Have you discovered candy-bar wrappers in your son's book bag? Are you tired of afternoon snacks ruining your daughter's dinner? A nutritionist at Albert Einstein Medical Center offers some suggestions for healthier after-school snacking.
Flavia Herzog, M.A., R.D., conducts nutrition workshops for children and their parents in Philadelphia, as well as provides one-on-one nutrition counseling to patients at Albert Einstein Medical Center. She believes that early school-lunch periods play a role in childhood obesity. Kids who eat at 11 a.m. often wind up overeating after school, she says.
Herzog points out that children who eat lunch before noon can use the after-school snack as a mini-meal that helps them meet their nutrient and calorie needs. The size of this meal should depend on how long the child has to wait until dinner. The shorter the time, the smaller the meal.
"Always encourage your child to have something for breakfast – even if it's just a breakfast bar," stresses Herzog, since eating breakfast can discourage overeating later, and it gets the body geared up for the day. "Also, give your child lower-fat options for afternoon snacks."
Herzog suggests that if dinner is in three hours, give your child a choice of:
• half a sandwich;
• an English muffin or pita pizza;
• cereal with low-fat milk;
• crackers with peanut butter or cheese;
• a bagel with peanut butter;
• celery or carrot sticks with low-fat salad dressing as dip.
If dinner is in two hours, give your child these options:
• yogurt with granola;
• pudding with graham crackers;
• string cheese;
• veggies and dip;
• celery with peanut butter or cream cheese;
• a fruit smoothie (fresh fruit, combined with vanilla yogurt or low-fat milk in the blender).
If dinner is in an hour, give your child the following options:
• a fruit cup;
• a soft pretzel or a handful of hard pretzels;
• a granola bar;
• some dry cereal or trail mix.
And remember, insists Herzog, to buy healthy foods yourself: "Children usually follow their parents' example!"
For more information, call 1-800-EINSTEIN or log on to: www.einstein.edu.