How to make nutritionally balanced snacks for children| Vendula Kosíková
Developing children, especially if they play sports, often have higher energy consumption than many adults. They therefore need nutritious snacks in addition to breakfast, lunch and dinner. We asked nutritional therapist Andrea Jakešová how to prepare them.
What Nutrients Do Kids Need?
Easy-to-use carbohydrates in cereals and cereal products give children energy.
Proteins, which like fats are essential for the healthy growth and development of children, are the building blocks not only for muscles and tissues, but also for their immune system. In addition, they are a carrier of satiety, so they help children stay cool and snack-free until the next meal.
Fats are part of the structure of many vitamins, hormones and other important substances necessary for proper body functions. They are also a source of long-term energy and make us feel full.
Every snack should also include vegetables and fruit – these in turn are a source of trace elements and minerals, vitamins, fibre and water.
“Just like the main meals, snacks should contain all three essential macronutrients – complex carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
There is no need to come up with anything special – even a slice of bread topped with cheese or ham and accompanied by a piece of vegetable or fruit is perfectly fine from this point of view.
It is important that children get used to regularity and staple foods that provide the body with more nutrients than industrially processed foods such as various biscuits and convenience foods. These, on the contrary, tend to be a rich source of sugar, salt, and also bad eating habits.
More exercise – more snacks
Children should ideally have two snacks – one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Children who play sports may need an extra snack to replenish energy and nutrients before and often also after training.
If children play sports or are very physically active, give them an extra snack or two in addition to their morning and afternoon snack to give them something to draw energy from. You can tell if your child is eating enough by the fact that he or she does not complain of hunger and does not reach for sweets during the day to replenish energy.”
Homemade snacks are the best
„Snacks prepared at home are ideal, because you can be sure they do not contain excessive amounts of sugar, salt or inappropriate ratios of nutrients.
Nutritional therapis Andrea Jakešová
Together with her colleague, she founded the Ne hladu (No Hunger) blog to correct the nutrition information circulating on the Internet. Instead of miracle diets, she offers sustainable changes that lead not only to an ideal weight but also to a happier life without unnecessary restrictions.
Legume spreads or spreads prepared from cottage cheese and roasted vegetables, beetroot, fish, eggs, etc. are tasty. They do not take much work and together with sourdough bread, for example, they represent an ideally balanced and tasty diet.
Healthy dips from cream cheese and herbs are also ready in a jiffy. Children like to dip carrot, celery, cucumber, and other sticks in them.
Cottage cheese flavoured with fresh fruit, vanilla, cinnamon, honey or white yoghurt with oatmeal and fruit is also popular.
You can’t go wrong with home-baked cottage cheese and poppy seed cake, kefir banana bread and other cakes based on milk proteins (cottage cheese, yoghurt, cream cheese, kefir, etc.) in addition to flour.”
What should children drink?
“An adequate amount of fluid intake is an inherent part of snacks. Plain water is the most suitable, and you can occasionally flavour it with the juice of one orange, with mint, etc. Unsweetened fruit or herbal tea is also suitable.
Sweet 100% juices or drinks like Coca-Cola or lemonade, which contain a lot of sugar, should definitely not be part of your daily diet. Energy drinks are definitely not suitable either.”
What to avoid?
Too much whole grain cereals and fibre
“Eating only whole-grain cereals and cereal products is suitable for adults, who have sedentary jobs, but not for children, who use a lot of energy for their activities and growth.
Young children have a reduced stomach capacity, so they do not need high-fibre products for regular consumption, as these can reduce the energy value of food and reduce the absorption of minerals that children need for healthy growth.”
“As I have already mentioned, fats are an essential part of a child’s diet. Fat-free products are not only lower in energy but also lower in nutrients and some vitamins. For children, semi-skimmed dairy products are best.”
Excess salt and processed cheese
The daily recommended salt intake for children is between 3-5 grams per day.
“Czech bakery products have higher salt content than is customary in the world, so it is better not to buy bread rolls with extra salt on top for kids.
Some hams, the feta cheese also contain higher amounts of salt. Salt in excessive amounts increases blood pressure, harms the heart and burdens the kidneys.
Melting salts in processed cheese reduce the absorption of calcium, which is important for bone growth. Therefore, include these products only occasionally or skip them altogether.”
Sweetened dairy products
“Sweetened dairy products contain a surprisingly large amount of sugar – 100 g of Bobik (cottage cheese desert), for example, contain about 12 g of added sugar, which is approximately 3 sugar cubes.
Therefore, serve these products to children only rarely, not as a snack, but occasionally as a dessert. You can make a similar snack for your children at home with cottage cheese, a little sugar and fresh fruit.”
Cereals and biscuits
“The same applies to cereals and biscuits, which should not be given to children regularly every day, but only to diversify their diet. Sweet breakfast cereals such as Cini Minis contain up to 33 g of sugar per 100 g of product.”
Fruit juices and sweetened drinks
“Even fruit juices, juices or sweetened drinks such as Fanta, Coca-Cola, etc. should not be part of the daily diet as should appear only exceptionally. They contain large amounts of simple carbohydrates, and thus spike blood sugar levels, causing hunger and sweet cravings. In addition, they can develop unhealthy sweet drink habits in children.
Good advice is not to buy such things for children to take home, but to indulge them on trips, during sports or occasions such as birthday parties, etc.”
Good habits from childhood onwards
“Do not strictly forbid anything for your children, but guide them patiently to regularity and variety in their meals. Teach them that the basis of the diet is food made from fresh and basic ingredients that are tasty on their own.”