February has been designated National Snack Month by the Snack Food Association of America, and the National Potato Promotion Board.
As Americans, the one thing that we can all agree on is our love of snacks. Snack sales in the United States top $60 Billion annually. The snack foods that we tend to reach for can be loaded with calories, sugar, sodium and fat. However, snack foods do not have to be unhealthy to satisfy your cravings. When you need a little boost of energy during the day, a healthy snack can do the trick.
According to University of Florida’s Karla Shelnutt, Associate Professor and Extension Nutrition Specialist, and Julie Martinez, healthy snacking is an important part of a child’s daily intake. The key is to learn how to make healthy snack choices and to avoid consuming too many snacks high in sugar and salt, and low in healthy nutrients (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_snacks ).
The key to healthy snacking is to plan ahead. Keep a variety of tasty, healthy snacks on hand to help to tide your family over in between meals. When shopping for your family, remember to select healthier items such as fresh fruits and vegetables and make sure to read food labels when selecting pre-packaged snacks.
Additional healthy snacking ideas:
- Cut back on the high-calorie snacks. Choose fruits, vegetables and whole grains, like popcorn.
- Snack when you are hungry, not when your are bored or stressed. Know the difference!
- Eat sensible portion sizes; use single serve containers for snacks.
- Quench your thirst with water, instead of high sugar drinks.
Healthy snack suggestions:
- Ants on a log — Peanut butter filled celery sticks, topped with raisins.
- Healthy ice pops — Pour 100% juice into ice cube trays and freeze.
- Slices of apple with peanut butter
- Smoothies with fat-free milk and frozen strawberries
- Yogurt and fresh fruit
- Crackers and cheese sticks
For more information on the importance of healthy snacking, contact your Family and Consumer Science Agent at your local UF/IFAS Extension Office.
Raising Healthy Children: The Role of Snacking. Julie M. Martinez and Karla P. Shelnutt. UF/IFAS EDIS, FCS8902/FY1154. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_snacks