Snacks can be an important part of our diet, especially if we choose them wisely! Snacks provide us with about 11% of our calories each day. The rest of our daily calories come from our regular meals—breakfast provides 19%, lunch provides almost 30%, and dinner makes up about 40% of our calories. Choosing snacks carefully can help us ensure adequate nutrition.
Snacks chosen from the fruit and dairy groups provide good sources of Vitamin C, riboflavin, calcium, and magnesium. Lesser amounts of niacin, zinc, Vitamin A, protein, and iron are contributed by a variety of snack foods from the grain, vegetable, and meat groups. Eating different kinds of snacks can help ensure an adequate supply of nutrients to round out your diet.
Most children need to snack. It may be difficult for them to consume from meals alone, all of the daily calories, and vitamins, and minerals their growing bodies need. Choose small snacks that can be eaten at established times—about 1 ½ hours before their meals.
Active teenagers, especially growing boys, have increased calorie and nutrient needs. Busy lifestyles, sports, and a tendency to skip meals may even increase the nee to snack to ensure meeting their nutritional requirements. Snacking also offers a feeling of independence as teenagers may choose from a wide variety of foods at different times of the day.
Below are some tips for choosing some healthy and delicious foods for snacking or eating out.
Choose more often:
- Pizza-plain or with vegetables
- Regular-sized grilled hamburger, grilled chicken, or plain roast beef sandwich
- Mexican food made with soft tortillas (soft tacos, burritos, fajitas); enjoy them with salsa
- 1% or skim milk
- Unsweetened fruit juices
- Fresh fruits, dried fruits, nuts, or seeds
- Low-fat frozen yogurt, ice milk, or frozen fruit pops
- Unbuttered popcorn, air-popped
- Lower-fat and skim milk cheese, part-skim mozzarella and string cheese, and 1 % cottage cheese
- Pretzels, soda crackers, whole-grain crackers, and breadsticks
- Fruit-filled cookies, gingersnaps, graham crackers, angel food cake with fruit, vanilla wafers
Choose less often:
- Pizza with sausage or the “works”
- Double-sized hamburger or cheeseburger, fried chicken or fish fillets; sauces made with mayonnaise
- Crisp-fried tortilla chips; limit sour cream, grated cheese, or guacamole
- Whole milk or shakes
- Soft drinks
- Ice Cream
- Popcorn with added fat
- Regular Cheese
- Potato chips or corn chips
- Rich desserts