healthy habits in a toddler.

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